NFL Player Turned Renowned Opera Singer to Perform at MBU


If you think athletics and the arts just don’t mix, you have clearly not yet met Lawrence Harris.

At the age of 25, the then NFL lineman opted to pursue a growing interest in, of all things, opera.  Turns out, the six-foot-five inch former Houston Oiler’s musical bent matches his athletic prowess.

The award winning baritone opera vocalist is set to showcase his talent at Missouri Baptist University Jan. 16-18.  Harris, along with his wife, pianist Renee Guerrero, will be visiting lecturers for the Fine Arts division’s three-day masters’ class.

The two will perform at recitals Jan. 17 and 18.

Guerrero is an accomplished musician in her own right. She has appeared in numerous venues all over the country including two performances as collaborative pianist in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall sponsored by the Italian Academy Foundation.  She made her Lincoln Center debut with a December performance at Merkin Hall.

Events open to the public:

  • Jan. 17, 7:30PM — Recital featuring pianist Renee Guerrero, Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center
  • Jan. 18, 7:30PM — Recital featuring Lawrence Harris, Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center

Full biographies:

Lawrence Harris’ performances in opera houses around the world have earned him accolades for his rich baritone voice. He captured both first prize and the coveted Audience Favorite Award in the 2008 Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition. The New York Times critic Bernard Holland hailed Mr. Harris as a “major voice.” “Established overnight as an important new Verdi baritone”, Mr. Harris, whose career spans over 30 roles, is widely praised as “a baritone with incredible dramatic intensity and enormous versatility” in the leading roles of Scarpia in Tosca, Count di Luna in Il Trovatore, Germont in La Traviata, Tonio in I Pagliacci, Amonasro in Aida, Escamillo in Carmen, Marcello in La Boheme, the High Priest in Samson & Dalila, the title role in Macbeth, as well as the world and US premieres of several new operas by contemporary composers. Mr. Harris has performed the title role of Rigoletto to critical acclaim in U.S. regional companies as well as his Mexican debut at both the Teatro Pablo de Villa Vincencio in Culiacan and the Teatro Angela Peralta in Mazatlan.  His portrayal of Rigoletto in Connecticut Grand Opera’s 2005 production earned him an Opera 0nline nomination for that year’s Best Leading Male Performance.  Harris has performed for diplomats and heads of state from every continent including Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ambassador Fernando M. Valenzuela, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations, and the United Nations Women for Peace. The Italian Academy Foundation presented him in concerts at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s Merkin Recital Hall. Lawrence has performed as soloist with orchestras across the US.  Fall of 2011 marked his Italian recital debut to critical acclaim in venues in northern and southern Italy. Mr. Harris, of Choctaw ancestry, recently performed in concert in the PBS production, “Common Ground”, where he shared the stage with other Native Americans in a celebration of music and art of America’s indigenous People.

Renee Guerrero, pianist, received her Master’s Degree and Professional Studies’ Certificate in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Phillip Kawin at Manhattan School of Music.  Renee received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance with an emphasis on Piano Pedagogy from Texas State University.  Her piano studies in Texas were with Texas State University professor Timothy Woolsey and Austin-based teacher and composer Kathryn Mishell.   While a student at TSU, Renee performed Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto with the student orchestra as a concerto competition winner.  She made her New York City debut in 1990 as a soloist in the Yamaha Young Artists Showcase and since has appeared in numerous venues all over the country including two performances as collaborative pianist in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall sponsored by the Italian Academy Foundation.  She made her Lincoln Center debut with a December performance at Merkin Hall.  Renee has also served as rehearsal/concert accompanist and coach for various opera companies including Bronx Opera, New Rochelle Opera, VoiceExperience with Sherrill Milnes, the Altamura Arts Festival as well as accompanist for Manhattan School of Music’s ArtReach and Joan Dornemann’s Audition Techniques Classes. Renee is Music Director of Presbyterian Church in Leonia, New Jersey and is on the piano faculty at The Westchester Conservatory of Music in White Plains, New York.   She and her husband, Lawrence Harris, perform frequently in recital and will release their debut CD on the VAI label in 2013.  Renee is scheduled to perform newly discovered solo piano pieces of composer Kaye Swift in a world premiere performance to be announced in 2013. Renee, Lawrence and their two teenage children currently reside in Yonkers, New York.

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