BY PETER DORFMAN
Over the past 50 years, Timothy Noble, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music distinguished professor of voice, has sung at The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well as opera houses across Europe, and he’s shared his big baritone with audiences on Broadway and the old Ed Sullivan Show. But since 2004, one of the 72-year-old’s favorite venues has been Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, singing the National Anthem during the Big 10 men’s basketball season.
“I’ve watched Indiana basketball ever since it came on TV,” says Noble, who hails from Peru, Indiana, hometown of composer Cole Porter. “I watched the people who sang the National Anthem and thought, ‘Someday I’m going to do that.’ Then I went off and had this career in New York, performing in Europe, and so on. When I first arrived here 17 years ago and started teaching at the Jacobs School, I thought, ‘Maybe this is my opportunity.’”
Gwyn Richards, Jacobs School dean, recommended Noble for the gig. “Standards are high, and I like to keep them,” Noble says.
Non-singers dread “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which is famously difficult to sing. “It is hard,” Noble admits. “It’s rangy. I guess it is a challenge for an untrained voice.”
An unabashed Hoosiers fan, Noble usually arrives 30 to 45 minutes before tipoff. “I’ll go into the band room and sing for maybe a minute or two, just to make sure everything is okay,” he says. “Then I go watch the guys shoot layups and get the crowd going. When the crowd gets into it, that gets me going.”
Noble has enjoyed getting to know players and coaches over the years during his pregame rituals. “It’s a real privilege,” he says. “Everybody wants to do this. I don’t get any recompense other than a couple of seats, but that’s fair.
“Last year, I was singing along and the microphone cut out,” he recalls. “I just put it in my pocket and kept singing. The band director took it way down so people could hear me. I have a big voice, but this is a big hall.” And a big honor, he says.