As a professional opera performer, Pittsburg State music instructor Patrick Howle believes there are few art forms that involve as many elements as opera. Between the vocal and instrumental music, sets, costumes, lights, and acting, opera offers multidimensional performances that are a feast for the eyes and ears.
His goals? To make sure audiences can get a taste of these performances right here in Southeast Kansas - and that vocal performance students get some priceless early experience.
"Opera is an art form that truly combines a little bit of everything," said Howle, director of this fall's "The Magic Flute," a Mozart opera performed last November with the Southeast Kansas Symphony. "It's crucial for my students who will be pursuing careers as stage performers to get this experience. For those of us who love it, we have to put it out there for people."
Howle, who came to PSU six years ago after studying and working in Rochester, N.Y. and Hartford, Conn., certainly has the experience to do so. In addition to teaching opera courses at PSU, the past year has found him he performing as Eisenstein in Johann Strauss's "Die Fledermaus" with Greenville Light Opera Works in Greenville, S.C., and in "Sunset Boulevard" with the Mobile Opera in Alabama. For years, he has also spent his summers performing with the Ohio Light Opera.
Equally busy has been the Southeast Kansas Symphony, directed by PSU music professor Dr. Selim Giray. The 90-member group performed several times last fall and has shows on schedule for this spring. "Our work in the case of this opera was totally collaborative," Howle said. "One needs the other."
With performances like this taking months of work and coordination, Howle looks forward to the day that large-scale performances can once again take place on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
"It's great for the community to see these things live without having to travel too far, and it will be even better when we can put on these shows in a fine and performing arts center right here," he said. "It's something I'm passionate about. If I can bring it to others, that's all that matters."