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Opera And Art

Oldham County's Pate finds way
to support his love for performing

By Dianne Stoess
Contributing Writer


WESTPORT, Ky. (March 2000) -- Almost everyone has a hobby of one kind or another, but David Pate has a most unusual one.

Janet and David Pate

Photo by Dianne Stoess

Janet Pate says she enjoys following
her husband, David, around the country
to watch his opera performances.

The Westport, Ky., resident has a passion for the arts, opera in particular, and performs frequently with the Kentucky Opera. He has performed in Nashville and Chattanooga in Tennessee, and in Kentucky.
Like most hobbyists, he would prefer making a living doing what he loves. But Pate’s practical side led him to realize early on that he had to make a living, so he developed his own business installing bank security systems and decorating their interiors. (His Buckner-based company designed the interior of the Bank of Oldham County and installed the equipment).
“I had a background (in music) when I was growing up, (was) involved with arts and the opera and went to concerts as a child, so I always kept that interest,” Pate said. “But when I was old enough to realize I had to make a living, I got involved with the business side of things.”
Pate went on to college after high school and was a voice major at Bellarmine College for 2 _ years. His talent won him a summer scholarship to New York’s Juilliard College, the prestigious school for performing arts education in music, dance, and drama. But for financial reasons he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity.
Shortly after, his practical side took over and he decided to switch his focus to business. But he continued to sing in operas whenever he could.
He has performed in 72 operas over a span of 25 years. He said he has participated mostly in the chorus but has also done character parts.
“I do more comedic type things, usually a funny character of some type. I’ve played a lot of housemen (male servants), drunk bartenders and different, unique types of characters.” Next on his agenda is a possible performance in Chattanooga next year.
His wife, Janet, and their three sons, David, Brian and Matthew, have generally attended his performances but stayed home during rehearsals.
“When he does operas out of state, it involves maybe two or three weeks of rehearsals. When he goes out of town for rehearsals, I don’t go with him,” Janet Pate says. “When they do the actual performance, I usually go.”
Now that the two oldest boys are grown, they usually don’t go anymore because they have too many things going on in their lives.
David is married and works for his father’s company. Brian is a full-time student at Bellarmine College. Matthew, the youngest, still attends his father’s performances.
Not only does Pate enjoy participating in the arts, he takes an active role in making them available to Oldham County residents. A few of his past projects include an “Opera on the Square” performance in La Grange, a chamber music concert and a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Bach Society at Crestwood United Methodist Church.
Pate has had some surprising moments, too, as a result of his strong commitment to the arts.
At its annual meeting held on Jan. 23 this year, the Oldham County Arts Association, which Pate founded, presented him with an award for his role in its establishment and his ongoing dedication to the arts. He was named as an honorary director and received a standing ovation from the members. Pate said he was completely unaware that he was to receive the award.
Lydia Davis of the Kentucky Opera said she has known Pate for a long time.
“It was a dream of his as a small child to be involved with the arts,” she said. “He’s very vivacious. He has a lot of stage presence, and he loves the opera dearly.”
Pate admits that his love for music and opera has been with him for a long time and goes back to his childhood. He received most of his musical experience through the school system. He went to young people’s concerts while in junior high school, and when he was in high school, he sang in concerts and acted in plays. He was also in All-State Chorus.
Occasionally, he went on field trips, and that was when he received his “first taste” of opera and classical music. He was only 17 when he sang in his first Kentucky Opera. He also sang with Louisville Bach Society for several years.
Pate says he is probably the biggest fan of opera because he gets to express his art on stage and be a part of it. That is a “real treat” for him, he says.
His love for performing has been his passion through the years, and although he and his wife felt he had “no future in a musical career,” he has kept it as a hobby and would like to spend more time on his artistic pursuits when he retires from the business world.
Janet says she knows how precious her husband’s “hobby” is to him.
“Some people play golf or basketball,” she says. “They have different hobbies, and his has been beneficial because it’s something that he has perfected over the years. But mostly it’s just for sheer enjoyment because he just loves it.”

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