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Soprano Ruth Dobson joined the UO voice faculty in 2006. She recently retired after 28 years as professor of music and director of PSU Opera at Portland State University, where she also taught voice, vocal pedagogy, and song literature. Under her direction, PSU Opera productions of Le nozze di Figaro in 2000 and Don Giovanni in 2003 won first place in the National Opera Association competition. For ten years Dobson was a founder and artistic director of Bel Canto Northwest Vocal Institute at PSU.
Currently, she is a director of the Astoria Festival of Music and Portland SummerFest. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Opera Association, also serving as Governor of their Northwest Region. Her many current and former voice students are singing professionally throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Dobson has been a frequent soloist with most of the major performing arts organizations in the Northwest, including the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Abbey Bach Festival, Peter Britt Festival, Astoria Music Festival, and the Festival of New Music at both the University of Oregon and in Seattle. She received her master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she held a graduate fellowship as an opera coach/accompanist. She was recently invited to return to the University of Cincinnati to give master classes in vocal chamber music as part of their Grandin Festival.
Her most recent performances were with the Three Sopranos at the Astoria Music Festival and a recital of French song at the Portland Art Museum as part of their "Paris to Portland" exhibit. As soprano soloist, she sings two song cycles by Margaret Garwood on a nationally-released CD (Albany label). Other recent performances include Stravinsky's Les Noces with Portland Symphonic Choir, Bach's Cantata No. 49 with the Audubon Quartet, Joseph Schwanter's Sparrows with Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Messiaen's epic song cycles Harawi for the Seattle New Music Festival and the University of Oregon Music Today Festival, Messiaen's Poèmes pour Mi and Hugo Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch for the Treasury of Song Series at Trinity Cathedral, Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire for Virtuosi della Rosa, recitals in France, and the title role in the world premiere of Vincent McDermott's opera Mata Hari.
With the Peter Britt Festival she performed Micaela in Carmen, and with James DePriest and the Oregon Symphony she performed the the soprano solos in Mozart's Requiem and Vivaldi's Gloria. Also with the Oregon Symphony and conductor Niel Gittelman she was soprano soloist in Poulenc's Gloria. A frequent guest artist with the Portland Symphonic Choir, her performances have included Bach's St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, Mozart's Grand Mass in C Minor, Vaughan-Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, and Orff's Carmina Burana. She has been a frequent guest soloist with the St. Mary's Sacred Recital Series, Columbia Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Symphonic Choir, West Coast Chamber Orchestra, Peter Britt Festival, Abbey Bach Festival, Portland Opera, and with symphonies throughout the Northwest.
Dobson's performances have received high critical praise in The Oregonian and other publications. The Philadelphia Daily News praised her singing of Margaret Garwood's cycles Six Japanese Songs and The Cliff's Edge, saying the performance showed "real understanding." David Stabler of The Oregonian wrote of her performance of Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben, "exquisite detail and vocal nuance," and of her performance of Bach's Cantata No. 51, Jauchzet Gott, "Dobson sailed up and down the scale, radiating vocal pleasure." Her singing of Handel arias with the West Coast Chamber Orchestra was praised by the same critic as "splendid—a focused, emotional moment."