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NOA Notes Newsletter
Vol. 39, No. 2
April 2016

In This Issue

From the President
From the President-Elect
From the Vice-President of Conventions
From the Vice President for Regions
From the Editor
From the Finance Committee

Upcoming Deadlines

May 1:  Chamber Opera Composition deadline

2014-16 Winner
The Clever Artifice
of Harriet and Margaret

Leanna Kirchoff

From the President

Reg Pittman

Professor of Music Chair, Voice Division
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Kansas State University

Dear NOA Colleagues,

Happy Spring! I proudly report that your officers and board members have been quite active since the national convention in Indianapolis. We have a wonderful group that’s sincerely interested in ”getting things accomplished.” The convention committee was already making plans for our next convention while we were still in Indianapolis. I want to thank VP of Conventions Carleen Graham, our local host Ben Brecher and other committee members for their preparation for what will be an outstanding convention in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA.
I heard from Al Chaney (chair of advertising), concerning the progress that’s being made for a “shell ad” and other ideas to advertise NOA, national conventions, and competitions. Leigh Holman (co-chair) has been in touch to say that she and her committee members will be investigating strategies for advertising the national convention and other NOA announcements via social media.
Much discussion and work is being accomplished to improve our website, especially easier access to register for conventions and membership renewals.  The membership committee chaired by President-elect Paul Houghtaling, is preparing to launch a membership renewal drive.
When you have the opportunity take a look at the website for information about submitting session proposals, guidelines for the competitions and plans for the next convention. I look forward to reporting on more accomplishments made by our committees during the next edition of NOTES.

From the President-Elect

Paul Houghtaling

Associate Professor of Voice
Director of Opera Theatre Director
The Druid City Opera Workshop
University of Alabama School of Music

Greetings!  I write to you from the national conference of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) in San Antonio. Of course, I'm remembering fondly our own convention here a few years ago, although there's actually water in the river this time.
I've been sitting in on a number of meetings as an officer in the Alabama state organization, and I am increasingly aware with each day how similar the concerns are of organizations such as ours, both large and small. It all comes down to membership.
I now write with two hats on -- President Elect and Chair of the Membership Committee. First, we need help with membership renewals. If you're reading this and you aren't sure whether or not your membership is current, please help our beloved organization and take steps to renew your membership today. If you stay current as part of your annual routine or as part of your convention registration "shopping," we thank you. But lapsed dues payments are a growing problem for our organization and I would like to ask you all to help out in this regard. Please renew your membership today!  We are currently working hard behind the scenes to make our website more user friendly – take a look at the new design – and don't stop trying to get current with your dues. Next, I think it's time we look at ways to attract younger members. How can we make NOA inviting to those just out of their DMAs, to those young opera workshop teachers in brand new teaching jobs whose career momentum could be richly enhanced by involvement in our organization?  I urge the graduate students in my opera program to join NOA and attend the conventions and I encourage you to do the same if you have the opportunity. Let's all champion the student NOA organizations; the young people we get involved now will be our leaders tomorrow.
Thanks, as always, for your year-long energy and commitment to NOA. I'm honored to serve this important and unique organization!  Best regards and happy endings to our busy semesters! 

From the Vice-President for Conventions

Carleen Graham

Distinguished Professor of Music
The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam


As we look towards the end of the semester for most of us, I hope you won’t forget to consider submitting a session proposal for the 2017 convention.  The deadline is Friday, June 17! 

The 2017 convention will be January 4-8 at the historical Fess Parker Double Tree by Hilton Resort 
right across the street from East Beach in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. The theme for the conference will be Fostering Change: Performance & Pedagogy in Opera’s New Millennium.Priority consideration will be given to session proposals that focus on ways in which we might address opera performance practices and pedagogy in an ever-changing era. 


Be creative and think outside of the box! Consider exploring:

  • how colleges, universities and conservatories might develop instructional programming and curricula that both support professional expectations and inspire new ways of thinking about our art form,
  • how educational institutions are using and addressing the increased demand for technology in productions,
  • the ways educational institutions and professional companies might collaborate to give students and faculty access to broader resources and professional expectations,
  • methods of exploring related or alternative careers in the arts that will provide meaningful opportunities for future generations,
  • innovative ways that are being explored regarding community partnerships and collaborations, and
  • how new works (or the re-invention of old works) are being developed at the collegiate level. 

