Page 69 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
P. 69

with a warm heart—attributes that will also bene t vocal students at the school.”
Owens and Orlando have some big shoes to  ll. Eliasen, the outgoing director of vocal studies, has been a mainstay at Curtis for more than 30 years, overseeing the development
of singers such as tenor Juan Diego Flórez and recent grad tenor Mingjie Lei, who was just named winner
of this year’s Song Prize at the
BBC Cardi  Singer of the World competition. These international alums help explain why Curtis has sometimes been called “the musical United Nations.”
“There is such a diverse and
rich environment that, almost surely, there is something for everybody,” says Orlando, who worked for many years with Gian Carlo Menotti in Spoleto, Italy, and served as accompanist, judge, and
coordinator for the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. “Many languages are spoken within [Curtis’] hallways. The combination of a powerful history with the excitement that pervades the entire student body is contagious and embracing.”
Being a smaller school helps that diverse student body connect. One of the reasons Flórez chose Curtis, he has said, was because his voice teacher at the time told him he would be “taken care of in a family atmosphere” there.
Former students describe Eliasen’s methods as highly practical, aimed at the real demands of performance, and individualized to each voice and each student’s needs. These philosophies seem to be present in the incoming leadership as well. “Sometimes [voice type] is very clear,” Owens says, “but at those early stages, at 17 or 18, it
can be hard to hear. You don’t want to push that, so you kind of stay with neutral territory repertoire and not necessarily assign an opera role.
“If you can hear a possibility
but you’re not sure yet, give them a couple of years for basic technique. Of course, in conjunction with their teachers—we need to be on the same page. Grad students will be more fully formed but, still, when I was a grad student there was no indication that someday I would be singing Wagner.”
Indeed, when I interviewed Owens more than 10 years ago,
he was singing a wide variety of repertoire, including Handel and Rossini. His voice, he says, has moved up somewhat as well as become more dramatic, so he knows from personal experience that
as voices develop, things change. “Those kinds of decisions usually
Music in  e City of Ange 
The USC Thornton School of Music is located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world’s most vibrant music centers.
Vocal Arts & Opera: BM, MM, GC, DMA

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