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Toledo native Michael Patterson’s Opera unveiled at world premier

February 24, 2009
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald


Editor's Note: Dr. Michael Patterson is the son of Charles and Lois Patterson, Toledo and a 1971 graduate of South Tama High School. Mark Patterson, Tama, is his brother.

Patterson, is a graduate of Simpson College and holds post-graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Oklahoma. He has worked with the Des Moines Metro Opera for more than 30 years. Currently an Associate Professor of Music Education at Simpson College, he has also been an instructor and accompanist for the Simpson College Orpheus Festival and Elderhostel.

Article Photos

Toledo native Michael Patterson
Simpson College photo

He founded and administrates the Music Education Workshop series at Simpson, which for nine years has featured nationally recognized clinicians in workshops each semester. Patterson has composed numerous songs for solo voice and piano, choral works and an opera, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which toured with OPERA Iowa in 2003 and 2004.

Simpson College is paying tribute to George Washington Carver this year in the George Washington Carver Legacy Series. After being denied admission to another university in the Midwest, Carver walked 25 miles to Simpson College and was admitted on registration day. At Simpson he developed his artistic skills as a painter but was encouraged to study botany. He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree at Iowa State Agricultural College.

When receiving his honorary doctorate from Simpson in 1928, Carver said the college's effect on him was everlasting: "I owe to Simpson College my real beginning in life."

INDIANOLA- - OPERA Iowa, Des Moines Metro Opera's educational touring troupe, is now presenting a newly-commissioned opera during its 23d annual tour, through April 10. A world premiere performance took place on Jan. 23 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

Composed by Toledo's own Dr. Michael Patterson, A Dream Fulfilled: The Saga of George Washington Carver is a 50-minute opera that delves into the life of the agricultural pioneer and Iowa hero, focusing on the key events that would shape the destiny of this great scientist. A Dream Fulfilled was created in cooperation with the State Historical Society of Iowa, which has provided research assistance.

To bring this story to the children of Iowa, DMMO and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs formed a partnership that creates week-long residencies for the OPERA Iowa troupe at the beginning and end of the next two touring seasons.

During the residencies, OPERA Iowa, museum curators, historians and professional Iowa artists willfacilitate interactive workshops that connect students to Iowa history, interpret the museum and teach more about Carver and otherfamous Iowans. OPERA Iowa will also give performances at the Historical Building for Golden Circle-area school children and - in the eight weeks between residencies - travel the length and breadth of the state with its award-winning combination of education and entertainment.

"The State Historical Museu's History Through the Arts theater program is very pleased to join with the Des Moines Metro Opera and present the George Washington Carver opera for children in the Cowles-Kruidenier Auditorium,"" DCA Director Cyndi Pederson said. "We believe that children learn through interactive programs and teaching them about George Washington Carver is a great way for them to learn about international, national and Iowa history."

A Dream Fulfilled begins in Winterset when Carver learns that he will attend Simpson College. The story then transitions to Indianola and from there to Iowa State University in Ames where Carver did groundbreaking work in botany. The opera culminates in the United States Capitol with Carver's testimony before Congress.

"Des Moines Metro Opera is pleased to be able to present this new work which further immortalizes one of the great figures in our state's history,"' said Thomas Smith, DMMO's Executive Director and CEO. "'Just as exciting is the opportunity to collaborate again with an accomplished composer such as Dr. Patterson, and to forge a new partnership with the state's Department of Cultural Affairs, which along with the Iowa Arts Council, provides critical financial and logistical support to so many of the cultural organizations that make Iowa an attractiveplace to live, work and play."

During their residencies in schools, the troupe members present interactive workshops that fulfill the National Standards for Arts in Education requirements, helping students learn more and enjoy the opera performance more. OPERA Iowa has previously presented the world premieres of three operas: Amy Tate Williams's Rumpelstiltskin, Stephen Paulus's Harmoonia and Michael Patterson's The Tale of Peter Rabbit.



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