We are looking forward to planning events that will allow us all to recharge and reconnect, while enjoying the beautiful Pacific coast setting.
Please contact me if you have any questions about your session proposal.


Ben says, "Come to Santa Barbara!!!"

From the Vice-President for Regions

Samuel Mungo

Director of Opera Studies and Coordinator of the Voice Area
Texas State University

Fellow NOA members,

I am so excited about some of the things that are happening Regionally at NOA!

Carol Ann, Mark and Dawn have put out Newsletters for their regions, which is so great! Such a strong way to get people involved, by giving each member a chance to show what they are doing.  And speaking of showing what we are doing, Barbara has submitted an NOA session for Texhoma NATS next Fall, where schools will bring a bit of Michael Ching's Speed Dating, and they will be combined and improved in real time!  Very cool!

Look for newsletters from you own Regional Governor soon.  The goal is 2-3 per year, giving each of us ample time and space to promote our Programs, and share ideas on what we are doing in our own neck of the woods!

A couple of other initiatives the Regional Governors and I are working on include production sharing, meaning combining resources to produce a Regional show; sharing lists of sets/costumes/props that can be borrowed or rented; joint Masterclasses, etc. The sky is the limit!

Also, your State Governors are identifying the Opera Programs in each state. With this list, we can connect all of us who teach opera in North America. This level of connection and engagement will serve to make NOA a strong voice in the pedagogy of opera, right where we should be!

It is a fine time to be in NOA! 

David HolleyFrom the Editor

David Holley

Director of Opera and Professor of Music
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Artistic Director, Greensboro Opera

Even if you've never sung Otello's first word which you see at the top of this edition of NOA NOTES, you can celebrate Kirk Severtson's exciting work to update the look and functionality of our website!  I put the link there for easy access, but here it is again -- go there often and bring your friends and colleagues!!
This edition of NOTES looks forward to out 62nd Annual Convention in Santa Barbara, while still reflecting back on our wonderful time in Indianapolis.  Check out the session summaries/reviews below - they may spark some ideas for YOU to present a session in January!!

Do you feel a bit like this at the end of the fall semester?

Escape to Santa Barbara -- NOA Convention 2017!!
NOTE: all 2016 Convention photos courtesy of Richard Poppino Photography

Best to you for a great end to your semesters!!


From the Finance Committee
Carol Ann Modesitt, treasurer

Chair, Finance Committee
Chair 2016 Annual Campaign

Music Department
Southern Utah University

From the Finance Committee:

Do you realize that one third of 2016 has past? It’s hard to believe that Easter has come and gone!  Have you thought about making a tax deductible contribution to the National Opera Association?  You could have a deduction on next year’s 2016 tax forms.
As chair of the 2016 Annual Campaign, I hope that your spring is filled with blossoming trees and flowers.  The National Opera Association would like to thank the following members for their contributions to the 2016 Annual Campaign (in alphabetical order).
Milton Granger
Kirke Mechem
Carol Ann Modesitt
(in memory of Dr. Donald Henrickson)
Carol Notestine
David Ronis
Clifton Ware
Kurt Zeller
(in honor of Barbara Hill Moore)

Thank you!!

Carol Ann


2016 Indianapolis Convention Highlights

Teaching the Elite Singer: A Conversation with Julia Faulkner
(Coaching Singer and Pianist Teams in the Performance of Opera Arias with Julia Faulkner and Margo Garrett)

