Taking the next step
WPO singer going to grad school
Nathan Bowles, a local operatic singer, is heading off to graduate school in the fall for voice performance, hoping to do what he loves most for a living.
Bowles is a recent Minot State University graduate, earning his bachelor’s in the Science of Education in Music last December. Music has been an integral part of his life since childhood, especially singing.
He played the role of the father in the most recent performance of “Hansel and Gretel” with Western Plains Opera.
“They hired me to sing in it, essentially,” Bowles said. That performance was also the biggest operatic role he has had in his singing career so far.
After finishing his student teaching at Magic City Campus in December, he began looking into graduate school for voice performance. Over the course of a month, the young singer visited four universities, and a college in Boulder was replaced with one in Dallas at the last minute.
David Cangelosi had been brought in to play the part as the witch in the “Hansel and Gretel” opera. He contacted Clifton Forbis with Southern Methodist University in Dallas and told him about Bowles’ talent and passion for singing.
Forbis then contacted Bowles and asked him to send a video of him singing.
“I ended up being able to apply. They offered me a full scholarship,” Bowles said with a smile. “It blew my mind. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
In a couple of months, he will be moving to Dallas to settle into a studio apartment. He laughed when he mentioned how great it was to be living off campus.
“It’s somewhere far enough away from school where I’m not going to, you know, deal with the frats and whatnot,” he said.
The undergraduate freshmen would have had to live in the dorms on campus for their first year. Southern Methodist University is a little more lax with the living arrangements of their incoming graduate students, whether they are new or returning students to the campus.
His introduction to singing and music came from Bowles’ parents. They wanted him to join the children’s choir with Western Plains Opera. It was something that they had always wanted him to do and he “never really wanted to because, you know, little angsty children and all that.” He was nine years old and probably had other things that he wanted to do with his time.
Bowles’ parents were both music professors at Minot State University for several years before they retired.
“I was always around choral music, singing opera, all of that, as a kid whether I liked it or not,” Bowles said. “When they didn’t have a babysitter, they would take me to their choir concerts.”
Time passed and they eventually convinced him to join the children’s choir.
“That’s kind of where I started singing and it mostly accounts for a large part of my childhood growing up,” he said.
In middle school, he tried playing the viola and the French horn, but neither of them had as much of an impact on him as singing. By the time his freshman year of high school came around, he joined the school choir.
“That’s kind of where it stuck with me the most,” Bowles stated.
From that point, he said, he branched out to doing musical theater through Central and Magic City Campuses. All that experience singing with groups gave him the opening he needed to become a chorus member with Western Plains Opera.
While he was looking at colleges with voice performance graduate programs, he visited Oklahoma University. At the same time, it just so happened that the Benton Schmidt Vocal Competition was taking auditions. He entered and passed the pre-screening, going all the way to the semi-finals and placing third out of 30 people.
Singing is his passion and he loves it so much that he is hoping that he can make a career as a performer. He really enjoys teaching choir to high school students, but if he had to pick between the two, he would take the opportunity to be a traveling singer.
A great perk, Bowles said, was that some professional opera singers have access to a private studio at a university and can use that space to do individual lessons with students and help them improve in different areas.
Thinking back to attending his parents’ choir concerts as a kid, he said, “And you know what, I appreciate it now. I rolled my eyes then, but I really think that introduced me to it and grew my passion for choral teaching.”
Being a performer would also give him the chance to improve his own voice and go much further in his career. If he chooses to follow the path of teaching younger generations, his singing experience will add to the classroom, as well. There are plenty of opportunities for a young singer like Bowles. With the help of those around him, hard work and determination, he aims to achieve his dreams.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or call 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)