It’s not every day that you hear one of the world’s great opera stars sing a few notes up close and personal — like 2 feet away.
I was fortunate to have that experience on a recent morning at the new, $45 million East Studio Building on the Indiana University campus.
Tim Noble and I are sitting at his desk, essentially eyeball to eyeball in his acoustically flawless studio, as he explains the basics of teaching voice, when he illustrates a point by singing a few notes.
Never mind that Noble will be 69 in February, his voice is still rich and full.
“I’m fine vocally,” he says when asked about his pipes. “As good as can be expected. I’m not afraid to perform. I know my limitations.”
Having heard him sing “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” in April at an IU concert of Cole Porter music, I can attest to his voice being as great as expected.
But his main mission in life these days is teaching, and it’s clear after an hour-long conversation that working with students gives him tremendous joy.
He’s now in his 15th year at IU, holding forth as a Distinguished Professor, a title he received at the annual Founders Day ceremony Feb. 26, 2004. The ceremony recognizes faculty members and students for outstanding teaching, research or service to the university.
“When I got it,” he says of the title, “I remember thinking, What I am doing here? There was a biology professor seated on my left side and a medical doctor on my right side.”
He was there — deservedly — because, as Noble says, “… my body of work speaks for itself.” But he doesn’t put a lot of stock in getting the title, he adds.
“It’s a great honor, because the music students sponsored me,” he says. “Normally, the award comes from the administration. I got great faculty support from people like David Baker [the noted jazz performer and educator who’s also a Distinguished Professor].”