Iowa Opera Star To Be Honored In Hall Of Fame

Simon Estes is one of the most renowned names in Iowa music and will be honored on the national stage.

Simon Estes, Iowa native and world-renowned opera star, will be inducted as a part of the inaugural OPERA America Hall of Fame class in New York City. He’ll be honored in a ceremony in early 2021. The class is made up of 10 people out of 199 nominations.

Estes has performed more than 100 roles in opera, singing in 84 different opera houses around the world. His resume includes performances for six U.S. presidents and many dignitaries, including Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela. He grew up in Centerville, the grandson of a slave and the son of a coal miner. He met Charles Kellis, professor of music at the University of Iowa, which began his journey in opera, eventually attending the Julliard School of Music in New York.

Estes is a visiting professor of music at Des Moines Area Community College and has a building named after him at Iowa State University, Simon Estes Music Hall. We’ve profiled Estes in our sister publication, dsm magazine. Here’s his 2018 profile for the annual Sages Over 70 awards and a first-person story of his life. We also recently profiled his fight to end hunger in Iowa.


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