Samantha Gossard in New York City

West central Ohio native Samantha Gossard brings her vocal talents back home, from competing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to Trinity United Methodist Church and the OSU-Lima campus

“I’m here in New York City at The Metropolitan Opera representing Western Ohio, where I was born and raised!” said Samantha Gossard, 28, while standing in front of The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on March 6.

Gossard is a 2012 Lima Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Vocal Award winner and Metropolitan Opera National Council Semi-Finalist. She added “I was born in Lima, then went to school and had my voice lessons in Sidney. I’m a Western Ohio girl!”

Vocal Performance & Masterclass

On the first weekend in June, Gosssard returns to Lima to treat Lima / Allen County residents to an elite vocal performance, followed the next day by a free vocal master class for area eighth graders through sophomores in college. Similarly aged, area students interested in the filmmaking arts will also have an opportunity to learn how to be documentary-style news stringers for free, videotaping the vocal masterclass.

The voice recital and the voice master class are open to be viewed by the public, courtesy of several of Lima / Allen County’s arts-related foundations and supporters, in collaboration with an area church and university.

On Friday, June 3 at 7:00pm at Trinity United Methodist Church, Gossard will perform American Songbook standards, art song and opera arias including Habanera from Bizet’s “Carmen” and the romantic So in Love from “Kiss Me Kate”, by Cole Porter.

In lieu of admission, a free-will offering is encouraged to support Gossard’s national audition expenses; in turn, she’ll forward a portion of whatever is donated at Trinity to the Youth Programs of the Lima Symphony Orchestra.

Then on Saturday, June 4 from 11am-2:30pm, at the Martha W. Farmer Theater for the Performing Arts in Reed Hall at Ohio State Lima, Gossard will teach a vocal master class to area voice students, from eighth grade through high school, up to college sophomores.

Pre-registration for the vocal master class is a requirement; you can find more details and register here for Samantha Gossard’s vocal master class as part of The Heartland Image’s Professional Guest Artist Workshop Series.

The free vocal master class and concurrent filmmaker afternoon workshop, both open to public audience at Reed Hall, is coordinated by The Heartland Image Foundation, also sponsored by The Lima Symphony Orchestra, The Council for The Arts of Greater Lima, The Ohio State University at Lima and Mary Elmquist-Lane, who’s also coordinating the event at Trinity.

Samantha’s Journey

In March, Gossard was one of a select group of the nation’s elite young opera singers, all semi-finalists who had won a regional competition that brought them to a stage most singers only dream of performing on.

Currently in the repertory company of The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Gossard’s journey to the pinnacle of the art form took her from undergraduate studies at Indiana Wesleyan in church music and Christian worship, to a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Gossard said she’s excited to be returning and giving back to the West-Central Ohio region where, like the students she’ll teach in Saturday’s voice master class, she first studied voice in high school, with Lima’s David Schneider.

Winning the 2012 Lima Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, Gossard explained, helped prepare her for the high pressure of auditioning and competing for singing roles, at the highest levels of professional opera.

Elizabeth Brown, Executive Director for The Lima Symphony Orchestra, said the Young Artist Competition is “a great opportunity for high school kids, for college kids, for conservatory people to come and perform, because it allows them to get critiqued by professional judges.

“The age cut off is 26, so beautiful, young, developing talent compete and Samantha is the prime example of that. She’s done amazing things and she’s coming back to grace us with her voice again.

“And we are so thrilled that she’s coming back to Lima. And she’s going to be able to do a master class for all these beautiful young students,” she said. Promoting and preserving musical excellence in both performance and education is a key part of the mission for the Lima Symphony Orchestra.

Brown added “And the really neat part about this is not only that Samantha’s going to be here, but that the people behind it all grew up in Lima. They’re all Lima natives. They all have passion for the arts and what this community can be and is. And they brought it together to make this event a possibility.”

Bart Mills, Executive Director for The Council for the Arts of Greater Lima said “This is a unique opportunity for our young singers in the area.

