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Perry Smith (Tenor)

Born: Greenville, North Carolina, USA

The American tenor and music pedagogue, Perry Smith, is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University. He holds has a DMA in performance from the University of Kentucky as well as a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was privileged to study with Ralph Appleman, Jean Dies, and Elizabeth Mannion. While at Indiana University, Smith worked with the Bach expert, Dr. Julius Herford, who was also a close colleague of Robert Shaw. He was coached by Dr. Herford and sang the Evangelist role in J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (BWV 245) numerous times. At Oberlin Conservatory he was in the much-acclaimed Oberlin College/Conservatory Choir under the direction of Robert Fountain. Also while at Oberlin, he studied with Richard Miller, the renowned vocal pedagogue and author of numerous books and articles on voice teaching. In 1983, Smith attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. After an audition tour of Germany, he accepted a position as the leading tenor at the Pforzheim Stadttheater, West Germany.. He was also a regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition. In 1966, he was trained at Fort Sam Houston, Texas for the Olymopic event, Pentathalon.

Perry Smith has extensive performance experience in opera, oratorio and Broadway musicals and as a recitalist both in the USA and in Europe. In 1987 he sang in the Lincoln Center, New York City, in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. He has also sung many other oratorio roles, including that of the Evangelist in J.S. Bach's St. John's Passion (BWV 245) and St. Matthew's Passion (BWV 244), Judas in Judas Maccabbeus, the tenor role in Haydn's The Creation and George Frideric Handel's Acis and Galentea.

In December 1991 Perry Smith sang the complete Messiah with the Louisville Bach Society and the tenor solos in the Hodie by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Lexington, Kentucky. In April 1991 he sang The Creation with the Kingsport Tennessee Symphony and Chorus and in May he sang the tenor solos in Elijah with the Charleston (West Virginia) Symphony and Chorus. He is a popular soloist now in East Carolina, having sung concerts as a soloist in the Lord Nelson Mass by Haydn, Puccini's Messa di Gloria, and numerous performances of the Messiah by G.F. Handel. He also sings with the East Carolina Vocal Quartet, singing Rossini's Stabat Mater and Mozart's Requiem. He was the featured soloist in the East Carolina Sacred Music Festival taking place in late January 1997. In 2003 he sang the tenor solos in a complete performance of G.F. Handel’s Messiah at East Carolina University.

Perry Smith has also sung many leading operatic roles including Alfredo in La Traviata, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Count Almaviva in Barber of Seville, Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutti, Hoffmann in Tales of Hoffmann, and the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier. In January 1992, he sang Don José in the Opera of Central Kentucky's production of Carmen. In June 1992 he performed Ferrando in the Opera of Central Kentucky's production of Cosi fan Tutti. In the spring of 1996 he sang the role of Tamino in East Carolina University's production of The Magic Flute. He sang Don José (Carmen) in the fall of 1996 in Winston-Salem with the East Carolina Opera Theater and Orchestra. During the 1996 Christmas season he sang the tenor solos of G.F. Handel's Messiah in nine concerts, and Puccini's Messa di Gloria at Campbell College with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. In 1997 he sang performances of the Messiah, J.S. Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243), and Clausson's A New Creation. In 1998, Smith sang the tenor solos in Duke University's three presentations of the full length Messiah and also for the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra performances of the Messiah in New Bern, NC. In 2000, Dr. Smith sang Carmina Burana, the Mozart Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, and sang a number of performances of G.F. Handel's Messiah. In 2001 he sang soloist in three masses with the Duke University chorale and presented seven recitals throughout the region.

Perry Smith’s performance activity in the Broadway musical genre includes an eight-week run of L’il Abner (Abner) at Dinner Theatre in Evansville, Indiana (1990); Showboat (the role of Ravinal), produced by the Indianapolis Summer Theater, Chorus Leader, in a tour of three major USA cities: Indianapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis (Summer of 1990).

Perry Smith has also conducted college and church choir choruses for 13 years. For 9 years (1983-1992), at the Eastern Kentucky School of Music, he was Choral Director of the college Chorale with more than one hundred members and applied the vocal/choral techniques that he learned in his study with the late Frauke Haasemann of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. For three years (1997-2000), he was Music Minister/ Choral Director at the First Baptist Church in New Bern, North Carolina. For 5 years (2044-2009), he was Music Minister/Choral Director at Hooker Memorial Christian Church in Greenville, North Carolina..

Perry Smith has taught and coached singers for more than 30 years in both high school and university settings. He was Teaching Assistant at Indiana Universityin Bloomington, Indiana (1973-1975); tauhjt at Private Voice Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. (1975-1983); was Assistant Professor of Voice at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky (1983-1992). Since 1993 he is Associate Professor of Voice and is head of the Masters of Vocal Pedagogy Degree at the East Carolina University School of Music in Greenville, North Carolina, teaching applied voice and both undergraduate and the master of music degree courses in vocal performance and pedagogy. He is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. His publications incluyde the article “Blend or Balance: Two Approaches to Choral Singing” in the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal (December, 2001). He continues to perform throughout the Carolinas and the Eastern Seaboard region.

Source: East Carolina University Website (October 2008); Vimeo Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Jan Harrington


BWV 131 [1st], BWV 245 [1st]

Links to other Sites

East Carolina University: The ECU Vocal Pedagogy Workshop: Presenter Biographies

Perry Smith - Tenor on Vimeo

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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