Grammy Award-winning vocalist Karim Sulayman is visiting East Carolina University this week for a three day residency that began on Wednesday and will end with a recital on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall.
Sulayman is a Lebanese-American tenor who specializes in Italian Baroque style music. He has performed all over the world and in 2018 released his first solo album “Songs of Orpheus,” according the artists website. His connection to the university stems from his connection with ECU School of Music teaching instructor, Nicole Franklin.
“Karim and I were in graduate school together at Rice University and we were dear friends, still dear friends, and so I've wanted to get him on campus for a while, but after he won the Grammy I was thinking this might be our time to try to snag him before his scheduled completely fills up,” Franklin said.
Michael Crane, Associate Dean of Research, Marketing, and Outreach for the College of Fine Arts and Communications, said students and faculty alike are excited for the visit of such a rising star in the music industry.
“Here is a person who grew up singing in the children’s choirs in Chicago and now is performing on all of the major stages with the professional operas as well as with the flagship orchestras internationally,” Cane said. “So you actually get a chance to see and hear somebody of that stature without traveling the world, but you also get to say how do I do what you’re doing?”
Sulayman’s three day residency began yesterday with a master class in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall that was open to the public. Students got on stage and each performed a piece, then Sulayman critiqued and gave suggestions to the performers in front of an audience.
Senior vocal performance major, Maggie Fox, performed in the master class yesterday under the teachings of Franklin and said that she was excited to see what the class had to offer to help improve her technique.
“She (Franklin) gave me the choice of either doing a private lesson (with Sulayman) or doing the master class, but I need more experience performing so I was like, let me do the master class,” Fox said. “I do get more nervous and my technique goes out the window sometimes so I’m excited, I think it will be really fun.”
ECU junior vocal performance major, Jacob McCain, who also sings in the same style, said he is looking forward to taking a private lesson from Sulayman while he is here.
“It’s kind of cool because we have sung a lot of the same arias and we’re the same exact voice part,” McCain said. “He is like in this rare tenor (range) and I didn’t know what it was until my freshman year and I didn’t meet another one until I met him so it’s really cool that he’s coming so I get to work with him.”
McCain said that he will also be attending the Q&A session that will be held today at 4 p.m. in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall and will be free and open to the public.
On Friday, Sulayman will finish his residency with a performance tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. as a part of the Fletcher Recital Series. He will be singing a range of different pieces with music from the 1500 and 1600s in the first half of the program and music from the late 1700s and 1800s on the second half.
Most of the music on the program is operatic in nature, but Crane urges students to come out and hear something new, even if it is not the type of music they normally listen to.
“You can take a chance as a student and you should leave here (the performance) knowing if you like reggae, knowing if you like gospel, (or) knowing if you like Italian baroque,” Crane said. “Here’s your shot, it’s really inexpensive and it is some of the best quality performance that you can expose yourself to.”
Tickets for the recital on Friday will be $10 for ECU students, $25 general admission at the door and $20 when bought in advance. For more information and tickets go visit ECUArts at go.ecu.edu/Fletcher-Series or call 252-737-5444.