Simon Estes, a bass-baritone of international renown, received his early formal music training on the University of Iowa campus and still holds a special regard for the school. He has returned many times for concerts, and sang at the dedication of Old Capitol in 1976.
Estes' professional career in opera began in the opera houses of Germany and in 1965 he was a prize winner in the Munich international competition. In 1966 he won the silver medal in the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. In addition to his operatic career, in which he has sung more than 75 leading roles with the great opera companies of the world, Estes has been soloist with many symphony orchestras here and abroad. He performed at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of the United Nations and sang at the opening of the Olympic Games in Munich.
Estes studied at the University of Iowa as a pre-med student, and later switched to theology and social psychology. He was active in student government, conducted the nurses' choir and was chosen "Campus King". He was the first black member of the Old Gold Singers. It was a campus recital which enabled him to earn the money to audition at the Julliard School of Music, where he later attended.