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Oilfield Worker Enjoys Double Life as Ultra-Tsonic Tenor

6/8/2009 11:50:03 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. To some, Randy Duncan of Lovington is known as an oilfield worker. To others, he’s known as a tenor. But to Anne Turner Tsonis, New Mexico Junior College vocal professor and director of the Ultra-Tsonics Singers opera group, he’s a surprising combination, what she has dubbed an “oilfield tenor.”

Duncan, a 55-year-old field and maintenance supervisor for Targa Resources in Monument, insists his pursuit of opera isn’t all that unusual. “Many people think people who work in the oilfield are different and may not want to pursue artistic endeavors.  If you look around the oilfield, however, there are a lot of people who sing,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many really good singers there are in the oilfield.”

According to Tsonis, she believes Duncan’s involvement in opera and the Ultra-Tsonics is a form of therapy. “He has a stressful job, and it can be dangerous in the oilfield,” she said. And he enjoys getting together with us and singing. “It’s a nice outlet where he can relax. I believe it’s a kind of stress buster for him.”

Duncan had taken a singing class with Tsonis in the past, but he had had to drop it because of his job. When Tsonis called him this fall and urged him to join her eight-member group, all of whom are music majors, Duncan agreed, thinking that with her help he could improve his singing skills as a member of the Hillcrest Harmony Boys in Lovington, a gospel group comprised of five oilfield workers.

But he was surprised to learn that the Ultra-Tsonics were primarily opera singers. “I didn’t do a lot of opera. I didn’t know it was so much opera. I like it though,” he said, explaining that opera is rather different from other types of singing. “You have to try to learn to project your voice more. A good opera singer has a more powerful voice than you might hear in a lot of regular singers,” he said. “It’s all singing.  It’s more voice control with opera.”                                         

Duncan became interested in singing three years ago when he joined his church choir. For the last nine months he’s been performing with the Hillcrest Harmony Boys, who mainly perform for Sunday services at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lovington, although they also performed at a gospel show in Hobbs several months ago.

“I was the sound guy at my church, and that’s how my interest in music began,” he said.  “I’d be at the back of the church doing choir practice, and I’d enjoy hearing other people sing as I sat quietly with the choir.  Every so often at our church, they ask if anyone new wants to join the choir, and my wife and some church friends suggested I try, so I did.”

When asked what he enjoys most about singing, Duncan insists it’s the special way it allows him to participate. “In church, it’s a way to convey the message without standing up and talking. A lot of times, songs bring back memories people may have,” he said. “Sometimes, a song can touch someone where the spoken word may not.”

Sagacious words from someone who splits his time between the earth-bound responsibilities of the oilfield and the heavenly inspiration of song and praise. Sagacious words indeed.

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