Graham Sanders


Originally from Chichester, England, Graham and his wife Laurel moved to the States 11 years ago to raise their two daughters, Erika and Michele, and have settled permanently in State College.

Graham's career as a professional musician is impressive. He first began his musical studies as a countertenor, receiving diplomas from the London College of Music. In 1984, he married Laurel (an American) and moved to the United States. Three years later, he developed his tenor voice under the guidance of William McGraw at the University of Cincinnati, and subsequently studied with the internationally acclaimed heldentenor James King at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Graham's opera career was launched in 1990 when the Lauritz Melchior Heldentenor Society recognized his talent and awarded him a major scholarship to study in Munich the following year. He debuted with Oper der Stadt Bonn in the role of Roderigo in Verdi’s Otello in 1993, subsequently singing roles in Gianni Schicchi, Salome, Werther, La Fanciulla del West, and performing the leading roles of Laca in Janacek's Jenufa and Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio.

Graham was introduced to the Bremen (Germany) public when he was hired as a guest to sing Laca in their production of Jenufa during the 1993-94 season. In 1994, he joined the ensemble and remained until 2000. During his time in Bremen, he performed leading heldentenor roles in Schönberg’s Moses und Aron, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Verdi’s Macbeth, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Der Fliegende Holländer, and Beethoven’s Fidelio.

Since 2000, Graham’s career as a free-lance soloist has included the role of Laca in Janacek’s Jenufa at the Dresden Semper Opera and more recently at the Hungarian State Opera House; Polixenes in the German premiere of Boessmanns’ Wintermärchen in Braunschweig; Dimitri in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in Flensburg; Canio in I Pagliacci in Lübeck, Rotterdam, and Göteborg, Sweden; Otello in Verdi’s Otello in Flensburg and in the Budapest Spring Festival; Florestan (Fidelio) in Istanbul, Turkey and Salvador, Brazil; concerts of Janacek’s cantatas “Amarus” and “The Eternal Gospel” in Flensburg; and a reappearance as Laca in the Dresden Semper Oper’s production of Jenufa. His Wagnerian roles have included Siegmund in Wagner's Die Walküre in Kiel, Braunschweig, Graz, and Chicago Lyric Opera; and Siegfrieds in Wagner’s Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung for Scottish Opera.

In addition to opera, Graham has experience in choral conducting and particularly enjoys working with male choruses and ensembles. He has been the director of the St. Luke's Lutheran Church choir in Centre Hall for three years. Graham is a member of the PSU music faculty and also gives private voice instruction. He is excited about barbershop and is looking forward to working with us and helping to grow the chapter.

Graham's wife Laurel is an accomplished musician in her own right. She is an experienced choral director, arranger, and composer, and currently holds a position as Director of Music at Grace Lutheran Church in State College.