It’s no accident that tenor Andy Lunsford will be performing at Carnegie this weekend

Most performers have a “bucket list” of performance venues, and Andrew “Andy” Lunsford is no different. Now, thanks to a concert this weekend in New York City, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music opera student can cross Carnegie Hall off his list.

Known to many as the “Accidental Tenor” for his nontraditional path to opera performance, Lunsford turned to a life of music following personal bankruptcy. He sought solace from the shuttering of his business and the loss of his home and lifestyle by singing along to an opera CD he’d purchased on a whim several years ago at Target.

Andy Lunsford

Jacobs School of Music student Andy Lunsford will sing at Carnegie Hall this weekend.

Turned out Lunsford is a tenor who can sing in three octaves without falsetto, a big voice that’s uncommon even in the opera world. Through a series of opportunities, he began studying at IU under soprano Carol Vaness, and now only needs to perform a final recital before embarking on a professional career on the stage.

But first, Carnegie Hall.

Lunsford said the opportunity arose while he was singing at a recent gala for Colorado State University, where he spent a semester exploring his talent before coming to IU. A representative of the Choirs of America heard him and extended an invitation to sing with the group in New York City.

“As a performer, I have certain objectives just like everybody else,” Lunsford said. “And singing at Carnegie Hall is one of my ultimate goals. The Kennedy Center was also on my list, and IU gave me the opportunity to perform there, which was a huge moment for me. It’s just unbelievable.”

Lunsford will sing a duet from Puccini’s “La Boheme” with former Metropolitan opera principal soprano Sarah Reese and arias from “Tosca” and “L’arlesiana.” His performance is part of “A Celebration of Song,” presented at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 13, by Choirs of America in Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium.

Will Lunsford indulge in any rituals before stepping onto the big stage? There’s the usual: plenty of rest, no dairy to gunk up his instrument. But he also often listens to “regular” music in his dressing room, which he said “helps me take myself out of my head a little bit.” His acceleration into the world of opera happened so fast that he’s still working to integrate his “pre-opera” personality with his “post-opera” self.

Despite a complete lifestyle transformation, he hasn’t lost his entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to a busy performance schedule and classes, Lunsford and a business partner recently developed a scheduling program for arts organizations. While IU Opera has been using it for about a year, they just signed Glimmerglass Opera. The program will launch publicly at the Opera America Conference in May.

What’s next for Lunsford? Apparently, it’s not easy to be a 33-year-old opera star. His voice is mature, meaning he can pull off the weightier roles demanded by his profession. But at the same time, he doesn’t have as much performance credit under his belt as other singers at his age.

But that’s a see-saw he’s willing to balance on for a chance to sing professionally. He credits the Jacobs School with being willing to take a chance on him and his voice, and he says he’s eager to begin his professional career.

“IU and this school have meant so much to me,” Lunsford said. “They’ve really nurtured my talent, have given me opportunities and they’re truly behind me. I went to school on a leap of faith, and they’ve stuck with me. And now here I am, singing at Carnegie Hall.”

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