Our Founders

Julian Patrick

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Julian Patrick (26 October 1927 - 8 May 2009) was an American operatic baritone and voice teacher. Born in Mississippi, Patrick grew up in Birmingham, Alabama where he was a member of the Apollo Boys Choir. After graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, he began his professional career as a musical theatre performer in the 1950s, appearing in the original Broadway productions of The Golden Apple (1954), Bells Are Ringing (1956), Juno (1959), Once Upon a Mattress (1959), and Fiorello! (1959). He also studied singing privately in New York City with Cornelius L. Reid.

After the 1950s Patrick worked mainly as a performer in operas, making appearances at the Dallas Opera, the De Nederlandse Opera, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Houston Grand Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, the Opéra national du Rhin, the San Francisco Opera, the Vienna Volksoper, and the Welsh National Opera among other major opera houses. In 1968 he starred as Private Don Hanwell in the world premiere of Hugo Weisgall's Nine Rivers from Jordan at the New York City Opera.  He was particularly active with the Seattle Opera where he drew international raves for his Alberich, the central villain of Wagner’s Ring. He performed with Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre as Benjamin Franklin in 1776, Tony in The Most Happy Fella, and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd.

A much-revered teacher, Patrick taught for many years at the University of Washington where he was emeritus professor. He was a singer of tremendous versatility, a true man of the stage, who created many remarkable. Even late in life, this born performer loved the stage: He created the acting role of the tormented Gad Beck in the 2007 premiere of For a Look or a Touch with Seattle’s Music of Remembrance, and later recorded it on the Naxos label.

Julian Patrick died in his sleep of natural causes May 8 while on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 81.

Mr. Patrick had strong views on what made new music successful:

"If a composer writes something that is melodically and harmonically accessible and is dramatically compelling, it’s very likely  the critics won’t like it", Mr. Patrick told one interviewer. "They are somehow wedded to pieces that are outrageously difficult  to play and listen to because they think it is the ‘future’ of music. I think that the return to melody, however derivative it seems, is most welcome. You may say, ‘Oh, it sounds like Puccini.’ Well, thank God. That’s wonderful. I think that returning to singable lines and to pieces that are dramatically convincing is the right step. There are so many wonderful new pieces now. The greatest of them take compelling stories and set them to music that enhances them and connects to the audience."

Leslie McEwen

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Born into a musical family of six children in Sacramento, California, Leslie McEwen sang widely in opera productions during her studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, Southern Illinois University and the University of Washington, as well as at concerts around the United States and abroad. Leslie's father, Alfred, was an Air Force officer, and former opera singer who eventually settled the family in Maryland. One of her brothers, Mark McEwen, was a broadcaster and television host who helped head up CBS This Morning from 1987 to 2002.

Leslie lived in Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York City while pursuing her singing career, eventually settling in Seattle in 1992 to study for her doctorate at the University of Washington. Three years later she took a teaching post in American Samoa.  While chairing the music department of American Samoa Community College in Pago Pago, she sang at two consecutive Lake Chelan Bach Feste programs, finally moving to Wenatchee to start her own vocal studio at the behest of friends.

After settling in Wenatchee, Leslie taught in the Music Department at Wenatchee Valley College , and became a fixture at the Woods House Conservatory of Music , a teaching and performance facility which operated from 2001 to 2011. She was a frequent performer in Wenatchee Valley concerts and stage shows, with a zeal for organizing new concerts and music programs that were as formidable as her voice. She staged successful fundraising performances for the Wenatchee Valley Symphony , and directed small opera performances under her One Act Wonder Opera Company . In 2004 she founded and directed the Confluence Octet , an eight-singer choral group that performed throughout North Central Washington and beyond for the next 10 years. In 2006, she collaborated with her voice teacher, mentor and friend, Julian Patrick, to create the Julian Patrick Summer Vocal Camp. 

Leslie McEwen made her most personal impact as a meticulous teacher of voice, coaching students of all ages and hosting them in season-ending recitals. Up to 60 students at a time were enrolled in her home-based studio.

On April 27, 2017, a light went out in the Wenatchee Valley; Leslie McEwen, the singer, educator, and concert producer who coached generations of Wenatchee’s vocal students, died under hospital care following complications form surgery. At the close of a concert organized by her colleagues, friends and students to celebrate her life, Leslie was posthumously awarded the Stanley Civic Center Life Time Achievement Award.  

"In many ways, I think she was a producer" , said fellow musician Dr. Mike Hibbett, "She liked to not always be in the spotlight, but to prepare others to be in the spotlight. I think that’s a good way of describing her passion. She would be excited to see others succeed."