Vocal Arts and Music Festival features two weeks of performances and master classes
Some of the world’s biggest opera superstars, vocal coaches, and instrumentalists will come together to provide the musical foundation for this year’s Vocal Arts and Music Festival. Presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech on June 14-29, the event brings two weeks of performances and master classes to the Virginia Tech campus.
Special events will be offered each evening of the festival, including master classes, chamber music concerts, and solo and ensemble performances spotlighting the festival’s talented singers. Returning for a third year, the festival is one of only three International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) programs in the world; the other two are in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Montreal.
A team of voice faculty, comprised of opera legends, vocal coaches, and directors, will spend three weeks working closely with the festival’s talented singers. This group includes vocal masters Mignon Dunn, Ruth Falcon, Sherrill Milnes, and Diana Soviero, who have performed on the world’s most celebrated stages, from the San Francisco Opera in California and the Metropolitan Opera in New York to the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London, the Paris Opera, Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, and more. Milnes has won three Grammy Awards and was nominated a total of five times. Today Dunn, Falcon, Milnes, and Soviero are in high demand as vocal faculty, artistic directors, and advisors. The festival’s distinguished guest artists help to shape the developing singers’ voices and stage presence, providing instruction on how to improve technique and properly prepare for performances.
Internationally acclaimed musicians who have performed with orchestras and chamber music ensembles throughout the world will also be part of the festival. The festival’s instrumental faculty include violinist and Virginia Tech Outreach Fellow for the Fine Arts David Ehrlich; clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, who has appeared with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, and China National Symphony Orchestra; and cellist Dmitry Kouzov, who received first prize at the International Beethoven Competition in the Czech Republic and is a winner of the New York Cello Society Rising Star Award. These musicians and the rest of the instrumental faculty bring their breadth of musical experience and knowledge, and will not only be featured in performances throughout the festival, but will also mentor student chamber ensembles. A group of highly skilled piano accompanists will also provide music for the singers.
The festival’s main attraction is a group of up-and-coming opera singers who audition to participate in the festival and are handpicked by International Vocal Arts Institute founders Joan Dornemann and Paul Nadler, both with the Metropolitan Opera. This year’s group of singers will travel from across the U.S. and countries such as Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Israel to participate in the event. With training from elite music institutions such as Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the vocalists have performed with prestigious groups including the New York Philharmonic and the Miami Lyric Opera; starred in opera masterpieces, such as “La Traviata,” “La Bohème,” “Carmen,” and “Don Giovanni;” and received top honors in a host of international singing competitions.
The Vocal Arts and Music Festival schedule is filled with master classes and evening events, including a 90-minute, one-act opera, “Three Decembers” in the Haymarket Theatre stage on June 24. Composed by Jake Heggie, with a libretto by Gene Scheer, “Three Decembers” is based on an original play by Terrence McNally and is commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera. Other events will feature chamber music selections and musical collaborations between the festival’s renowned instrumental faculty and singers. On Sunday, June 17, Blacksburg-based soprano Ariana Wyatt and Opera Roanoke’s Scott Williamson, tenor, will join the festival chamber musicians, singing solo works and duets for “Voices from the Valleys.”
The corporate sponsor for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival is National Bank. Media sponsors are Virginia Living Magazine and The Roanoke Times.