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World-renowned musician visits PSU music department

Robert Dean Smith, PSU alumnus in music who has performed around the world, was invited by the music department to critique students in a master class on their performance of standard operatice repertoire.  

The class took a place on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 1 to 2 p.m. at McCray hall in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall. 

Smith is a world-renowned musician and has performed in concerts with many musicians including the Royal Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, Bayerische Staatsorchester Munich, the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

“I was invited here by the music department to perform with the orchestra..,” Smith said. “I was here… in 2003 or 2004 for a piano recital but this time with orchestra. It was a great opportunity and I worked it out with the conductor Dr. Munguia… It’s a pleasure to be here to do this.”  

Smith got his two bachelor’s degrees from Pittsburg State University in 1980 in music education and music performance. 

During the master class, Smith was listening and guiding students, giving them tips to help the determine mistakes and perform better. 

“Unfortunately, it was one hour long but I know that every opportunity a student or young students can get to perform in front of colleagues which is some of the hardest to do… you grow a little bit each time so I’m happy for the opportunity to maybe give them some coins or inspirational coins or some couple of tips,” Smith said. 

Smith said that his goal is to give students inspiration to love the music and help them understand the reason why they are studying music.  

“If I can help them communicate what maybe they are looking for, they sense it in their bodies, their minds… That little bit extra will help them maybe make it one more step to achieving their goals and that’s what I hope to do.” 

“Robert Smith was actually an undergraduate here many many moons ago I think his last year was my first year here which would have been 1978 or 1979..,” said Robert Kehle, professor of music. “He has got an incredible international  career as an opera singer. He’s got… incredible pipes. His lungs, he can really fill up a hole.. Smith will be performing with the orchestra on Thursday night here at the Bicknell and then he will be performing Sunday with the orchestra when they play in the Kaufman center in Kansas City which of course is very very exciting…” 

Kehle said that he was amazed when he heard that Robert Smith sings with many major opera companies in New York. 

“Of course, that’s kind of the premier American opera company..,” Kehle said. “So to be asked to sing there would be pretty darn impressive and that’s really the top of your field.” 

Kehle said that the Recital Hour class with Smith is definitely a great experience and opportunity for music students to learn and grow. 

“You know it was kind of funny when one of our vocal teachers was sitting behind me while a student was performing in front of Smith and he said, ‘I told her that,’ and so sometimes when you hear it from somebody else, it all of a sudden becomes different than hearing it from your teachers, yet it might be exactly the same thing,” said Hannah Overbey, senior in music education and one of the performers of the master class. “He is a world-renowned tenor and he came in and part of his stay here is doing a master class with some of the students so three students got to go up and perform pieces and get critiques from him.” 

Smith also said that music can inspire students to become what they want and achieve their goals. 

  “Whatever you are doing, do it for the love of music..,” Smith said. “That has brought open so many doors for me and aside from that the music has enriched my life so much that in times of despair or the times of joy both… The music is always there and supports me and having that whether you are professional musician, a teacher , or just someone who works at a computer job and loves music. That music, that knowledge of communicating through music and with music makes all the difference.” 

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