The Simon Estes Educational Foundation
Internationally renowned opera star Simon Estes garners enthusiastic praise from critics and audiences around the world. He has performed with all the major opera companies: the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Grand Opera Paris, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the State Operas of Munich, Hamburg, Vienna, and the Zurich Opera. Among his operatic engagements have been performances of “Macbeth”, “The Flying Dutchman”, “Salome”, “Parsifal”, “Simon Boccanegra”, “Tosca”, “Prince Igor”, “Der Ring des Nibelungen”, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. He has also performed recitals and orchestral engagements in numerous European cities including Brussels, Madrid, Munich, Bonn, Toulouse, Paris, Lausanne, Bordeaux, and Zurich.
A native of Centerville, Iowa, Simon Estes first sang at the age of eight in the city’s Second Baptist church. While working his way through the University of Iowa as a pre-med and psychology student, he became the first black member of the University’s Old Gold Singers. As a member of this group, he came to the attention of faculty member Charles Kellis, his first and most important teacher with whom he still studies today. After entering Juilliard School, Simon Estes went to Europe with a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation and with funds raised for him by the New York Community Trust and the NAACP. He made his operatic debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Ramfis in “Aida”.
Known throughout the world for his opera, concert, and recital performances as well as his recordings, Simon Estes still finds time to share his love and knowledge of music with students from elementary school through college. In his master classes he attempts to teach not only music, but artistic and personal values as well. Since 1985 he has taught at the Juilliard School of Music. His love and concern for youth is also manifested in the four scholarship organizations he has created. The Simon Estes Educational Foundation, Inc. in Tulsa is the most broad-based. Each year selected students are offered major scholarships to attend the universities and pursue the majors of their choice. The success of this Foundation has spawned the formation of The Simon Estes International Foundation, Inc., Zurich, Switzerland in 1984 and The Simon Estes Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa in 1996. Restricted music scholarships are offered in Estes’ name at Centerville Community College, the University of Iowa, and through the Simon Estes Iowa Arts Scholarship Fund.
Simon Estes is the father of three lovely daughters, Jennifer Barbara, Lynne Ashley, and Tiffany Joy. He and his wife, Ovida, divide their time between homes in New Jersey and Zurich.