Dr. John Van Cura
Professor Emeritus of Voice
John Van Cura, National Association of Teachers of Singing Master Teacher, received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. While still a young scholarship student, he debuted at the Baltimore Opera singing with renowned singers Sherrill Milnes, Birgit Nilsson, Norman Treigle, and Blanche Thebom. His mentors included Rosa Ponselle, Peter Herman Adler, and teachers Francesco Valentino, Elena Nikolaidi, Lieder specialist Alice Gerstel Duschak, and Bach choral scholar Ifor Jones. He was a winner in the Washington, D.C., International Vocal Competition, and was invited to audition at the Metropolitan Opera by Francis Robinson.
While a student he discovered a passion and ability to diagnose and help other singers with vocal problems, and he began a career in teaching at Mercer University from 1966-1976. At Mercer he taught voice, directed the opera theater, and was a choral director. During this time he was a frequent soloist with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and he distinguished himself as a performer and teacher at Florida State University, where he earned his doctorate in vocal performance and pedagogy. From 1976-1986 he taught at the University of Iowa, where he sang numerous major orchestral and choral works with choral director and friend, Don Moses, and was baritone soloist at the Classical Music Seminar in Eisenstadt, Austria.
Dr. Van Cura has sung throughout Europe and on Austrian radio and television, Radio Free Europe, and National Public Radio. He was a recipient of many Iowa Arts council Grants and was awarded a Fulbright Grant for Teaching. He has sung over fifty opera and oratorio roles, including the major works of Bach and Haydn. His students have won major vocal competitions-including the Grand Prix of the Geneva Competition, Metropolitan National Auditions, Houston Opera Competition, Dallas Opera Grants, McCammon Vocal Competition, Contemporary Opera Guild of New York, and the Liederkranz Competition-and have sung in most of the major summer opera programs for young singers in the United States, such as the Merola Program, Santa Fe, Central City, Chatauqua, Des Moines Metro, Opera North, Aspen, Lake George, and Zurich Opera Studio.
First generation students include international opera star Michele Crider, one of the foremost Verdi sopranos in the world; Carol Meyer, Metropolitan Opera soprano and prominent contemporary music specialist; Leslie Morgan, well-known singer and prominent mid-western university voice teacher; Kimm Julian, distinguished American baritone; and Mark Schnaible, international opera singer and a former Baylor student. Other aspiring singers from Baylor University include Marjorie Owens, winner of the Dallas Opera Guild grant, Houston Competition, 2004 McCammon Competition, West Palm Beach Opera Competition, and a resident artist with Houston Grand Opera; Matt Treviño, Merola Opera Program, toured the U.S. with the Western Opera Theater, and Des Moines Metro artist; and Randall Ball, currently with the Boston Opera Theater. Numerous students are also choral conductors and voice teachers in universities and colleges throughout the United States, hold positions as music ministers, are musical theater singers, as well as contemporary Christian artists Dennis McDaniel and Paul Sike.
Through continuing work with his students, he and his wife of forty years, Dr. Kim Van Cura, have been associated with many of the great conductors and singers in the major opera houses of the United States and Europe. Their son, Ken Van Cura, an M.M. graduate of Baylor University, continues the musical tradition through his music ministry at Lakeway Church in Austin. The Van Curas are the founders of a concert series, MUSIC IN SALADO, TX Inc. and the Institute for Voice and Teaching in Salado.
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