REVIEW: David Ronis, Director of Opera
University of Wisconsin-Madison

As Director of Vocal Studies at the Ryan Center of Chicago Lyric Opera, Julia Faulkner indeed works with many young singers who are on the fast track to having significant careers.  Thus, her perspective on working with so-called “elite” singers is what NATS Executive Director Allen Henderson sought in interviewing her for this excellent session.
After establishing herself in Europe, Faulkner made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1994 in the title role of Strauss’ Arabella.  The repertoire she performed in such houses as Munich, Vienna, Hamburg and Amsterdam included the Marschallin, Fiordiligi, Ariadne, and the Countesses of both Capriccio and Le Nozze di Figaro.  She moved to back to the U.S. in 2003 to take a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she remained for 10 years before being appointed to her current position at Chicago Lyric Opera.  It was in Madison that Faulkner honed her teaching skills.
Besides a superlative natural vocal gift, what distinguishes “elite” singers at a young age, Faulkner comments, is a special something – “the ‘it’ thing – that quality that you know when you see.”  Such singers also tend to exhibit a kind of curiosity and voracious appetite for the work and have very high standards for their own development.  She characterizes teaching these students as more of a dialogue between two artists, as opposed to a more traditional hierarchical relationship between experienced teacher and novice student.
Each young artist at the Ryan Center has a team, of which Ms. Faulkner is an important part.  Other members include musical coaches, dramatic coaches, and managers.  She is charged with the ongoing evaluation of the artist’s vocal and artistic progress and regularly consults with the singers themselves as well as other members of their team.
For Ms. Faulkner, singing is the most important element in a young artist’s professional package.  She has sometimes found herself on audition panels advocating for particular young singers on the basis of their vocal potential.  She feels that her role in the process is very important - to provide the vocal perspective.
For many of the young artists with whom she works, Faulkner is a wonderful connection to great singers of the previous generation.  When she was coming up in the ranks, she was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to observe and work with the likes Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christa Ludwig, and even Hans Hotter.  Ms. Faulkner delights in these connections which inform her work and is anxious to pass the values that she learned on to today’s young singers.  (Later in the day, she and Margo Garrett gave a joint master class in which she did just that.  Faulkner and Garrett made a terrific team, coaching both singers and pianists, providing insight and inspiration for those in attendance.)

The Perfect Show: Variations and Possibilities in Michael Ching and Dean Anthony’s Speed Dating Tonight

Dr. Samuel Mungo, Texas State University
Carol Ann Modesitt, Southern Utah University
Dean Anthony, Brevard Music Center
REVIEW: Benjamin Brecher, Associate Professor
University of California, Santa Barbara
This presentation centered on how to perform and produce Speed Dating Tonight. The piece is an extremely interesting and flexible and allows for almost any voice type to perform any of the roles. The story, number of scenes, and voice types are completely malleable, and the cast can range from five to twenty-five. There is a small orchestral version (six players), or the work can be performed with just piano
Premiered at The Brevard Music Center by composer/lyricist Michael Ching and director Dean Anthony, the story imagines a speed dating session at a contemporary bar in America. It has traditional opening and closing numbers, but the entire middle section is made up of vignettes of one-to-two minutes that can be put together completely depending on the resources of the opera program. Even more importantly, each scene can be performed in ‘high, medium, or low’ key, giving the director complete flexibility in casting. As Professor Mungo stated, “We can now cast completely on personality, or give a student a stretch, and are not worried about the vocal range of a role.”
The work if performed in its entirety can last up to over an hour, or be considerably shorter. During the presentation both Professors Modesitt and Mungo had their students perform a few scenes from the opera. The music was contemporary and accessible in style and not too difficult. Dr. Mungo had the students actually switch parts for a bit to show the complete moldable experience putting this show together can be. In sum, the presenters gave the attendees of this session, a unique and extremely entertaining way to come up with an opera workshop project that would work at almost any level of university or conservatory opera program. 

Mexican Songs of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Dr. Valerie Trujillo (Florida State University)
Dr. Christina Villaverde (Chipoda College)
Professor Daniel Weeks (Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music)

REVIEW: Dr. Frederick Kennedy, 
Professor of Voice, Tennessee Tech University

Among a number of wonderful and informative sessions at the 61st Annual convention of the National Opera Association partnered with the National Association of Teachers of Singing Winter Workshop, the presentation by Dr. Valerie Trujillo was a stand-out. A professor at Florida State University, Dr. Trujillo’s research provided us with new insights on the importance of the Mexican vocal art song and showed that more performances should be done of them.  Her examples performed at the session were varied in creativity and variety.

