Join renowned opera singer Kristin Lewis, former resident of Little Rock and alumna of the University of Central Arkansas, for an opera gala on Sunday, Nov. 22, at Wildwood Park for the Arts to benefit her scholarship fund for emerging Arkansas vocalists.
Kristin will perform arias from works by Verdi, a suite from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and the second act of Puccini’s La Boheme. Internationally renowned American bass-baritone Kevin Short will appear as a guest artist, along with acclaimed Manhattan-born collaborative pianist Louis Menendez. Last year’s scholarship grand prize winner, soprano Anna Berry, will also perform, as well as a quartet of emerging professional singers from Praeclara, a new performing arts organization based in Little Rock.
Kristin is a lyrico-spinto soprano lauded for her interpretations of Verdi heroines. Formerly a section leader in the choir at Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock, she began her vocal studies at the University of Central Arkansas under the guidance of Dr. Martha Antolik. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, she continued with her Master of Music studies at the University of Tennessee. She now resides in Vienna, Austria, where she regularly appears on some of the world’s greatest opera stages in performances of Aida, Il Trovatore, I due Foscari, Turandot, Don Giovanni and more.
Kristin shared her insight and inspiration in an exclusive interview with Inviting Arkansas.
Inviting Arkansas: What is the Kristin Lewis Foundation?
Kristin Lewis: The Kristin Lewis Foundation is an Arkansas-based, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to shine a spotlight on talented musicians. Our purpose is to encourage and aid in the development of singers who aspire to careers in classical performance. We strive to foster an inspiring environment that engages musicians at all levels of performance.
IA: What are some of the challenges that young singers face in establishing their careers? How does the Kristin Lewis Foundation Vocal Scholarship help with those challenges?
KL: One of the greatest challenges that many young singers face is securing the financial means for the vocal development and training associated with auditions and competitions. Another challenge is procuring professional experiences. The Kristin Lewis Foundation seeks to fill these gaps by providing singers with financial support and exposure to both American and European professional resources.
IA: What inspired you to become an opera singer?
KL: I grew up listening to many genres of music. I always loved singing, but I never seriously imagined a career in performance until I began taking voice lessons during my undergraduate studies at the University of Central Arkansas. I was very fortunate to have been a student of Dr. Martha Antolik, who gave me a solid foundation in vocal technique. Together we discovered that my voice was best suited for classical music. I embraced this discovery, not fully knowing at the time that I was embarking on a journey that would require absolute dedication and discipline. Throughout my studies in undergraduate and graduate school, I continued to be inspired by the many wonderful singers who have already created enduring legacies. Singers such as Leontyne Price, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Grace Bumbry and Mirella Freni taught me by example that a career in opera performance was possible.
IA: We understand you recently debuted at Carnegie Hall. What was that experience like?
KL: My debut at Carnegie Hall was a dream fulfilled. To stand and sing on that stage with great artists such as the magnificent conductor, Maestro Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic was truly surreal. The experience was magical.
IA: What are you most looking forward to at your upcoming opera gala at Wildwood Park this Sunday?
KL: What is most exciting about the opera gala is the collaborative effort between the Kristin Lewis Foundation, Wildwood and Praeclara, the performing arts organization supported by Second Presbyterian Church. Bevan Keating, the artistic director of Praeclara, has brought together many exciting artists to participate in the concert who have dedicated their talents toward making this event what I anticipate being a wonderful success. I’m very honored to be joined onstage by Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone, Kevin Short. In addition, Anna Berry, a 2015 Kristin Lewis Foundation Vocal Scholarship Award recipient, will be featured in the role of Musetta in our presentation of the second act of Puccini’s La Bohème.
Ticket are available at wildwoodpark.org or by calling 501.821.7275.