Donald Simonson


Donald Simonson

Professor of Music

Voice Division Chair



Donald Simonson is Professor of Voice at Iowa State University where he chairs the Voice Division and teaches voice, voice pedagogy, vocal literature, and conducts musical theater. Simonson is a graduate of Northwestern University and undertook advanced study at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Academy of Music) in Vienna, Austria. His principal teachers include Marion Hall, Otto Edelmann, Norman Gulbrandsen, and Berton Coffin. He regularly performs leading roles and appears as a soloist with opera companies, symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Europe, America, Australia and the Far East, including concert performances with ensembles such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Wiener Philharmoniker Solisten, the Austrian National Radio Symphony, and the Clemencic Consort. His performances have been featured on Austrian, German, and Italian national radio and television broadcasts and on NPR. Recent performances include a recital tour of the Republic of China, where he also performed the title role in Mozart’s “La clemenza di Tito,” a concert tour of Austria and the Czech Republic, and his first concert tour of South Africa with Simon Estes, Mary Creswell and The Ames Quartet. He has recorded for the Musical Heritage, Harmonia Mundi, Musique D'or, and CBS/Sony Classical labels. In addition, Simonson maintains an active research laboratory at ISU specializing in vocal acoustics. The results of his investigations have been presented at national and international conferences and published in leading scientific journals.

Simonson's students have gone on to win Fulbright Scholarships and Rotary Fellowships to Germany, Sweden and Italy and have been finalists and winners of competitions such as the Union League, MacAllister, NATS, and MET auditions. His students may be heard in roles with opera companies both here and abroad, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric, Houston Grand, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and Leipzig to name a few. His students may also be heard on Broadway, and in national touring productions of musical theater. Numerous former students hold faculty positions in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. In 2006 Simonson was named a Master Teacher for the NATS Summer Intern Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. He reprised his role as a Master Teacher in 2012 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Recently, Simonson completed his two-year term (2010-2012) as President of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). An active member of NATS for over 25 years, Simonson served the organization in a variety of capacities. He served two terms as the Iowa District Governor, and two terms as Governor of the Central Region and member of the National Board of Directors. In 1998 Simonson conceived and coordinated the first ever “Call for Papers” for a NATS National Conference. In 2006 he was elected the Vice President for NATSAA. Currently, he holds the position of Past President of NATS and coordinator of the Summer Intern Program. He also serves as a reviewer for the “Call for Papers” for the International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT8) to be held in Brisbane, Australia in August 2013. In 2014 he will coordinate the second NATS National Music Theater Competition (NMTC) in Boston.