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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Boyd is set to fulfill lifelong dream

Monday, March 21, 2005

(Photo)
Neal E. Boyd
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Sikeston, Mo., native Neal E. Boyd is about to fulfill a lifelong dream.

The 29-year-old lyric tenor is returning to his classical roots and will perform as the tenor soloist for Andrew Lloyd Webber's haunting Requiem along side the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The two concerts will take place on April 1-2 at venues in Springfield and Bloomington-Normal.

Requiem was written for Webber's late father who died in 1982. The renowned lyric tenor, Placido Domingo, was tapped to debut the challenging masterpiece along side soprano Sarah Brightman during the world premiere at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York in 1985. The two would later reprise their roles with the London Symphony Orchestra later that same year.

"You dream of opportunities like these," said Boyd about the upcoming performance. The symphony first contacted Boyd in January 2004.

Performers often signed years before major concerts are presented.

"It's nice to have that security and to know you will still be singing professionally in the years to come," he remarked.

Boyd's professional debut came in New York City in 2001 at Carnegie Hall. This is how many with the Illinois Symphony first heard about his voice. "The symphony was very gracious and eager to sign me on," he said. "They are giving me a chance to take my professional career to the next level. It's a great honor."

Boyd said he has dreamed of singing Andrew Lloyd Webber's music since he was a freshman at Sikeston Junior High.

"My old band director, Ed Cowan, played 'The Phantom of the Opera' to my class. I was captivated by the voices and the melodies. At that moment, I fell in love with Webber's musical style," Boyd recalled.

But Boyd did not stop with 'Phantom.' He first heard Requiem when he was still in high school. "Requiem is nothing like 'Phantom.' In many ways it's more powerful. It will move you," he said.

The lyric tenor was chronicled in the Kansas City Star in 2001 just after his New York debut. At that time he responded to similarities between himself and Domingo.

"He is a legend. His voice is huge and his style is memorable, as I hope mine is," Boyd said about Domingo.

This is Boyd's first major professional engagement since pioneering the role of York in the world premier of the Lewis and Clark opera "Corps of Discovery."

"That opera was three years of my life that I am very proud of, but it didn't leave time for much else," he said. "Getting to pioneer a role and aria so early in my career was unexpected and challenging. But on a personal level, meeting my beautiful girlfriend, Heather, was the best part of that experience."

Besides Boyd's great versatility on stage, he often jokes that he is sucker for local and national politics. He is often seen stumping for candidates at high-

profile events and singing a very familiar tune.

"The closer you get to an election, the more you will here me singing the National Anthem. If John Ashcroft can be a singing politician, so can I," he said.

Tens of thousands of people have heard him perform the treasured song from multiple venues in Washington D.C., and Jefferson City, Mo., to Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo., and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. His love for public service keeps him constantly involved in the issues facing Missouri, especially in the Bootheel. In 2003 and 2004, he actively campaigned for Governor Matt Blunt, Senator Christopher Bond and President George W. Bush.

"It is no secret that I have a great love for public service. I love my family and the communities that have supported me throughout the years," he said.

When asked if he would consider a run for office one day, he replied: "I have been approached several times to run. I've been heavily involved in the issues facing the state, especially St. Louis and Southeast Missouri, in different capacities, for more than 10 years now. Having the opportunity to serve the people who have helped me go so far in life is not out of the question."

Though he insisted that politics is his second love, he maintained that Jefferson City and New York City will always be at odds in his life.

"My voice has taken me all over the world I am just glad to still have opportunities to sing close to home," Boyd said.

The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. April 1 in Braden Auditorium, Bloomington-

Normal and at 8 p.m. April 2 at Sangamon Auditorium, Springfield. Concert Comments will be at 7:15 p.m.

To get tickets to Neal's Requiem performances contact: the Illinois Symphony at www.ilsymphony.org and go to the Masterworks Series Link.

Or contact the Illinois Symphony ticket offices: Ticket Office Bloomington -- Normal, Illinois Braden Auditorium at (309) 438-5444 or Ticket Office Springfield, Illinois Sangamon Auditorium at (217) 206-6160. Also tickets are available by logging onto Ticketmaster at http://www.ticketmaster.com/

venue/57355

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra will also be performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 along with Requiem.