It didn't take long for Blaine Hendsbee to see something special in the University of Lethbridge. Similarly, when the University was looking to introduce operatic performance to its undergraduate student body, Hendsbee was a particularly perfect fit for the role.
"When I first came to the University I was primarily an opera singer and I had a small private voice studio in New York City," says Hendsbee. "The job was looking for someone who had a strong interest in operatic voice performance and someone who was eager to develop an undergraduate voice operatic workshop."
Hendsbee was that eager body, having gained an appreciation for the University and the Faculty of Fine Arts from a guest performance he'd made previously.
"I was giving a solo recital in Lethbridge about 12 years ago and I was immediately struck by the spirit and energy of both the students and faculty, as well as the incredible facilities," he says.
Hendsbee is a wonderful example of how the University and its faculty have grown over the past 45 years, with instructors that push research boundaries, are active in their field of study and who put great value in the undergraduate student experience.
"Working at the University of Lethbridge has enabled me to combine all facets of what I love about singing and performing and teaching, all in one wonderful package," says Hendsbee. "I am able to still perform as an operatic solo performer as well as share that gift and love of operatic singing with a wonderful new generation of singers at the University."
In fact, it was that particular aspect of his position, creating a new operatic culture on campus, which peaked his interest in the job.
"That I could bring forward my professional experiences in operatic performance to help open doors and opportunities for young singers who wanted to explore the genre was very appealing," he says.
He has helped nurture the artistic scene throughout southern Alberta and is thrilled to bring a new initiative to Lethbridge audiences this spring with Mozart's The Magic Flute.
"It's an exciting new collaboration with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Glenn Klassen," says Hendsbee of the Feb. 3-4 performances. "It's an incredible opportunity and exciting new venture for both the symphony and the U of L Opera Workshop as we'll be bringing this partnership to the wider community of Lethbridge to enjoy."
Hendsbee's active research centres on solo creative performance with a focus on English language repertoire. On Saturday, Jan. 14, he headlines the Faculty Artists and Friends Series when he presents Blaine Hendsbee & Friends at 8 p.m. in the University Recital Hall.
Ask him what his most memorable moment at the University is and it has nothing to do with his own performances, but rather the growth of his students.
"I remember sitting at a performance of The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, and it was the final curtain call," he says. "The students were all coming out to take their bows before a wonderfully appreciative audience, and to see the radiant joy on their faces as they accepted this show of gratitude from the audience was wonderful. This was a culmination of so many hours of work, and to see how happy they were from that experience was something I'll always remember."
This story first appeared in the January edition of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.