Ruth Dobson, soprano, received the Governor’s Arts Award from the state of Oregon in 2007 for her distinguished work in the field of opera and opera education. After retiring as Professor of Music at Portland State University, where for 28 years she taught voice, opera workshop, and song literature, she joined the voice faculty at the University of Oregon for 6 years. Ms. Dobson was the director of the PSU Opera Theater program, a program that she began in 1977. PSU Opera Theater's productions of Le Nozze di Figaro in 2000 and Don Giovanni in 2003 were awarded first place in the opera production competition of the National Opera Association. She was Co-Founder of the Astoria Music Festival and was for ten years Founder and Artistic Director of Portland SummerFest Opera in the Park. She was for ten years Artistic Director of Bel Canto Northwest Vocal Institute at PSU. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Montana, and a 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 currently is the Vice-President Elect for Conventions for the National Opera Association, serves as Vice-President of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi.
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, Portland Symphonic Choir, Abbey Bach Festival, Alaska's Choir of the North, Great Falls Symphony, Missoula Symphony, Peter Britt Festival, Astoria Music Festival, West Coast Chamber Orchestra, Walla Walla Symphony, Portland's Columbia Symphony, Third Angle New Music Ensemble, St. Mary's Sacred Music Recital Series, the Treasury of Song Series at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and the Festival of New Music at both the University of Oregon and in Seattle.
Her most recent performances include Poulenc's Gloria with Alaska's Choir of the North, a a guest recital at Idaho State University, Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen 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 performance highlights 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 has performed Micaela in Carmen, and with James DePriest and the Oregon Symphony, 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 guest clinician at universities and festivals across the US, including the Grandin Festival at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Oregon State University, Astoria Music Festival, Lewis & Clark College, the Cascade Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, George Fox University, the University of Montana, Idaho State University, and University of Alaska/Fairbanks.
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.”