Robert Clayton Samels, age 24, of Bloomington and Medina, Ohio, died Thursday evening (April 20, 2006) as the result of injuries received in the plane crash near the Monroe County Airport.
Born June 2, 1981, in Akron, Ohio, he was the son of Clayton Edward and Paula S. (Ignizio) Samels. Robert taught as an Associate Instructor in the IU Jacobs School of Music Theory Department with the same zeal he approached all his other professional activities. He was in charge of T231 and was loved and admired by his students. As a bass-baritone he had recently appeared as Mr. Gibbs in the world premiere of "Our Town" by Ned Rorem, as Marco in the collegiate premiere of William Bolcom's "A View from the Bridge," as well as Joseph and Herod in the collegiate premiere of "El Nino" by John Adams. In September 2005, he conducted the premiere of his own opera, "Pilatvs." As a member of the Wolf Trap Opera Company for 2006, he would have added three roles this summer, including Bartolo in "Le nozze di Figaro," Friar Laurence in "Romeo et Juliette," and Pluto in Telemann's "Orpheus." Other opera credits included the title roles of "Don Pasquale" and "Il Turco in Italia," as well as Leporello in "Don Giovanni," Falstaff in "Merry Wives of Windsor," and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In the summer of 2004, Samels performed Creon in the New York premiere of John Eaton's "Antigone." He also frequently performed in the oratorio repertoire. In the spring of 2005, he was selected as a semifinalist in the annual competition of the Oratorio Society of New York. He began his vocal studies with Alfred Anderson at the University of Akron and Andreas Poulimenos at Bowling Green State University. He was a doctoral student in choral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and had studied voice with Giorgio Tozzi and Costanza Cuccaro. Robert was an announcer as well as host and producer of "Cantabile" with public radio station WFIU. A soloist with Aguava New Music Studio, he recently performed a concert at the Library of Congress.
As a composer, he wrote over 35 works for a variety of mediums, including a full length oratorio ("Requiem") and incidental music for a play ("Emperor of the Moon"). For three years in a row, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony selected his orchestral works to appear on their "Young and Emerging Composers" series. His work "Juggernaut" was featured on the closing concert of the 23rd New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University. As a conductor, he led instrumental and choral ensembles in a wide variety of repertoire, including many of his own compositions. He studied conducting with Emily Freeman Brown, Jan Harrington, Vince Lee and John Poole.
He is survived by his parents of Medina, Ohio, and a dear friend, Annie Corrigan of Bloomington.