Guest Soloist: Leah McIntire-Barnett
Leah McIntire-Barnett has won accolades as both a cellist and soprano, and has been awarded state, regional, and national titles in various vocal competitions. She is a 6-time winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing state and regional competitions, and has participated in the Music Teachers' National Association (2008 national winner, 2013 national finalist). She has appeared in numerous masterclasses with various artists, including Cheryl Studer, Simon Estes and Judith Haddon; McIntire-Barnett has also been the featured young artist in ten of Estes' Roots & Wings Tour concerts across the state of Iowa, and has participated in two of Estes' Young Artist Performance Programs. In 2010, McIntire-Barnett became the youngest soprano to play a leading role for La Musica Lirica as Violetta Valery in Verdi's La Traviata. McIntire-Barnett has appeared as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (Drake University), as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Drake University and University of Missouri-Kansas City) and as the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte (International Lyric Academy). McIntire-Barnett received a BA in voice and cello from Drake University and an MM in vocal performance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. McIntire-Barnett lives in Kansas City with her husband, Dave, and their daughter, Ellie.
Narrator: Van Harden
Van Harden is the host of the most listened to radio program in Iowa history, “Van and Bonnie In The Morning,” heard on WHO Radio weekdays from 5 until 9 am. He recently retired as Program Director of the station after 30 years in that position. The National Association of Broadcasters has awarded Van, personally, with five Marconi Awards, the radio equivalent of the Oscar. Under Van’s leadership since his coming to WHO Radio in 1986, the station has been awarded a total of 13 Marconi Awards. While working his first radio job at KDLS FM in Perry, Iowa, Van attended Drake University where he graduated in 1973, earning a B.A. in Radio/TV journalism. From Perry he moved to KWEN FM in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a year, and then spent 10 years as a mid-day radio personality at KRNT in Des Moines. Van then became the morning man and Program Director at WHO. He at one time served as Development Director for the American Lung Association of Iowa, and owned KLSN Radio in Jefferson, Iowa. He has also become a noted inventor with his creation of both the “Van Harden DayTeller” timepiece and the “Van Harden Cheese Crust Pizza.” He also hosted the Van and Connie TV Show for four and a half years on WHO TV. And he has become a noted author and speaker with his book “Life in the Purple Wedge.”
Van has the distinction of being the only person ever to sit in every single seat in Veterans Memorial Auditorium and Wells Fargo Arena. He was awarded the Presidential Award for public service from George W. Bush by Michael W. Smith in 2013. He and his listeners helped save the USS Iowa. He has been an adult Bible teacher for over 35 years. He was born and raised in Adel and lives in his childhood home.
Born in Centerville, Iowa, in 1932, Dr. Simon Estes’ first singing experience came at the age of eight when he performed with the choir in Centerville’s Second Baptist Church. From those humble roots, Dr. Estes would become one of his generation’s greatest bass-baritones.
After enrolling at the University of Iowa in the late 1950’s as a pre-med and psychology major, Dr. Estes became the first African American member of the university’s Old Gold Singers. His voice caught the attention of Iowa music faculty member Charles Kellis, Estes’ first and only vocal teacher.
Dr. Estes won the Bronze Medal in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky competition in 1966 and it signaled the launch of his international career. He would go on to build a global reputation and win numerous awards and accolades while performing with 84 of the major international opera companies as well as 115 orchestras around the world. He also advocated for more opportunities for African American performers.
Even as Estes achieved stardom on stage, he helped others in Iowa and elsewhere through many philanthropic efforts. He also inspired new generations as a teacher at music schools around the world and in Iowa, including Wartburg College, Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Des Moines Area Community College.
The Simon Estes Foundation
Special thanks go to the Simon Estes Foundationfor the participation of Simon Estes in this year’s Memorial Day concert. Through the Foundation, Simon has been able to raise awareness as well as funds to save children in Africa from malaria. Working in conjunction with The United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Netsprogram, Simon has helped to raise $532,000 to fight this deadly but preventable disease.In addition, his scholarships have provided 200 Iowa high school students with over $200,000 to further their academic pursuits.