New TSU, Nashville Opera Partnership to Expose TSU Music Students to Real-World Musicians and Artists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University music majors with dreams of performing with some of the best entertainers in the world, may actually be a step closer to making that a reality thanks to a new partnership between the university and the Nashville Opera.

The joint venture, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, will launch a digital masterclass series in performance, music industry and arts management. 

Led by the Nashville Opera, working professionals will present masterclasses that bring real-world musical artists to TSU students. The university will also lead in coordinating with other historically black colleges and universities to participate in the virtual educational experience.

Isaiah Batey

Isaiah Batey, a senior vocal music major and opera singer, is excited about learning from “the best in the business.”

“This is just the kind of opportunity I am always looking for,” says Batey, a Nashville native who wants to be a professional singer “traveling around the world and sharing my talent.” Inspired by opera singers like Luciano Pavarotti, Renee Fleming and Jessye Norman, Batey says the new partnership will give TSU students like him the opportunity to learn from professionals who are actually in the music industry.

“To have these people work with us college students who are trying to get to where they are professionally, technically and vocally, is just so fulfilling,” says Batey, a graduate of the Nashville School of Arts, who currently sings with the Concert Chorale of Nashville and the William Crimm Singers, a group organized by TSU music instructor William G. Crimm.

Dr. Robert L. Elliott, professor and chair of the TSU Department of Music, says the new joint venture is a continuation of the long-standing partnership with the Nashville Opera that will better position TSU and other HBCU students for success in a digital, virtual world upon graduation.

“This partnership will provide new and different experiences for our students, and facilitate learning at multiple universities,” says Elliott.

An NEA release says the Nashville Opera will receive $25,000 to fund the digital masterclass series with TSU beginning September, and will be free to the public through livestreaming.

“We are deeply grateful for this support from the National Endowment for the Arts,” says John Hoomes, Nashville Opera CEO and artistic director. “It helps us do the important work of creating more equity in our art form.”

The Nashville Opera’s relationship with TSU spans more than a decade and includes such activities as presentations of masterclasses, free student tickets to performances, and Opera 101 lectures for the Department of Music.

For more information on the music program at TSU, visit

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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at