A bass-baritone is rewarded for his many gifts

A bass-baritone is rewarded for his many gifts


norman lebrecht

March 05, 2020

The University of Iowa has named its music hall after Simon Estes, the eminent bass-baritone who first registered at the campus as a medical student, then as a scholar of religious studies.

Estes, 82, had a massive career in Europe before, in 1981, the Met deigned to offer him a role.

In retirement, he has given more than $220,000 in scholarships to students in 54 countries.

Photo: Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily


  • Cubs Fan says:

    Correction: this was at Iowa State University in Ames, not at the University of Iowa, which is in Iowa City.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Whoa!! Yes, Iowa [University of] vs. Iowa State rivalry – confusing the two can lead to ugly verbal exchanges, possibly even fist fights. That said….

    This is a truly well-deserved honor for one of Iowa’s greatest native sons. (I was very pleased to discover, upon moving here years ago, that one of my favorite opera singers was an Iowa native!)

    Estes is still singing, too – gave an excellent concert with the Des Moines Symphony last April.

  • Joseph says:

    It’s kind of an odd move on the of Iowa State. The honor comes from Iowa State University in Ames, though Estes is indeed an alumnus of The University of Iowa in Iowa City, and was never enrolled at Iowa State that I’m aware of.

    • Vaquero357 says:

      Good point, Joseph! He does have an honorary doctorate from Iowa State and was some sort of artist in residence there for a while. So there is some connection.

  • BillOxford says:

    Estes is 82! Time certainly does fly. I had no idea Mr Estes first entered Iowa State to read Medicine. A great artist; a shame he was properly recognised relatively late by his native US.

    • Joseph says:

      He didn’t enter Iowa State — he was an undergraduate student at The University of Iowa, first studying pre-Med (Medicine is a graduate school subject only), then later religion). But I’ll agree, he was indeed a great artist, and has been extraordinarily generous and involved with several universities and colleges in his home state of Iowa.