School of Music

Penny Shumate

Penelope Shumate, D.M.A.
Associate Professor, Voice
Browne Hall Studio G 

Praised by The New York Times for her singing with "bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness," and complimented by The New York Concert Review for "her sparkling coloratura perfection" and "beautiful, flexible, dramatic voice," Dr. Penelope Shumate's recent engagements include her debut and return appearances in David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, where she has also appeared in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. For her debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, she performed as the soprano soloist in "Messiah Refreshed," a new album released in 2020 and recorded at Abbey Road Studios. This studio has hosted recording sessions for iconic groups such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and has also been the location of film score recordings including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Harry Potter series, among many others. She performed the title role in Kassandra, a new opera composed by Rice University's Shepherd School of Music Professor of Theory and Composition, Dr. Anthony Brandt, for the world premiere at Opera in the Heights. She will also perform this role for the album recording of the opera.

She was selected as the First Place Winner in Oratorio performance in The American Prize in Vocal Performance 2019. For her recent performance in Messiah presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City, she was complimented in the New York Concert Review; “Soprano Penelope Shumate was a real find for me, with a voice that has been described previously in the New York Concert Review as “radiant,” and I can see why. The clear tones were true and expressive, one of the best “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” that I have ever heard live. Her "I know that my redeemer liveth" was "lovely." Her upcoming and recent engagements include performances with Rapides Symphony, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, and Heartland Festival Orchestra (Carmina Burana and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9), Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Morton Community Chorus and Orchestra (Messiah), Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association (Te Deum/Dvořák and "Ah! Perfido," Op. 65), Downers Grove Choral Society (Magnificat/Vivaldi, Messiah, The Creation, and Vesperae solennes de confessore), Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center ("Nightingales of the Shenandoah Valley"), Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra ("Carols and Candles"), Peoria Area Civic Chorale (Holiday Favorites), Galesburg Community Chorus and Orchestra (Dona nobis pacem and Missa in tempore belli), Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Southern Illinois University (Carmina Burana), Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra and Evanston Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 9), The Virginia Consort (Requiem/Rutter), McDonough Choral Society (Requiem/Rutter and Fauré), Muddy River Opera Company (Laurie in The Tender Land, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Micaëla in Carmen), Lyric Opera of Chicago Northfield Chapter Community (Opera Favorites), Fourth Presbyterian Church Concert Series in Chicago and Drake University ("Of Love and Peace"), the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (Benedicite and Ein Deutches Requiem), Opera on the James (Opera Gala), and the Burlington Chamber Music Concert Series (Chamber Music by Copland, Rodrigo, and Vaughan Williams). At Carnegie Hall and David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City, she has also appeared as a soloist in both the Mozart and Verdi Requiem, Carmina Burana, Coronation Mass, St. Nicolai Mass, Messiah, and Stabat Mater by living composer, Paul Mealor.

She has appeared with opera companies and orchestras across America including Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Roanoke, Lake George Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Annapolis Opera, Baltimore Concert Opera, Baltimore Opera, Jacksonville Lyric Opera, Concert Opera Philadelphia, Duluth Festival Opera, Opera on the James, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Canterbury Choral Society, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, Kennett Symphony Orchestra, MidAmerica Productions, Little Orchestra Society of New York, Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra, Lynchburg College Choral Union and Orchestra, Luzerne Music Festival, and Rockwell Productions, among others.

In addition to her recent selection as the winner of the Chicago Oratorio Award, she has also been an award winner with the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Marie E. Crump Vocal Arts Competition, MacAllister Awards, New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Vocal Competition, American Prize, Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, The American Prize, Octave Artist Management Excellence in Arts, James Parkinson Opera Competition, Kennett Symphony Orchestra Vocal Competition, and the Altamura/Caruso International Vocal Competition.

Dr. Penelope Shumate was honored as the winner of the 2018 Provost's Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative/Performance/Professional Activities. For two years in a row, she was also the winner of the College Of Fine Arts and Communication Dean's Award of Excellence for Scholarly/Creative/Performing Activities (2018 & 2017). In addition to her active professional performance career, she is also a frequent soloist at WIU and has performed with the Wind Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra, University Singers, and has appeared in solo recitals and in the Faculty Chamber Music concerts. She also created the role of Rose in The World is Round, an opera by WIU faculty member, Dr. Paul Paccione.

Her WIU voice students' off-campus successes include being selected for international and national voice training programs, winning awards and placing in vocal competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and NATS (classical and musical theatre categories), being hired for professional performance engagements, and accepting awards to attend prestigious graduate schools. At WIU, her students' successes include being selected as winners of the School of Music Aria/Concerto Competition for 2019, 2017, and 2016, performing leading and supporting roles in the Opera Theatre main-stage productions, appearing as soloists with university ensembles, Opera Workshop, and Student Showcase Convocation concerts, and being awarded vocal scholarships.

Dr. Shumate's Voice Studio - Student Performances

In addition to extensive Vocal Pedagogy training during both her DMA and Master of Music degrees, Dr. Shumate has also studied Alexander Technique and Estill Voice Training, and teaches both Classical and CCM vocal genres. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Temple University, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Vocal Performance and Radio and T.V. Communication from Radford University.

Visit to learn more about her professional performance and teaching career.

Dr. Penelope Shumate performs as the soprano soloist of "Messiah Refreshed" with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, conducted by Jonathan Griffith, recorded at Abbey Road Studios.


Rice University's Shepherd School of Music Professor of Theory and Composition, Dr. Anthony Brandt, selected Dr. Penelope Shumate to create the title role in his new opera, Kassandra, for the world premiere at Opera in the Heights in Houston. (Excerpts of the Performance)

Dr. Penelope Shumate and Dr. John McMurtery perform Deux poèmes de Ronsard by Roussel

Dr. Penelope Shumate and Collaborative Pianist Dr. Po-Chuan Chiang perform "Mother knows best" from Tangled by Alan Menken.

Dr. Penelope Shumate performs "Una voce poco fa" by Rossini with the WIU Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Richard Hughey.

Dr. Penelope Shumate and Collaborative pianist Dr. Po-Chuan Chiang perform "Strider sento la procella" from Lucio Silla by Mozart.

Dr. Penelope Shumate performs "Ah! perfido" by Beethoven with the WIU Chamber Orchestra conducted by Maestro Richard Hughey.

Dr. Penelope Shumate performs "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion" from Handel's Messiah with the WIU Chamber Orchestra conducted by Maestro Richard Hughey.

Dr. Penelope Shumate, Dr. John McMurtery, and Professor Eric Ginsberg perform Copland's "As it fell upon a day."

Dr. Penelope Shumate and Dr. John McMurtery perform "Verde Verderol" from Dos Poemas de Juan Ramón Jiménez by Joaquin Rodrigo.

Dr. Penelope Shumate and Professor Eric Ginsberg, perform "Quasi Menuetto" from Three Vocalises by R. Vaughan Williams.