World-renown opera star and Iowa native Simon Estes will sing to a global audience Friday as part of the World Cup finals in South Africa. The music that will accompany Estes was all recorded at Iowa State University. Professor Mike Golemo, chair of the I.S.U. music department, arranged the orchestral accompaniment for the world premiere of the song, “Save the Children, Save Their Lives.”
The music and lyrics were written by Denise Rich specifically for Estes several years ago, Golemo says. “He’s had this on the back burner, I don’t think he’s ever used it, ever performed it, and when this opportunity arose, a light bulb went off and he said ‘I’ve got the perfect selection for this.'” Golemo, I.S.U.’s director of bands, says he routinely arranges music for university marching bands that perform before perhaps 70,000 people, but the World Cup from Johannesburg has an audience exponentially larger.
“If you took everybody who watches the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cups, all those types of playoffs and put them together, it doesn’t even come close to how many people watch the World Cup,” Golemo says. “It’s such a global audience, it’s just mind boggling.”
The last World Cup finals, held in Germany in 2006, had a worldwide TV audience of 715-million. Estes’ song was recorded on the Ames campus for the concert by a small orchestra comprised of three I.S.U. faculty members and four student music majors. Several of them played multiple instruments, including saxophone and piano, while a violinist recorded one part 20 times to make it sound like a full string section by layering tracks.
“We actually made two versions, one with his voice on it, too, in case his voice went out or something like that, then he could lip-synch it as well, but he’s planning on singing it live,” Golemo says. “The children’s voices that are on the recording, we had our recording engineer travel to Cape Town, South Africa, to record the children’s choir from his school.”
Estes, a native of Centerville, established the Simon Estes Music School in 1997 for impoverished students in Cape Town. It has grown from 60 students to an institution now serving some 300 learners in grades 8 through 12. The World Cup’s Grand Finale Concert will support the international campaign “United Against Malaria,” an effort to fight the disease. The song, “Save the Children, Save Their Lives,” will be included on a new CD that will go on sale when Estes returns to Iowa on July 17.