Oliver Worthington’s passion for vocal music makes him an ardent and active performer, teacher, student, and promoter of the art form. Since he began teaching at Texas State University in 2011, he has focused on private voice instruction, but he has also previously taught Vocal Pedagogy, Opera History, Diction, and Song Repertoire. Prior to Texas State he taught at Southwestern University where he worked closely with both the opera and music theater programs. Dr. Worthington’s skill as a pedagogue and clinician is well-respected and he is frequently engaged as a master teacher at other schools throughout the United States. His students have won numerous awards on and off campus as well as large scholarships and stipends for graduate study at prestigious schools like The Manhattan School of Music, Academy of Vocal Arts, George Mason University, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Columbia University, Florida State University, and the University of Cincinnati; and they have participated in young artist programs such as the Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera, the California Institute of the Arts, Mountainview Academy of Theater Arts, NYU Tisch School for the Arts, and the National Theatre Institute. His students have performed on Broadway, in national tours, and in regional opera and theater venues, including: Mamma Mia!, Sesame Street Live, Manhattan Theatre Club, Signature Theatre Company, Hangar Theater Company, Sierra Repertory Theater, Pantochino Productions, Theater Under the Stars, Madagascar Live!, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Acting Company, New York Shakespeare Exchange, Amore Opera, DiCapo Opera, Berenstein Bears LIVE, The Arkansas Repertory Theater, The Playwrights' Center, 7th House Theater, and the New York Musical Festival. Dr. Worthington is a demanding teacher who works as hard as his students to help them realize their potential and create pathways to reach their goals.
Dr. Worthington studied singing at Shorter College with John Ramsaur and completed his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance cum laude at Converse College where he studied with Jane Rolandi. He obtained his Master of Music degree in Voice Performance with Academic Honors and Distinction in Performance at the New England Conservatory with the famed voice teacher Ed Zambara. He completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation, An Analysis and Investigation of Coplas by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, examines the vocal works of the Italian-American composer and uses theoretical and performance analysis of this song cycle as a basis for promoting Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s songs into the standard 20th century repertoire. He continues to study and expand his sizable knowledge of repertoire by attending conferences and performances and through his membership in organizations such as Texas Music Educators Association and National Association of Teachers of Singing.
A versatile and active performer, Dr. Worthington has an extensive résumé of opera, music theater, and soloist engagements with symphonies and choral societies. Although he has performed internationally and nationally from Alaska to Boston, his recent engagements in Texas include performances with Austin Lyric, San Antonio Opera, the Austin Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, and the Round Top Festival. Dr. Worthington is a board member and regularly engaged artist with Lone Star Lyric in Houston, an organization devoted to the presentation of chamber opera, which regularly commissions new works. His performance repertoire includes such roles as Eisenstein and Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus, Lust in The Mask of the Red Death (premiere), Man in The Women (Pasatieri), The Mayor in Dr. Miracle, Bruschino in Signor Bruschino, Tom in The Old Maid and the Thief, Count Gil in Il Segreto di Susanna, Dr. Gregg in Gallantry (Moore), Oscar Jaffe in On the 20th Century, Cinderella’s Father in What Your Parents Don't Want You to Know (premiere), Giuseppe in La Traviata, First Prisoner in Fidelio, Little Bat in Susannah, and Monastatos and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. While he is a seasoned opera performer, his first love is art song and the recital stage. His recital performances have been well-received and praised at venues throughout the United States, including his regular performances on his home stage at Texas State. In 2015 he completed a successful concert tour through West Virginia performing a program of Late Romantic songs. He will reprise this program on a tour of North Carolina and South Carolina in 2017 with pianist Dr. Johan Botes.
In addition to singing and teaching, Dr. Worthington works regularly as a music director, stage director, and conductor. The National Opera Association recognized Dr. Worthington for conducting and his colleague Dr. Sam Mungo for directing in awarding the Texas State University Opera Theatre “Best Opera Production of 2012” for a production of Ibert’s comic opera Angelique. He has worked as music director for music theater companies and schools including Unity Theater, Austin Playhouse, Southwestern University, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. This work enables him to engage Texas State student musicians to play in the pit orchestras and gain valuable experience and resume credentials.
Dr. Worthington is also an active promoter of the vocal arts. He currently serves as Vice-President of the South Texas Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and organizes the student auditions for its singers from the region. He also serves as Vice-President of the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the musical arts through philanthropic grants, scholarships, and an annual national competition for opera singers between the ages of 25 and 35. Dr. Worthington is a regular judge of the semi-final round of competition and heads the Foundation’s artistic committee. Passionate about outreach, Dr. Worthington also works with local students at the high school level, judges for the University Interscholastic League, and attends many local concerts, recitals, and operas to identify and support young artists.
From the standpoint of teaching philosophy, Dr. Worthington believes that we each have a single voice and that classical singing techniques, including breath control and registration, help a student use his or her voice in a healthy manner that can be adapted to different musical genres. He has taught country western singers, Broadway singers, and opera singers and the basic approach is the same: learn what it feels like when the sound is well produced and work toward consistent replication of that sensation to remove pain and discomfort, regardless of the genre. He works closely with students at their individual level and customizes the instruction to guide them to a higher level of competence. Through his own vocal journey, he has studied and performed as both a tenor and a baritone, which gives him a unique insight into training male singers (though he has had equally great success with female singers!). All of his students also benefit from the diversity of his performing career and his 25 years of collegiate teaching experience. He challenges students to become better musicians while becoming better singers and encourages his students to exceed expectations rather than simply meet “minimum requirements” in order to succeed.