Kyle Ketelsen

The Hall of Honor Committee has asked current Clinton High School students to interview the 2019 living inductees and write a press release to share with you.  The 2019 Induction ceremony is Friday, April 12 and is open to the public.  Reservations may be made to Deb Deters,


Clinton High Performing Arts Inductee into the Academic Hall of Honor

By Evan Harden

In April, Clinton High School intends to honor alumni that have made a difference and an impact on the world. Within the inaugural class is Kyle Ketelsen, a world renowned opera performer.

Ketelsen was a 1989 CHS graduate. In a recent interview, Ketelsen stated that he was contacted by Jennifer Graf and Gary DeLacy about whether he could stop in Clinton to perform and work with current students. Graf and DeLacy then told Ketelsen, while in Clinton, that he would be inaugurated into the CHS Hall of Honors Class. Ketelsen stated that this was a “pleasant surprise” and “a milestone in my career.”

When asked about his childhood in Clinton, and his life at CHS, Ketelsen replied, noting fond memories. “I’d go everywhere in town on my bike,” said Ketelsen. “I loved my childhood in Clinton.” Clinton, at the time, had a good music community. Ketelsen expressed his love for music. “Music moves you.  It’s something of value.” Ketelsen developed a passion for music, driven by the teachings of John DeHaan. He stated that DeHaan “demanded excellence” and taught his students different, complex music. The choir students learned to depend on each other.They performed nationally and ranked above other schools. His times in the choir room gave him lasting memories.

Outside of the choir room, Ketelsen excelled in mathematics. His aptitude placed him in advanced math classes. Another class Ketelsen really enjoyed during his time in CHS was physics. His teacher, Mr. Gunzel, was passionate about what he taught which left an impression on his students.

After CHS, Ketelsen attended the University of Iowa. While there, his love and understanding for music grew even more. He was taught by Albert Gammon. Gammon gave Ketelsen “excellent guidance” in his early career. Ketelsen was taught to make things his own in music. After Iowa, Ketelsen attended Indiana University to earn a Master of Music degree. He was taught by Giorgio Tozzi, who was another great influence in Ketelsen’s life.

Before long, Ketelsen began to perform internationally. He stressed the importance of having your own voice. Having your own voice is most natural. Ketelsen has won first prize in many vocal competitions around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the George London Foundation, the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, the National Opera Association, and the Liederkranz Foundation.

Although after being in this business for the last 20 years, Ketelsen also how important his family is to him. Ketelsen that he “found the right partner,” and they “made it work for 20 years.” The downside to what he does is travelling and being away from his family. However, Ketelsen makes time to be at home. An opportunity in Vienna presented itself, but he had to turn it down due to it taking too much time away from his family, which includes two children.

Influencing young, impressionable students has kept Ketelsen humble. He has often said, “If you have an interest, then it could become a vocation. There is a way to get what you want in life, through dedication and hard work.” He stated he loves what he does and getting paid for doing something he loves is a “gift.”

On April 12, Ketelsen is hoping to see people from his past. He hopes to reconnect with teachers because human interactions fulfill him. He will be performing in Clinton High’s Vernon Cook Theater on April 11.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s