Ikpemesi Ogundare, ’20, Soars in Her Opera Pursuit

Prestigious program in Austria awaits this summer.

April 16, 2019

By Anne Noble

Sing with your whole heart.

That’s the goal of Ikpemesi Ogundare, ’20. And she does just that.

For those who know Pem, the fact that she switched the path of her education this year from a double major of pre-med and music performance to just music performance is not surprising.

“It was a really big step for me. I was a bit scared,” Ogundare said. “But the music was pulling too hard. Music is my solace. I really love it—I can’t go a day without singing or listening. Every genre has something to offer me.”

Ogundare reached out to Maureen Balke, professor of voice and Music Department chair, “to help me to become a better singer,” and also told her parents.

Balke created an individually tailored technique regimen for her, as well as repertoire goals she needed to obtain to pass the Sophomore Jury for a Vocal Performance B.A. in Music.

She passed.

Recently her voice resonated through Goodrich Chapel during her junior recital, and this summer it will resonate in Europe—in particular, Austria. Ogundare was accepted to the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies, or AIMS Graz, located in Graz, Austria. It is a world-renowned program designed to prepare individuals for a career as a music professional.

In Ogundare’s case, that means opera. She looks at it as a labor of love.

“I love opera and would like to have a career in it,” she said, adding that being a solo artist is her goal.

During her audition in Kalamazoo for the program, Ogundare sang her first piece and halfway through the first verse of her second, she was told “OK, thank you,” by the judges.

The judges then asked her questions and she explained her love of opera and wish for a solo career. After answering all of their questions, the judges asked if she had any for them.

Her reply, “Am I accepted?” The answer immediately was yes.

“I was so blown away,” she exclaimed.

Added Balke: “We were all ecstatic, due to the prestige of this venerable program, and its success in preparing many young singers for professional careers. Pem will be able to concentrate solely on her vocal training and performing with no outside distractions. She’ll be in Austria, absorbing the influences of the country that produced Mozart.”

So there’s science, music…and a third aspect that, at the very least, solidifies Ogundare as a Renaissance Woman. Sports.

Ogundare was involved in track and field during her first two years at Albion, as well as her years in high school in her hometown of Westerville, Ohio. In particular, she was in throwing events such as shot put.

“I really like being active. I like being strong,” she said.

While Ogundare is looking forward to showing her musical strength this summer in Austria, there is one more hurdle. Expenses. She has received a scholarship to secure her spot, but it won’t cover all expenses—including airfare, tuition and more.

Those interested in donating toward this opportunity can go to a GoFundMe account that has been set up for this purpose.