World Renowned Bass SAMUEL RAMEY is Slated to Take the Wichita Grand Opera to its Next Phase

Monday, October 3 2016 9:00 AM
  News Release
For Immediate Release
October 1, 2016
 Parvan Bakardiev, General Director                  Margaret Ann Pent, Artistic Director 
Century II Performing Arts Center, 225 W. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202
Contact: Tony Applegate, (316) 683-3444,

(WICHITA, October 1, 2016) – Wichita Grand Opera’s President & CEO, Parvan Bakardiev and Board of Directors announced today that world renowned bass-baritone SAMUEL RAMEY has been named to a newly-created position to serve as WGO Ambassador and Artistic Advisor, effective as of November 1, 2016, for a two-year period.

In addition, the Wichita Grand Opera is establishing “THE SAMUEL RAMEY PROGRAM” which includes three high-priority initiatives to take the WGO to its next phase. After sixteen years since its founding by Margaret Ann Pent, it is her goal and objective to increase the impact and influence of the WGO for the City of Wichita, the region, and nationally.

Mr. Ramey’s appointment is being underwritten by Dr. Dennis and Ann Ross. Dr. Ross is Chairman Emeritus and a five-time past-Chairman of Wichita Grand Opera’s Board of Directors. Mr. Ramey’s full official title will be the Dr. Dennis and Ann Ross WGO Ambassador and Artistic Advisor.
1.   Opera Across Kansas
Wichita Grand Opera has set its sights on bringing the art of Opera and our critically-acclaimed productions to the entire State of Kansas. As an expansion of WGO’s successful performance series in Wichita, McPherson, Salina, and Overland Park, Mr. Ramey and the WGO Management and Board of Directors will build a network across the State among elected officials, business leaders, academic institutions, foundations, and the Kansas arts community. To further deepen WGO’s relationship to communities across the state, the WGO will form statewide advisory councils with a long-term goal to establish additional performance residencies in more communities.
2.   Opera Academy of the Midwest
WGO is committed to further developing the Opera Academy of the Midwest, which is a vital stepping-stone in the careers of up-and-coming Kansas artists. Just as medical students go through a residency program before becoming fully-licensed doctors, opera singers need an intermediate step to bridge the “experience gap” between their academic studies and the beginning of their professional career. Mr. Ramey will work to grow relationships with universities statewide to allow the OAM to become a springboard for the careers of aspiring young Kansas and Kansas-based opera singers.
3.   Wichita Opera Business Alliance
The presence of an Opera company is a treasured asset for any community. Corporate recruiters use the presence of Opera – one of the most difficult and exciting art forms to produce and experience – as an enticing lure to attract the best talent to their ranks. The WGO believes that when the business community is strong, the entire City and State will benefit. To that end, Mr. Ramey will reach out to Wichita’s business leaders to win their support for the WGO and create a Wichita Opera Business Alliance to make the most of combined efforts and opportunities for the City of Wichita, our business sector, and the WGO.
Adding this new dimension to his multi-faceted career, Samuel Ramey said, “Wichita Grand Opera is a magnificent artistic asset to the City of Wichita and the State of Kansas. I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping the WGO move forward into its next phase. Parvan Bakardiev and Margaret Ann Pent deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their artistic vision and dedicated work in creating this company from the ground up. The WGO Board of Directors has my sincere thanks for this opportunity, and my profound admiration for WGO’s numerous achievements in its first 16 years.”

WGO President and CEO Parvan Bakardiev commented, “Margaret Ann Pent and I have endeavored to make the Wichita Grand Opera one of the finest companies in the region. We are poised to move it now into its next phase. We are incredibly excited to add Samuel Ramey to the team, both as an ambassador to the community and for his comprehensive artistic knowledge and experience. Sam is an unparalleled artist and a true gentleman, and he, our Board, and our executive staff are ready to get to work as we write a new chapter in the legacy of the WGO.”

Dr. Dennis Ross, Chairman Emeritus, continued, “Samuel Ramey is an enormous part of the Wichita arts community. Not only is he one of the greatest vocal artists ever produced by our great State of Kansas, he is also loved, respected, and admired all over the world. His presence on WGO’s senior staff is incredibly exciting, not just for the future of the WGO, but for the future of the arts in the City of Wichita. Ann and I are both thrilled that we could play a part in making this announcement possible.”

Margaret Ann Pent, WGO Founder and Artistic Director, added, “Sam’s depth of knowledge and passion for opera are an invaluable asset, and even though he’s a world-renowned star he has a genuine, instant rapport with fellow artists, students, and community members alike. He is eager to help build the future of the WGO, and his enthusiasm is an inspirational addition to the WGO family.”
Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. For more than three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire, with the Los Angeles Times going so far as to declare him “a national treasure.”

The unique expressiveness of the bass voice has inspired many composers to assign the portrayal of devils and villains to basses, and it is in this repertoire that Mr. Ramey has established a reputation unequaled in the musical world. Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust has become his most-performed role with over 200 performances in more than twenty productions. In 1992 Mr. Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.”

The combination of Samuel Ramey’s commanding vocalism, exceptional musicianship, elegant stage presence, and uncommon theatrical abilities has taken him to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro Colon, and the operas of Munich, Hamburg, Geneva, Florence, Zürich and Amsterdam, among others. In concert, he has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, La Scala Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and the symphonies of Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and San Francisco.

Throughout his career, Mr. Ramey has worked with every major conductor including Claudio Abbado, the late Leonard Bernstein, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Julius Rudel, the late Sir Georg Solti, and the late Herbert von Karajan.

A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.
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