Talented duo comes home
Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008 2:51 pm
wcp 7-17-08 Two Gibson County natives, Leigh Holman and Jim 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, Colo., 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.
Leigh Holman’s parents, Bob and Berlynne Holman, both attended high school in Martin, and later attended the University of Tennessee Junior College in Martin.
They lived and worked for a time in Union City before moving to Trenton with the Ben Franklin stores. Leigh attended UT Martin for part of her undergraduate work as a vocal student of Marilyn Jewitt.
The first concert will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at First United Methodist Church, 500 S. College St. in Trenton, with proceeds to benefit Nite Lite Theater.
The second concert will be the following night, at 7:30 Sunday, July 20, at First United Methodist Church, 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.”
Leigh 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 Co., National Opera Co., 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 “The Sound of Music,” and later worked as performer, director and business manager.
James Ramsey is director of music ministry and arts at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Ramsey earned a doctor of musical arts degree in choral literature and performance with Joan Conlon at the University of Colorado at Boulder, 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.
He 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, 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 he 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,” said 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.”