Talented duo returns home

Talented duo returns home

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2008 9:37 pm

For Leigh Holman and Jim Ramsey music has become a way of life. An avocation and a vocation. Ms. Holman’s parents, Bob and Berlynne Holman, both attended high school in Martin, and later UTJC in Martin. They lived and worked for a time in Union City before moving to Trenton with the Ben Franklin stores. Ms. Holman attended the University of Tennessee at Martin for part of her undergraduate work as a vocal student of Marilyn Jewitt. The two Gibson County natives, Ms. Holman and Ramsey, found careers pursuing their passion — singing and directing music. Following their bliss led them far from their hometowns of Trenton and Milan to the Denver area where both earned doctoral degrees in music and prestige in the arts community. Now the talented singers are coming back to Tennessee to perform benefit concerts for their hometowns. The first concert will be Saturday at 7 pm. at First United Methodist Church, located at 500 South College St., in Trenton. Proceeds will benefit Nite Lite Theater. The second concert will be Sunday at 7:30 pm at First United Methodist Church, located at 2000 Jones Blvd., in Milan near the Steve Marsh auto dealership. The Milan concert will benefit MEGA, the Milan Endowment for Growth in Academics. There will be no ticket sales or admission charge for the shows. Donations to benefit Nite Lite and MEGA will be accepted. “Jim and Leigh both wanted to come back to their school districts and do this as a way of thanking them for their education and to give back to the community,” said Jim’s mother, Marilyn Ramsey of Milan. “Jim and Leigh’s paths have crossed quite a bit over the years, and they remain good friends. They came up with this idea last year.” Ms. Holman is director of education and outreach at Opera Colorado, a vocal teacher and high lyric mezzo soprano. She holds a doctorate of musical arts degree from the University of Colorado in Voice Performance and Pedagogy. She has extensive experience in the performing arts and music education and has sung professionally with the Resident Artists of Portland Opera, Nashville Opera Company, National Opera Company, Colorado Light Opera, Wildwood Opera in Little Rock, Ark., and Opera Theatre of Rochester. She got her start in the arts with Nite Lite Theatre as Maria in Sound of Music, and later worked as performer, director and business manager. Ramsey is director of music ministry and arts at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. He earned a doctor of musical arts degree in Choral Literature and Performance with Joan Conlon at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a master of music degree in conducting from the Eastman School of Music with Donald Neuen and a bachelor of music degree in education at Middle Tennessee State University. Ramsey is also music director-conductor of the Littleton Chorale and served as chorus master for the Colorado Music Festival. As assistant conductor of the Grammy award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ramsey worked with director Vance George. Adding to the quality of the concerts will be pianist Robert Spillman, emeritus piano professor of the College of Music at the University of Colorado in Boulder. A Kentucky native, Spillman served as pianist of the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point and has performed with orchestras internationally. In 1964 Spillman was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Stuttgart. There his teachers were Arno Erfurth (piano), Hermann Reutter (Lied), Hubert Giesen (accompanying) and Henk Badings (composition). The concerts will feature a diverse blend of music, including Broadway hits from “The Sound of Music,” “Ragtime” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” “Leigh and I will sing songs from various genres,” said Ramsey. “We’ll do several musical theater tunes and will likely do a ‘Sound of Music’ set paying tribute to Leigh’s debut as Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’ at Nite Lite Theater in Trenton. I’ll do a few musical theater songs, an Old American song set, an aria from an oratorio, an aria from Le Nozze Di Figaro and, possibly, a German art song or two.” “One aspect of this collaboration is that two ‘homegrown’ kids are coming back to give back, to celebrate the arts, and for me, create a celebration of sorts for my Dad’s 30th year in music ministry at Milan First United Methodist Church, from whence I got my start in music,” added Ramsey. “We’re also going to talk a little about growing up 11 miles apart and share a little of our life stories and the many coincidences between the two of us, especially the fact that we’ve attended three schools together. It seemed like we planned it that way, I know, but alas, it was not. The funniest one was taking the doctoral entrance exams at Colorado University in Boulder and discovering that Leigh Holman was sitting directly across the aisle from me. I hadn’t seen her since Eastman, which was seven years earlier.” Published in The Messenger 7.14.08

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