Dennis Bender


  • DMA University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music 2009
  • Certificate in Opera Performance, Boston University 1990
  • MM Manhattan School of Music 1986
  • BMus Wilfrid Laurier University 1979

At UK Since: 2003

Dennis Bender has sung in opera and concert in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has performed in productions with Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Company of Boston, the Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. He has sung at the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi  in Italy, and most recently in a series of concerts in the Netherlands.

He has appeared as Leporello in Don Giovanni, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Osiride in Rossini's Moise et Pharaon, Grenvil in La Traviata, Zuniga in Carmen, Arkel in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Frank in Die Fledermaus. He sang in the New York premiere of Shostakovich's The Nose. Other roles from contemporary operas include Reverend Hale in Robert Ward's The Crucible, Umpire Buttenheiser in William Schuman's The Mighty Casey and Grandpa Moss in Aaron Copland's The Tender Land.

In concert, he has performed as bass soloist at Great Woods, Tanglewood and the Blossom Music Festival. His oratorio performances include Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. Mr. Bender has been awarded the Alice Tully Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center and has been a winner of the Ezio Pinza Council for American Singers of Opera.   

Prior to joining the voice faculty at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Bender has been an affiliate faculty member of Harvard University, and has taught at the City Music Center of Duquesne University and Tanglewood Music Center. He is particularly interested in Russian art song, specializing in the solo vocal music of Dmitri Shostakovich, and is active as an adjudicator, clinician and recitalist.

His students have been winners of vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, the Classical Singer Vocal competition, NATS Chapter and Regional Auditions, and the Orpheus Vocal Competition. Former students are singing professionally and are teaching in the US; others have gone on to further their studies at such prestigious programs as the Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Recent performances include an all Shostakovich recital commemorating the centenary of the composer’s birth at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the role of Sarastro in The Magic Flute in a co-production of the Louisville Ballet and the Louisville Orchestra, and as bass soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Handel’s Messiah.

Dr. Bender is currently recording the final song cycles of Dmitri Shostakovich with pianist Kenneth Griffiths.

Associate Professor


214 Schmidt