Ken Carter, our conductor and a professional bass, began his diverse musical career at the age of eighteen with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as bass soloist in Beethoven's Christ on the Mount of Olives.
After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) in choral conducting, he became soloist for the United States Air Force Band, Symphony and Singing Sergeants. His first official job was in the White House singing for President and Mrs. Kennedy. He also sang for five other presidents. During this period he studied across from Carnegie Hall in New York with Samuel Margolis and in Washington DC with Todd Duncan, Gershwin's original "Porgy." He also premiered the Three Michuda Songs of Serge Degastyne in Carnegie Hall.
A dual career emerged after the Air Force years in which he used his basso-cantante skills professionally and secularly in more than 60 leading operatic roles with some of America's best known singers and opera companies including Connecticut Opera, New Orleans Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera Memphis and others.
Notably, he was Ramfis and Timur respectively in the largest indoor performances of Verdi's Aida and Puccini's Turandot in the history of the western hemisphere. He also played leading musical theatre roles as Emil de Becque in South Pacific; Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun, The Red Shadow in The Desert Song and others at various regional theatres.
In his other "career" he concertized nationwide as the "Singing Sergeant" and ministered in mass evangelism in more than 30 countries with both Crusade Evangelism of Canada and the Billy Graham Association as soloist, choral director and emcee. Interestingly, he participated in some of the first ever multi-racial crusades in South Africa, led hymns while dogs searched for bombs under the ministry platform in Belfast, was the "Spanish" soloist in the Billy Graham Mexico City Crusade and sang with his battery driven tape recorder in a tiny crusade in Kathmandu although Christian ministry had been forbidden by the Nepalese government.
Chorally, he was bass section leader with the Singing Sergeants and has been director of choirs at First Assembly of God and First Evangelical Church of Memphis; First Baptist Church, San Jose (The Church on the Hill), Saratoga Presbyterian Church, Saratoga; The Villages Chapel, and is currently Minister of Traditional Music at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City CA.
Ken taught private voice previously and brings that expertise to the position as director of the Voices.
Now, in addition to conducting the Village Voices he keeps a busy schedule with "Opus Four," an operatic group whose other members sing with the San Francisco Opera; "Tapestry," consisting of a world class pianist and world class violin and himself; and his three travel companies: International Journeys, Journeys In The Arts and International Christian Journeys. Until recently, he served on the Board of Christians In Theatre Arts and as Coordinator of Bay Area Minister of Music Fellowship.
Ken Carter, conductor
Emile De Beque, South Pacific
Conductor Ken Carter in the role of Emile DeBeque in Connectivut Opera production of South Pacific (1982). Nellie Forbush played by Susan Powell, Miss America 1981.