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Ernst, Lucas (13th October 1951-27th September 1991)

Bass-baritone, radio personality and linguist born Kim Eugene Kostenbader in Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania, who used Lucas Ernst as his professional name.   He graduated from the Motavian College in 1973 before moving onto the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied until 1976.  He then took further studies in Austria and France for a year under a Fulbright Scholarship.  From 1982 he studied for two years at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

In 1976 he became an Assistant Music Librarian and an Artist-in-Residence at the Marlboro Music Festival and repeated the same two years later.  In 1978 he took on the position of Director of Music and Instructor of voice, diction and repertoire and Bethlehem’s Moravian College and in 1981 started teaching voice at Lehigh University.

From the 1980s, he was a very busy freelance chorister and soloist on the Philadelphia opera stage, performing in a variety of roles, including Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Golaud in Pelleas et Melisande, Stuart Offenbach in R.S.V.P., La Roche in Capriccio, and Ser Amantio di Nicolao in Gianni Schicchi.   He was also a producer and host of programs that aired daily on WHYY-91FM in Philadelphia from 1984.  At the same time he was making industrial videos for the CIGNA Corp. followed by tracks in German for the Westinghouse Corp. in 1985.

On 13th November 1987, he was a featured soloist with the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” at Broughal Auditorium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and appeared on The Philadelphia Singers’ Christmas album, Gloria!  Gloria!

In 1990 he became an announcer at WETA-FM in Washington D.C. and the following year was a translator of musical works to be performed at the 1992 at the Moravian Music Festival.

He was on the board of directors of the Opera Club of Philadelphia and the Curtis Institute of Music’s Alumni Association.

He died in August 1991 at Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, Virginia, when he was 39 years old.

The Philadelphia Singers recordings

Adeste Fidelis (Frederick Oakeley/John Francis Wade)
RCA 6559-RC-2 (Gloria!  Gloria!)
Soprano – Benita Valente
Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Conductor – Michael Korn

Here’s “O Holy Night” from the album Gloria! Gloria!….


  5. Liner notes:  Gloria!  Gloria!