Philip Frohnmayer, the Mary Freeman Wisdom Distinguished Professor of Opera and chair of vocal studies at Loyola University New Orleans, was recently awarded the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance. He graduated with a Master of Music from the university in 1972.
Frohnmayer, who joined Loyola’s faculty in 1982, was recognized for his illustrious career and ongoing contributions to the field of music. In 1976, he won top prize in the Munich International Competition and began his European career singing leading roles in operas in Germany, Luxembourg and Holland. He has performed throughout the United States, as well as numerous locations in Europe and Latin America.
“I think I always knew that my career as a singer would not be a conventional one, Frohnmayer said. “I felt a great affinity for teaching from the very start, but I also wanted to develop my voice as much as possible and become the best performer I could be.”
Locally, Frohnmayer has been a regular soloist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and has sung major roles in opera and oratorio under numerous esteemed conductors, including productions with the New Orleans Opera Association and the Mississippi Opera. His recordings appear on the CBS, Allegro, Albany and Centaur labels.
In 1996, Frohnmayer was given Loyola's Dux Academicus Award, and in 2008 he and his wife, Ellen, received the Gambit Lifetime Achievement Award in music. Additional awards and honors include the Vanguard Award for a commitment to teaching in the African American community of New Orleans and a lifetime achievement award from the William E. Schmidt Foundation.
In addition to teaching at Loyola, he has also served on the voice faculties of Humboldt State University and the University of Utah. Many of his students have won top competition honors and gone on to sing leading roles for professional companies and festivals.
“When I work with students, I try to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses. Whatever is strong must be recognized and made stronger,” Frohnmayer said in his acceptance speech. “Your weaknesses you work on, so that your percentages come up in every area. That someone else sings or plays well does not negate your talent; but you need to know what you can do and be prepared to demonstrate it, sometimes under very stressful conditions.”
Frohnmayer, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard College and engaged in postgraduate study at the Stuttgart Hochschule für Musik, has completed a book on singing as a lifetime discipline.