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STREETSEEN  |  Kallen Esperian

Photo by Steve Roberts

Kallen Esperian: Life Over the Rainbow

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

While growing up in a small town in Illinois, Kallen Esperian knew she loved to sing, but never realized that her voice would take her places beyond her wildest imaginings. Esperian’s vocal talents surfaced early and she began purposefully honing her art when she majored in music voice performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

She concentrated on developing her singing voice as a lyric mezzo-soprano. She came to Memphis in 1984 and competed in the Metropolitan Opera competition, winning the MidSouth region. That led to a trip to New York City for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. There she met mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens who gave Esperian advice that was a catalyst for change — go home and become a soprano. 

Esperian returned to the University of Memphis and studied with Beverly Hay. However, Esperian still had a senior recital requirement to complete at the University of Illinois. While back on the Urbana-Champaign campus she reconnected with Professor John Wustman. He was also the accompanist for many famous singers and encouraged Esperian to enter the Opera Company of Philadelphia Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. As they say, the rest is history.

At the tender age of 24, Esperian was one of the top five winners in the Pavarotti competition. That experience catapulted her onto the international stage of opera.

“I continued to live in Memphis, but Pavarotti became my mentor,” recalled Esperian. “The prize for winning the competition was to star opposite him in La Boheme, in the role of Mimi. We first performed in Philadelphia, then Pavarotti decided to take the production on tour. We traveled to two cities in Italy, then on to Beijing, China.”

That tour also included a private audience in Vatican City to be blessed by The Pope.  

“We flew to Rome,” said Esperian. “But not being Catholic, I was not up on my Pope etiquette. When it came time for our audience with The Pope, I knelt before him, but rather than kissing his ring, I kissed my own hand. When we were back at our car, Pavarotti asked me what I thought of the experience and I said that it was incredible — very beautiful and emotional. But then after recanting the story to him, he replied, ’Some people say it is more sanitary that way.’”

Since then Esperian has traveled widely and has sung in every major opera house in the world. For personal reasons, in 2006, she took a break from travel and performing. It was when she connected with local musician Gary Beard in 2015, that Esperian felt compelled to return to the stage. 

“I had known Gary casually for years, through his music at Lindenwood,” said Esperian. “Something magical happened when we united for an impromptu performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Gary offered to work with me twice a week as I rebuilt my voice. He’s a fantastic musician and someone who speaks my language, musically.”

Esperian started performing locally, with Beard as her accompanist. She sang for a series of in-home salon concerts, as well as at local churches.

In a triumphant revival of her talent, Esperian and her dramatic voice are once again soaring to new heights. She is the 2018 Distinguished Artist of the State of Tennessee, as designated by the Governor of the State and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Also, the Tennessee State Museum has inducted her portrait by Diane Levy and gown by Dawn’s Couturiere, as well as one of her opera  scores, into its Permanent Collection. And for the 2018-2019 academic year, Esperian will serve as Artist in Residence at the University of the South, in Sewanee, teaching students and presenting concerts throughout her tenure. 


STREETSEEN  |  David Glover

Photo by Steve Roberts

David Glover: The Bee Whisperer

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

When bees buzzed into his life, David Glover turned the opportunity into a sweet success. It started in 2009 when Glover took his daughter to see a friend’s honeybees. 

“During that fateful visit, the bees swarmed up into a tree,” recalled Glover. “I devised a plan to attach a bucket to a pole, a long pole. The idea was to hit the limb where the bees were swarming, causing them to fall into the bucket. With the bees in the bucket, I quickly dumped them into an empty hive box and helped my friend set up a second colony.”

Glover found the process fascinating, and quickly recognized the potential for a bee removal business. 

“I contacted another friend who worked in pest control and asked him to let me know the next time he had a call for bees,” said Glover. “Within a week he called me about removing a colony of bees from inside a garage wall. I opened up the wall between the studs, cut out the comb and moved the comb to a new hive box, with the bees following the comb.”

Glover used those bees to set up his own hives. Now he counts over 100 hives in his personal apiary, each one established by removing problem bees from somewhere in the Greater Memphis area.

Glover’s business and his reputation have grown over the last nine years since he began his bee business. About 200 times a year he removes hives from area businesses and homes, with approximately 40,000 bees in each colony. Glover estimates that 70 percent of his work involves removing bees from buildings in Midtown or East Memphis. 

“The established neighborhoods in those areas have older trees which offer hollow spaces that bees want to move into. Even newer structures in those parts of town get bee swarms because of the old growth trees.”

In addition to establishing his own apiary, Glover, who is a Master Beekeeper and a member of the Memphis Area Beekeeper Association as well as the Tennessee Beekeeper Association, relocates most of the bees he removes to help other area beekeepers who have lost their colonies, enabling them to restock their vacant hives — for free. His methods are so successful that he is often called “The Bee Whisperer.”  Glover also provides bees for several nonprofit organizations, like Thistle & Bee, Wounded Warriors and Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, which work with people using bees as the platform. Glover offers information in a “train-the-trainer” fashion so the organizations can enrich their educational programming.

“I get paid to take bees out of houses and businesses and those bees go right back into the system for free,” said Glover. “From my own hives, I supplement my income by selling bees and queens, as well as honey.”

In addition to making connections in the Greater Memphis area, Glover says his work with bees has opened up communications with other beekeepers across the country and around the world from as far away as Africa, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Hawaii, Poland, Puerto Rico and Russia.

“It’s really interesting,” said Glover. “With bees as our common interest, we cut across political and cultural differences for the sake of global sustainability. In the United States, the largest benefit of what bees do is agriculture pollination. For example, every February and March, about two-thirds of the colonies of our bees head to California where they pollinate the almond trees. In fact, about one-third of the food we eat exists because of pollination, and 85 percent of plant life exists because of pollination. With a shared goal of saving our bees and repopulating empty hive boxes, beekeepers are working together to address world hunger and sustainable food sources.” 

For more information about David Glover and his business, visit www.TheBartlettBeeWhisperer.com or his page by the same name on Facebook.