Natchez favorite playing fundraiser

Published 12:07 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

Will Earl Spanheimer will be performing “Love Is in the Air, A Valentine Concert” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center in Alexandria, La., in a special fundraising program sponsored by The Arc Rapides — John Askew Center, which provides training and enrichment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He will be accompanied by Donna Schaffer of Natchez, who is the choral music director for Alcorn State University, and the Red River Jazz will play Big Band era music for dancing. Tickets for the performance are $25 for a couple or $15 for an individual and can be obtained through or by calling 318-445-7705.

Spanheimer, a bass baritone, has performed in Natchez for the Natchez Festival of Music during a six-year period between 2007 and 2012 and has been one of the most beloved of our many talented artists.

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He will be remembered and appreciated for his many spectacular performances, including the lead performer as El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha,  Pistol in Falstaff, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutti, A Cabaret, My Fair Lady, Jud in Oklahoma!, the soloist in two Musical Tours of Homes, An Evening with Cole Porter, A Valentine special: “Love…and All that Jazz,” and a Sacred Music Concert at First Baptist Church; and for his generous sharing of his talent in singing in numerous private, church and civic programs; individual events; many fundraisers for the Festival; and even in the Children’s Opera, The Three Little Pigs.

As the late Buzz Harper constantly said, “Will Earl is the nicest person. Will Earl has the most beautiful voice.” No other artist has given so much to Natchez and to supporting and enriching the Natchez Festival of Music.

In the past year, Will Earl’s talents have taken him to a number of venues throughout the Untied States, to Panama to sing as Colline in La Bohème, and to Hungary and the Ukraine, where he has sung the title role of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

He is an alumnus of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Opera Theatre Lucca, Italy, and of the San Diego Opera Young Artists Ensemble, where The San Diego Tribune lauded his “rich, dark baritone; a promising young voice.”

Recently, he has performed with the Miami Bach Society in Saul and Miami Civic Chorale in Mozart’s Requiem and has been heard with the major opera companies of Miami, Seattle, St. Petersburg, Richmond and Phoenix.

He has been highly praised for his performances with the San Diego Opera with such opera giants as Ferruccio Furlanetto, Denyce Graves and Eduardo Chama under the baton of Karen Keltner and will be performing there again in April in Massanet’s Don Quixotte.

He has a wide concert repertoire, which includes opera, Broadway and sacred music; and he has sung several world premieres of upcoming works, ranging from those of Anthony Davis to Phillip Glass.

His press reviews are wonderful. The Arizona Republic stated, “Mr. Spanheimer showed nuance and his bass voice filled the theater with warmth and power.”  San Diego stated, “… impressive and towering bass-baritone Will Earl Spanheimer was moving.” The Natchez Democrat stated, “Only the blazing Mississippi River sunset outside the windows dared to compete with the  booming baritone of Mr. Spanheimer.”

It is a privilege for Will Earl to sing again in our area, and he is looking forward to seeing many of his friends from the Miss-Lou.


Rena Jean Schmieg is a resident of Natchez.