August 9 - Black Lives Matter Virtual Concert
A frequent performer in the Pacific Northwest, Soprano Ibidunni Ojikutu is known for having a strong foundation in traditional and contemporary repertoire and has studied extensively in both areas. Ms.Ojikutu made her Seattle Opera debut as Strawberry Woman in their 2011 production of Porgy and Bess. Opera News said of her performance, “Ibidunni Ojikutu's turn as Strawberry Woman was as charming as the lilt in her voice.”
A recipient of the top award in the Seattle Opera Guild Training Grant Competition, Ms. Ojikutu is a teaching and freelance artist with Seattle Opera Outreach and Seattle Opera. Recent credits include her Benaroya Hall debut with Showtunes Theater Company in their production of Finian's Rainbow. Ms, Ojikutu was also pleased to reprise the role of Strawberry Woman in Seattle Operas 2018 production of Porgy and Bess along with making her role debut as Serena in the same production.
Ms. Ojikutu was thrilled to make her debut with Seattle Art Song Society (SASS) as a performer in their Black Voices and Womxn's Voices Concerts. It was also a priviledge to be included as a featured artist on Lakewold Garden's "Songs From Home" concert series.
Ms. Ojikutu's current project isl Roar with collaborative pianist Rebecca Manalac. Roar is a concert of songs of and about women, featuring the works of Florence Price, Nina Simone, Libby Larsen, and others. Roar also featured the west coast premier of "Nobody Knows" with words by Mahze Kane & music by Nailah Nombeko.
Dr. Melvin Rouse Jr.
"Dr. Melvin Rouse, Jr is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Puget Sound. Though he is primarily a neuroscientist and pedagogue, having done his doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University and post-doctoral study at UC San Diego Medical School, he is also a musician with both informal and formal training in traditional Black American gospel music and jazz. Growing up the son of a preacher in a Black church, he started singing in the choir at an early age and by adolescence was the minister of music for his home church. While in college, as an organist and pianist, Dr. Rouse studied jazz theory and improvisation with Chip McNeil, Musical Director and Saxophonist for Grammy award-winning recording artist, Arturo Sandoval, and over the years has performed semi-professionally in several jazz combos. As a singer, prior to his career in science, he performed with/for noted gospel legends such as Karen Clark-Sheard and Dorinda Clark-Cole of the Clark Sisters, Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond, and many others. Though science pedagogy is professor Rouse's primary training and vocation, music is, and always will be, a core part of who he is."
Robert T. Murphy
He studied violin with Myron Kartman, Bernard Zinck, Katherine Rapaport, and string pedagogy with Darcey Drexler and Mimi Zweig. He has played in masterclasses for Jamie Laredo, the Cleveland Duo, and Robert Hanford.
Mr Murphy has played with the Cascade Symphony Orchstra (principal second), Denver Philharmonic China Tour Orchestra, Thalia Symphony (principal second violinist), Kenosha Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, and has collaborated with such artists as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Hootie and Blowfish, Crystal Gayle, and Al Jarreau.
He has attended the festivals of Spoleto Music Festival USA, the Brevard Music Festival, the Mid-America Chamber Music Institute, Milwaukee Chamber Music Festival, and the Gateways Music Festival Orchestra at the Eastman School of Music.
Mr. Murphy has taught, as a string orchestra educator and violin pedagogue, at Whitefish Bay Middle & High School Orchestra and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. His students have gone on to study at major conservatories and universities, and perform in professional orchestras. He has given masterclasses, and has adjudicated for many music festivals and competitions throughout the United States and China.