About your host
For some, making music is akin to making love. Others might add: “Yes, and it's just as ridiculous.” Kathie Finney was drawn to opera because of the high notes. Like the mountains, they were there, and she longed to ascend to them.
While attending Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University) in the latter 1960s, she had the opportunity to sing “The Willow Song” from Douglas Moore's "The Ballad of Baby Doe." As she recalls, the composer Howard Hanson — having retired from 40 years as Director of the Eastman School of Music — came to give a Master Class for his friend B. A. Nugent, who directed KSTC's Music Department. Kathie sang a high D on that occasion — probably the highest note (in pitch) that she has attained over subsequent years of singing as an avocation.
To drop a few other names, Kathie has crossed paths (ever so briefly) with Sir David Willcocks, Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge from 1957 to 1974. In the late 1980s, Sir Willcocks came to Colorado Springs to conduct Ralph Vaughan Williams' Hodie at First Presbyterian Church. This was Kathie's first occasion to sing with orchestra as soprano soloist.
Although she sings opera, most of her stage appearances have been in opera choruses: Verdi's La Traviata (two productions) and Il Trovatore, Bizet's Carmen, Gounod's Faust, Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Puccini's Turandot, and Beethoven's Fidelio.
Most challenging and satisfying (musically) for Kathie as a soloist was singing the role of Abigaille in excerpts from Verdi's Nabucco. This performance at Colorado College in Colorado Springs was under the direction of Donald P. Jenkins.
Much of Kathie's career was spent as Quality Assurance supervisor related to eligibility for the State of Colorado's programs for low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. As a lifelong singer, however, her appreciation for opera has grown—for its spectacle and grandeur, its performers, its integration of the performing and visual arts, for tangential history—for sometimes being bigger than life. May this Metropolitan Opera season of 2011-2012 hold delights and surprises for you as well, and may you be drawn to opera, like the mountains...because they're there.