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2017 Arrington Lecture Features Walter Rudolph and Opera

Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017

Arrington Lecture presenter Walter Rudolph

Walter Rudolph will offer the 2017 Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 N. Main Street, Logan. Area university students are encouraged to enter the associated writing competition.

Opera has a unique way of strengthening character, developing empathy, releasing emotions and touching one’s soul according to Walter B. Rudolph, retired general manager of Classical 89, KBYU-FM and featured guest for Utah State University’s 2017 Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture in Logan.

Rudolph presents “Opera and its Voices in Utah” with a performance by American tenor Stanford Olsen, Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., at the Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 North Main Street. The lecture is free and open to all.

Leonard Arrington, the namesake of the lecture series, was a well-known historian and author and an economist. The “how and why” of Western development were important to him. The annual lecture honors Arrington, whose papers were donated to Utah State University’s Special Collections and Archives, a division in USU’s University Libraries. Part of the gift agreement was to offer an annual lecture on some facet of Mormon history.

“Opera initially did not cross the plains with the Mormon pioneers, nor did classical music,” Rudolph said. “But singing was a very important part of the pioneer heritage and everyday lives.”

The construction of the Salt Lake Theatre in the late 1860s ripened the city for opera. Homegrown productions and operetta fare increased awareness, allowing the Salt Lake and Ogden tabernacle choirs to include operatic excerpts in their performances. As interest in opera grew, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir became the first of several venues to host recitals and concerts with the world’s leading opera singers, Rudolph explained.

Brad Cole, dean for University Libraries and former director of Special Collections and Archives, coordinates the lecture series on behalf of USU. He has a long association with both the lecture series and the Arrington Foundation.

“I believe that we have met Leonard’s expectations for the lecture series,” Cole said in a previous interview. “We’ve had a mix of historians with long careers as well as those just making a name for themselves. We’ve balanced the series between current themes and long standing themes of Mormon history.”

Cole is pleased that Rudolph brings vast knowledge of how music plays an important role in Utah’s development through history.

“I am excited because this topic speaks to Leonard Arrington’s personal interest in the arts, especially Italian opera and also how these cultural topics affected the history of Utah and the American West,” he said.

Rudolph earned a bachelor’s in music and a master’s in musicology from Brigham Young University. He started a career in performance and teaching in the mid-1970s before turning to public radio. KBYU-FM became the noted source of classical music and arts support throughout the Wasatch front under Rudolph’s leadership.

According to Rudolph, the list of visiting operatic artists in Utah is extraordinary and equally unexpected is the diversity of standard repertoire, and those operas directly connected to Utah.

“In the midst of this repertoire is another facet to the life of Leonard Arrington,” Rudolph said.

Olsen, professor of voice from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, will perform during the lecture. One of the most successful and versatile artists of his time, his career spans more than 1,200 performances on five continents over the course of 30 years. Since his professional debut, he has performed more than 160 times with New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Cole calls Olsen an “engaging and lively” performer. Olsen will perform three arias that will tie into Rudolph’s lecture.

University Libraries is proud to sponsor the lecture, which is also part of the USU’s Caine College of the Arts 2017-18 Year of the Arts, a year-long celebration of events and promotions spotlighting the unique power of the arts to illuminate, transform and inspire the human spirit. The Year of the Arts will showcase the breadth, depth, power and purpose of artistic exploration and expression at USU across colleges, departments and regional campuses.

Other sponsors of the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture are the Leonard J. Arrington Lecture and Archives Foundation;  the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Utah State University.

A writing competition for the region’s college and university students is a part of the lecture. The competition encourages a continuation of the lecture’s namesake’s scholarly tradition and legacy. Cash awards are presented to the top three students who submit essays based on the lecture. Contact USU’s Special Collections and Archives for details, (435) 797-2663.

Related links:
USU Special Collections and Archives
USU’s University Libraries

Contact: Brad Cole, 435-797-8268,

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