Friday, December 19, 2008

Undergraduate Programs for Voice in Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University

If great public relations and gloss were the only indicator of a great music program, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty to Music would hold the prize. Their website is a testament to well publicized school events and student accomplishments. For example, their current home page has 5 headlines (press releases) and of them, three of them outline what the voice program and its students are up to.

Laurier has always had a great reputation for performance. Its steady output of students of quality students hit the roof with the current success of alumni soprano Jane Archibald who is a fixture at the Vienna State Opera. Other alumni include Daniel Lichti (now on faculty), Theodore Baerg (on faculty at University of Western Ontario), soprano Kathleen Brett, Steven Horst, and tenor Keith Boldt. Recently under the guide of Canadian mezzo Kimberly Barber, Laurier is now showing itself as a place to learn not just the skills to be a singer but by example, how to promote oneself to the world.

One cannot have a successful voice program without a great vocal coach and Laurier has that with Leslie De'Ath. He is the go-to expert on Diction by serving as an Associate Editor for Language and Diction for the Journal of Singing published by NATS.

All teachers are involved with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) having recently hosted the Ontario General Meeting and Competition. Of the 23 Lauirer singers who competed, half finished in the top three of their respective classes...and out of 4 different voice studios. I would say they are doing something right!

Here is a quick link guide to the nuts and bolts of their program:

1. Faculty List
2. Bachelor of Music in Performance : a four year program with classes in diction, voice lessons and performance opportunities including studio classes and master classes.
3. Opera Diploma Program: a one year post-grad program focusing on continued voice training and stage craft in addition to increasing repertoire knowledge.
4. Intensive Studies in Voice Workshop: optional 9 week spring semester workshop run by the voice department and open to any undergraduate student who wishes to apply (that means from any other school of music!)
5. Audition Requirements: in addition to preparing 2 songs at a minimum of RCM Grade 8 level, those auditioning will write a theory entrance and do a piano proficiency exam.
6. And looks like there are at least 9 named scholarships for entering and current music students including a $2000 Victor Martens and David Falk Scholarship in Voice Performance entrance scholarship named for two of the longest standing voice teachers at Laurier. You can do a more detailed search on their database here.

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