The University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts was host to the melodious vocals of Grammy award-winning baritone Daniel Belcher on Monday night, March 7.

Belcher has an extensive career in the performing arts that includes an array of operas and roles in productions such as “Nixon in China” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Belcher took to the Music Hall stage, performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Claudio Monteverdi, George Butterworth, Francis Polulenc and Gerald Finzi. Belcher was accompanied on piano by Blake Riley, assistant professor in the Department of Music.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Riley said. “He’s a very warm person and a strong performer. It’s easy to work with someone who knows what they want, and can express that intuitively rather than verbally.”

Even with the grandeur of UWF’s music hall, Belcher was able to give a performance that still felt intimate to the audience.

“His voice is so full; it’s from the bottom and he has a very rich expression,” student Marty Glover said. “His emphasis is really good.”

Belcher took a break from his career in music to spend some time with up-and-coming music students at UWF. He was invited by the Department of Music to perform, and once the dates were established, the department went to work putting together the show.

“I’m thrilled that there’s great interest in the classical arts,” Belcher said. “It’s very important given our political climate. We’re reminded that there’s some beauty instead of just anger.”

Belcher has had the opportunity to perform all over the country in venues such as Carnegie Hall, but even on a college campus he had no problem sharing his gift on stage before a crowd of college students.

“I’m 45 and still feel like I’m playing in the land of make-believe. I get to sing this music and create characters,” Belcher said. “There is a lot of great talent out there, and unfortunately because of economic conditions, not everyone gets the chance to do what I do, so I feel that it’s my responsibility to use it.”

Following a performance medley of classical works, Belcher returned to the stage for an encore performance of “What a Wonderful World,” made famous by Louie Armstrong. He used the song as tribute to his mother-in-law, who died two years ago.

“Since it was two years ago to the month she died, I considered it to be a love song to her,” Belcher said. “Her death was so sudden, that it’s nice that a piece of music can remind me of her.”

For more about Belcher, including videos of some of his performances, visit his professional website. For the schedule of upcoming Department of Music concerts and performances, visit the department’s website.piano-768x590

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