“Singers learn by singing. They learn best when they have the opportunity to perform in front of other, better singers,” Mills said. “So the opportunity to sing for a Met semi-finalist, to hear and interact with other singers, is an opportunity no aspiring vocalist should miss out on. “The fact that we are able to offer it to them for free just makes it all that much more incredible.”

Mary Elmquist-Lane, who coordinated Gossard’s first recital at Trinity four years ago, said “Samantha has an incredible sense of community and has never forgotten her roots.

“She’s become a nationally recognized opera singer with her recent performance at the Metropolitan Opera. And her gift to our community starts with Friday night’s ‘homecoming recital’ at Trinity, then continues Saturday with the free master class at Ohio State Lima. Both events are experiences everyone in Allen County can attend, enjoy and learn from.”

Elmquist-Lane, who also donated to last summer’s Heartland Image Student Filmmaker Bootcamp, said “with the Heartland Image Foundation’s new Professional Guest Artist Workshop Series premiering on Saturday, the focus is again on the youth in our community. We have a program that will educate and provide hands-on experience, just as the foundation did with the bootcamp for filmmaking last summer.

“In this master class, Lima youth will be given the opportunity to interact with a national-caliber opera singer and tap into Samantha’s experience, in all facets of vocal performance,” she added. “It’s an opportunity that few could experience, particularly at absolutely no cost.

“Then add to it that last summer’s Student Filmmaker Bootcamp alumni and also new students can learn to be documentary filmmakers at the same time, as they videotape the voice master class. That makes it a really unique and diverse arts experience for the youth in our area.”

Dean and Director at Ohio State Lima Charlene D. Gilbert has donated the use of Reed Hall for the Saturday Voice Master Class workshop. “The arts add meaning and texture to our lives. Through them, we develop the skills for a life that goes beyond the first job, to a lifetime of engagement,” she said.

“The analytical thinking skills, teamwork and creativity that you develop in the arts make our students better people who build strong community ties,” Gilbert said. “Ohio State Lima is excite to support events and activities that help the young people of the community appreciate and engage in that process,” she said.

Flashback to March at New York City’s Lincoln Center, where The Metropolitan Opera house second balcony was filled with about 200 special-invite friends, family and National Council VIPs.

Below, five judges huddled in two rows in the middle of the otherwise empty and huge opera house, as Samantha Gossard stepped out as a solitary figure, to sing two of the same arias she’ll perform at Trinity United Methodist Church on June 3.

“I was nervous,” Gossard said. “This is where some of the greatest singers of all time have created amazing beauty on the stage. And it was intimidating, but I was more excited to be a part of everything that’s happened here for so many years.

“And it’s important to put yourself out there, on a big stage like The Met. To really see what you’re made of. You’re really competing with yourself, so just go out and have fun and sing your best and, whatever happens, happens.”

After five hours of competition on the Met Stage against the nation’s best, Gossard didn’t make the competition finals that took place the following weekend. Still, President of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Mitch Lathrop singled her out in the multi-level, opera house lobby.

“He was very congratulatory,” Gossard said. “And he told me a story about a very well-known opera singer, who wasn’t known at the time she came to the competition. An industry professional told her that she would never have a career. Well she went on to be Dame Joan Sutherland, one of the most famous and beloved opera singers of all time.

“So (Lathrop) was just telling me, it doesn’t end here for you. You keep going. You’re on the right track. You’re heading toward something wonderful and not to give up,” Gossard recalled. “And the fact that I didn’t win, doesn’t really mean anything negative for my career.

Gossard left Lincoln Center looking forward to the next steps in a career on the rise. “Next up, I am going back to Kansas City and I’m going to be singing Mercedes in Carmen, on the Lyric Opera of Kansas City Stage at the Muriel Kauffman Theater,” she said. “Then after that, I’ll be in Lima.

“I think that, being born and raised in Western Ohio shaped me and made me who I am.”