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Spring 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 2

Music of the world

SiblingsThe tenorChoraleMusical dreams

 

Ashcraft lives his musical dreams

Eric AshcraftEric Ashcraft ‘86 can’t remember a time when he didn’t love to sing. By high school, he had made the all-state choir. “Dr. John Davis, professor of music, emeritus, was guest conducting in Geneseo, when he heard me sing,” recalls Ashcraft. “On the spot Dr. Davis offered me the largest scholarship Bradley had to offer. I felt good about that rapport, and I was blown away by the Bradley Chorale when it visited Geneseo. I felt like it was meant to be. Dr. Davis and his wife Ann, an assistant professor, emeritus, in the music department, were two pillars of the music program. He supported me and pushed me to attain my highest goals. The Bradley department of music is top-notch. Nothing is done half way,” comments Ashcraft. “I wouldn’t have wanted my college experience any other way.”

Ashcraft began voice lessons at Bradley and earned his graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music. He paid his dues in New York in the 1990s where he went on two months of auditions before receiving 18 months worth of contracts in Israel, Ireland, Costa Rica, and the New York City Opera. Although he’s been back in the Midwest for nine years, he continues to perform in opera companies and symphonies worldwide. “It’s hard to cultivate support in a big Mecca like New York City. Everyone is basically concerned with survival. I’ve chosen to live back in the Midwest with my support system. I have a lot of concert work, including a shared directorship and an opportunity to conduct the orchestra in The Merry Widow. I’ve sung well over 100 performances of The Messiah in the past four years. I don’t have to be in New York to live my dream.”

Currently Ashcraft is a part-time voice teacher at Augustana College in Rock Island, and he adds, “vying for the same students as Bradley.” He’s also actively involved with City Opera Company of the Quad Cities.
Ashcraft recalls his membership in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the support and friendship of Dr. Allen Cannon, professor of music, emeritus, and accompanist Molly Sloter, and his travels abroad with the Chorale. In 1989, he joined the Chorale alumni group and journeyed to Hungary and Germany. “Once a Chorale member, always a Chorale member,” says Ashcraft. “About 40 of us recently enjoyed a Chorale reunion on campus. We started singing, and that classic chorale sound was amazing. Singing in the Chorale is a huge bond that is unforgettable.”

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