Every summer, Petrie School students have opportunities to travel in the US and abroad, thanks to the annual E.T. McLean Study-Travel Scholarship for outstanding music majors. These are a few of their stories…what will be YOUR travel adventure?
“I was a part of the Tuscia Opera festival and the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy, this summer. I sang the role of La Badessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and I was the mezzo-soprano soloist in Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.
“…while singing of the suffering of the Virgin Mary during Christ’s crucifixion, lightning flashed in the mountains… very eerie!”
Two of my performances took place inside the walls of medieval Italian towns in beautiful churches that were hundreds of years old.
The other was ensconced in a lovely courtyard, built in the mid-1200s, with beautiful mountain scenery, a trickling fountain, and a gorgeous Baroque chamber orchestra. During the latter performance, while singing of the suffering of the Virgin Mary during Christ’s crucifixion, lightning flashed in the mountains behind the singers and orchestra…very eerie! However, the best part of this Italian adventure was sharing it with my Converse voice teacher, Mrs. Rebecca Turner, current Converse students who also participated in the program, and two Converse alumnae who came to visit us from Rome.”
“Imagine living for six weeks in an environment where, to hear great music played by the world’s most outstanding performers, all you have to do is walk from your cabin to the nearby auditorium! Helpful master classes, studio classes, and weekly piano lessons along with fascinating Q&A sessions with great performers made Brevard even greater. This was my summer at Brevard Music Center. Surrounded by many already incredible musicians, I thrived on the passion for music I could feel in the air.
Students came from many backgrounds. One of my roommates could speak and write Croatian and had a terrifying scream (but that’s another story), while another roommate left her family and friends in China to study piano in the US. Some of the highlights of Brevard were Dr. Weeks’ fabulous hiking trips and picnics! We also traveled to see a very large collection of historic keyboard instruments. I had the opportunity to hear Itzhak Perlman play live and was thrilled to attend a Q&A session with the winner of the 2013 Van Cliburn, Vadym Kholodenko.”
“I was able to travel to Italy for a month to be a lead in two wonderful programs. The first program was Bassi Brugnatelli Conducting Symposium, where I was the mezzo-soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
While there, I was able to gain experience working with conductors and learning how to communicate effectively as a soloist. This type of experience is invaluable, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been apart of such a life-changing experience. During the second program, Tuscia Opera Festival, I sang Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, which has always been a dream role for me. While at this program, I learned how to work with conductors and other production staff members in a European environment. This experience is very critical in refining how I effectively communicate in another language and in developing a professional persona. Out of this second program, I have received many wonderful opportunities that will expand my career as a soloist and professional artist.”
“This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Harrower Opera Program at Georgia State University. I had the great fortune to work Julia Fijanwith incredible singers, voice teachers, choreographers, stage directors and musical directors.
“Our instructor taught us that we must be sincere. We must find something within ourselves that we can relate to, so we can authentically communicate with and touch the audience.”
Each morning we began with a one to two hour movement class. In these classes we worked on flexibility, core strength, body awareness, expression and improvisation. I found the movement class to be quite challenging, but extremely rewarding! It was from these movement classes that I learned how much I
can express with my body, without even opening my mouth to sing. I also gained a comfort and
confidence to trust my body’s instincts in how I should improvise and express. This was particularly helpful since I was cast as a fairy in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the afternoons we would often attend a master class by very successful performers and stage directors, including David Daniels, Tomer Zvulun (General and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Opera), and Caroll Freeman (Classical Singer Magazine’s “2010 Stage Director of the Year”). I learned by watching our directors, to see what they expected of us, and how important it is to immerse oneself in the role that one is playing. I had some very helpful one-on-one interactions with voice teachers and other instructors, who gave me personal instruction on how to improve my vocal technique and performing technique. Adding to all of these wonderful experiences, I made some lasting friendships with colleagues who I hope to work with in the future.”
“This summer, I attended the InterHarmony International Music Festival, a chamber music festival, under the direction of Misha Quint in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany. Our days began with German diction classes each morning with the Bavarian actress Sophie Ritz. The days alternated between lessons and coachings with Deidre O’Donohue from NYU Steinhardt and theLindsey Brakhage Manhattan School of Music. While I was there, I not only had the opportunity to perform Mozart and Rachmaninoff, but I
was also chosen to perform an original piece by a well-known Bavarian composer, Eckhart Kopetski.
The musical advice from all of the teachers, meeting so many talented musicians and friends and just soaking in the culture was more than I could ever ask for. It was truly an honor being in the cities where Mozart lived and composed, where Wagner built his opera house, and where Weber, Meyerbeer, and Liszt walked on the same cobblestone. The most exciting experience I had was after my chamber group’s first performance of the Rachmaninoff. All of the program’s participants enjoyed an evening of celebration back at one of the hotels we were assigned to. Some musicians got up and began playing and singing Frank Sinatra in the lobby of the hotel, while the rest of us conversed and laughed on the high of the performances. I remember at one point looking around and having to take in the fact that I was actually there. It was one of those cherished moments that seemed like something wonderful out of a movie. The next morning I woke up to find that the local newspaper wrote a review of our performance. It was my first review, and it was completely in German. I couldn’t read any of it! So, I ran up to the nearest German man and asked him to translate it for me. It was under a section entitled ‘Gänsehaut-Moment,’ which translated to ‘Goosebump Moments,’ and read that the performance would’ve made Rachmaninoff proud. I think that was the happiest I’ve ever been.”