Alum returns for special vocal performance

A Mississippi State alumnus and rising New York operatic baritone will give a special recital Thursday, Sept. 8 at his alma mater.

Corey McKern will be featured in a free 7:30 p.m. program in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium of Giles Hall. His performance is sponsored by the university's music department, from which he graduated in 1999.

In addition to the Thursday night program, McKern will lead several departmental workshops for current MSU music majors. The Pelham (Ala.) High School graduate also holds a master's degree from Indiana University's highly regarded Jacobs School of Music.

"We are delighted to welcome Corey back to campus to perform for the community and to work with our students," said Craig Aarhus, associate director of MSU bands.

"He has enjoyed great success throughout the country as a professional musician, and we are proud he is a graduate of our department," he said, adding that McKern also will be honored by the department as an alumnus of the year.

The recital will include selected art songs and arias, including "Largo al factotum" from Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"; Franz Schubert's "An die Musik," "Du bist die ruh" and "Rastlose liebe"; Ambroise Thomas' "O vin dissipe la tristesse" from "Hamlet"; and Gene Scheer's "Lean Away" and "American Anthem." Two musical theater pieces will be "If Ever I Would Leave You" and "Some Enchanted Evening."

McKern debuted at Carnegie Hall as baritone soloist in Faure's "Requiem" and with the New Choral Society of New York in Handel's "Messiah" and Orff's "Carmina Burana." [For more, visit]

Linda Karen Smith, professor emerita of music, recalled McKern enrolling at MSU as an instrumental music major who played the saxophone.

"During his first semester, he participated in a required vocal class that I taught," Smith said. "Soon, a beautiful, natural voice with amazing potential was discovered and, by the second semester, he had changed his major to vocal music education."

As a student, McKern sang male leads in campus productions of "South Pacific" and "Man from La Mancha," as well as in "Lily," an original opera written by then department head Doug McConnell that premiered at MSU.

"With his outstanding work ethic, Corey was admired by both the faculty and his peers at MSU," Smith noted. "He won the Governor's Award at the National Association of Teachers of Singing's regional convention, as well as the Metropolitan Opera's district auditions.

"The Governor's Award represents the highest honor given at that competition, and his Metropolitan Opera audition was an amazing achievement," she added.

Smith, who followed her former student's progress after his MSU graduation, said McKern earned a coveted "Young Artist" position with the Seattle (Wash.) Opera after completing his Indiana University graduate degree in vocal performance. From there, he moved on to New York City and began the current phase of his career, she said.

Giles Hall, site of McKern's recital, is located at the intersection of Collegeview Street and B.F. Hood Road. It is home to the College of Architecture, Art and Design and the School of Architecture.

Sammy McDavid | University Relations

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