Eureka College Names Opera Singer and Alumna Director of Fine Arts Advancement and Recruitment
EUREKA — After serving 22 years in the San Francisco Opera Chorus, Mary Finch is coming home.
Finch, a Eureka native and a 1984 Eureka College alumnae, will be Eureka College’s first Director of Fine Arts Advancement and Recruitment, EC announced on Friday. She’s set to officially retire from the San Francisco Opera Chorus next December, but will begin a leave of absence in January 2020 and will officially join the Eureka staff full-time in July.
In this new position, Finch will support the strategic direction and growth of the fine arts program by leading fundraising efforts for fine arts and also working with faculty, coaches and staff to identify and recruit prospective college students, and develop, coordinate and provide education sessions for high schools and other secondary education audiences.
“We are thrilled to welcome the very talented Mary Finch home as a member of our team,” said Eureka College President Jamel Wright. “Our goal is to strengthen and expand our efforts in the arts, and over the past two years, we have been fortunate to hire notable, top-notch fine arts faculty. Adding someone of Mary’s caliber is yet another important step toward achieving our goal and providing an extraordinary experience for our students and the surrounding communities.”
Finch will also serve as the director of the Summer Arts Festival and advocate for the arts within the community.
“I am thrilled to be able to say that I will go from 'one dream job to another,’” Finch said. “So looking forward to being ‘HOME’ at Eureka College.
“I'm extremely excited to be able to create from the ground up a Summer Arts Festival using the beautiful Rinker Theatre. Not only will this festival provide educational opportunities for Eureka College students, but it will provide entertainment for the city of Eureka and surrounding communities. My first performances were as a seven-year-old in The Music Man in Rinker Theatre. I guess you could say that I am coming full circle.”
Events for the revived Summer Arts Festival are being planned to take place on campus with a target of summer 2021.
Finch, a soprano, has been a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus since 1998. She performed in over 90 productions and 1,100 performances, and appeared in five world premieres and over 30 original productions.
Her solo appearances with San Francisco Opera include: A woman Sweeney Todd, Mother Superior Showboat, Lady of the Court Lucrezia Borgia, 2nd Lay Sister & Sister Suor Angelica, Chang’s 1st wife in the world premiere of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Cretan Woman Idomeneo, Gabriella La Rondine, The First Bridesmaid Le Nozze di Figaro (2005 & 2011), The Shepherd Boy Tosca and Elise Louise.
Finch is also a founding member of the San Francisco Festival Chorale which performs exclusively at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and has a been a featured soloist in their Chamber Concert, and a soprano soloist with the San Francisco Boys Chorus in their performance of Charpentier’s Te Deum in San Francisco and at the Festival, among others.
In addition to her career as a performer, Finch has worked on the side as a freelance musician, notably recording in the studio at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, where she provided vocals for popular video games, film soundtracks and documentaries.
Before coming to San Francisco, Mary was a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s supplementary chorus, where she performed for two seasons.
A 1980 graduate of Eureka High School, Finch joined a long family legacy of Eureka College alumni when she received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance in 1984. She then went on to receive her master’s in vocal performance at Bradley University in 1994 and did additional study at Southern Methodist University and at the America Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.
Located in Eureka, Illinois, and chartered in 1855, Eureka College cultivates excellence in learning, service and leadership while providing students uniquely personalized and custom educational opportunities.
Originally founded by abolitionist members of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Eureka College holds the unique distinction of being the first college in Illinois and only the third in the nation to admit men and women on an equal basis. The College, which is located on nearly 70 wooded acres in central Illinois is the smallest of only 23 colleges and universities to ever award a bachelor’s degree to a future President of the United States.