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UPDATED: A previous version stated Wes still resided in Fort Washakie. He now lives in Lander. He also sang “Der Doppelgänger” by Franz Schubert instead of “Di due figli vivea” – II Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi.

Last week, Arts in Action organized a performance of Opera Wyoming’s Winter Tour at Central Wyoming College (CWC). The production titled “Sing to Love” consisted of five Opera Wyoming singers, and special guest Wes Wesaw from Fort Washakie.

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Wes currently sings in the CWC Choir, and connected with Opera Wyoming through their Artist Director Emily Quintana whose father works with Wes. Emily’s father shared a video of Wes performing a vocal solo at the Fall Semester Showcase at CWC, and she asked if he would perform with them in Riverton. “It was very unexpected but I was excited to sing again so I agreed.”

Wes sang, “Der Doppelgänger” by Franz Schubert, during the performance last week (video below). “I had a wonderful time and it was so amazing to see them perform,” Wes said. “They are all so incredibly talented!”

Wes has been involved in music since the young age of four. “I’ve been singing opera for over ten years now,” Wes shared. “It’s probably been about 14 almost 15 years to some extent now.”

His musical beginnings stemmed from playing piano at a young age. “My dad started teaching me when I was four and a friend of my parents recommended more formal piano lessons when he overheard me humming the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” Wes said.

Following years of formal piano lessons with both Pat Focht and later Luanne Bakke, Wes began to focus on voice. “I had also sung with my sister, Delmona Benally and her daughters when they would sing in some of the churches or at the Winter Fair.”

While studying Computer Technology at CWC, Wes started taking music classes and private lessons with Sharon Dalton and Adam Kluck. Wes shifted his focus from college to support his family, he noted.

“I occasionally post videos of myself singing on Facebook but my wife says not nearly enough,” Wes said. He became involved with the CWC Choir in 2017 when a work colleague of his mentioned she sang in the Choir. “We have a concert on April 21 so come check that out!”

Wes shares his favorite pieces of opera to sing:

My favorite pieces to sing are slower ones. They usually require more breath control but they allow for more expression. The faster ones are fun as well although with some of them I am almost needing an oxygen tank at the end haha. As for one specific piece to sing, I don’t know if I really have a favorite. It’s similar to my favorite genre of music. I listen to so many different kinds of music that I don’t really have a favorite anymore. I do like singing in German which is difficult as it’s a very guttural language, especially with the “ch” sounds. Italian is also a favorite to sing in. I haven’t done much in French but it’s very pretty and can provide a challenge particularly with the way “n” is pronounced in French. There are pieces that will get stuck in my head on occasion and they play over and play over again until something different comes along.

He also encourages folks to support local music. “Not just the people in coffee shops and the bars but also the college musicians, singers, ensembles, etc.. There are some very talented people not just at CWC but across Fremont County and I know they would greatly appreciate the support! I believe that this type of music, meaning classical music, is in a bit of a decline but I’m trying to do what I can to change that no matter how insignificant it may be.”

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