The session was structured as a mini-recital with brief informative discussions of the composers chosen, followed by performances of the chosen works.  Dr. Trujillo’s colleagues for the singing portion of the session was Christina Villaverde, mezzo-soprano, and Daniel Weeks, tenor.  Both singers performed their portion of the music splendidly with Dr. Trujillo playing with taste and sensitivity.

The composers discussed in the lecture represented more familiar names and some not so familiar. Representative compositions were from the following composers:  Manuel Ponce(1882-1948), José Rolón (1883-1945),  Ramón Noble (1920-19990, Federica Ibarra (b. 1946), Maria Teresa Prieto (1910-1982),  and Luis Sandi (1905-1996). All of these composers’ compositional styles were in some way influenced by French composers. However,  the composers also believed  in  the inclusion of Mexican rhythms, and recognizable melodic structure to show cultural identity. 

As an example, Manuel Ponce composition exhibited more of a conservative style by body embracing the Mexican rhythms and using archaic poetry in his Seis poemas arcaicos.  A more different approach represented was the Diez hai-kais by Luis Sandi.  Sandi uses ten haiku poems written by Jose Juan Tablada, and he follows the Japanese format of creating a short form of poetic verse within the Japanese rules.  Sandi wrote a sparse accompaniment for the work, yet incorporating Mexican rhythms underpinning some use of the pentatonic scale to give a bit of Japanese influence to the composition. 

Without question, the session introduced many of us to an interesting and varied treasure of Mexican compositions that should be explored and performed. 

Multi-Media In Art Song Performance: Breaking Traditions To Preserve A Global Legacy
Rena Sharon, University of British Columbia

REVIEW: Caroline Schiller, DMA
Professor, Voice and Opera
Memorial University of Newfoundland

 “Believing the preservation of art song to be an artistic mission and concerned because 21st century audiences seem increasingly less connected to art song, Rena Sharon poses the question: can art song performance include innovative multi-media adaptations that preserve its profound aesthetic integrities?”
At the recent conference in Indianapolis I was thrilled to attend an informative and creative session by one of art songs’ most passionate advocates, Rena Sharon. Dr. Sharon is Professor of Collaborative Piano Studies and an Associate at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is also the founder of the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI), a comprehensive, interdisciplinary summer institute that explores all facets of art song in research and performance.
This particular session focused on the importance of art song as both musical art form and communicative medium. It dealt with concerns of declining audience attendance for art song recitals head on, and provided exciting ideas with which to ensure that the art song would remain a vital and vibrant part of performance in today’s world.
Dr. Sharon has done extensive research into the integration of multi-media and staged performance within the traditional recital program. In the process, she has uncovered ways to not only maintain and respect art song’s legacy but also make the traditional recital format of particular relevance to today’s audiences. This session stressed both the pedagogical and artistic value of this repertoire and discussed the numerous opportunities that exist to expand current audiences, opportunities that include the exploration of more “adaptive performance formats” and venues, and a comprehensive analysis of poetry and music considering not only the mood but world-view and dramatic intent. 
The audience was reminded that a number of the conventions that we take for granted regarding the traditional recital are contemporary constructs and not always reliable models of the composers’ time. Dr. Sharon offered a myriad of suggestions for enhancing recital performance for audience members and performers alike. Some examples included: projected poetic text, translations, and/or art work (where applicable); the inclusion of an introductory dialogue to establish a context for the music and poetry; expanded use of the stage (beyond the piano); and the creation of an improvised story or scripted narrative that uses art song as its dramatic foundation.
Dr. Sharon incorporated photos and video of young singers demonstrating some of these techniques in live performance and provided positive feedback from her experiences working directly with singers and audiences in this “enhanced” art song recital format.
This session reminded attendees of the unique artistic fusion that is art song.  It underlined the importance of honoring that which is essential to its existence while creatively exploring ways to “bring the ancient into the current” ensuring not only its survival, but also its continued growth for centuries to come.

Yoga for Singers: Vocalized Vinyasa 
Linda Lister, UNLV Director of Opera

REVIEW: Susan Williams
Assistant Professor of Voice
University of Alabama

Dr. Linda Lister's second session at NOA this year was entitled, Yoga for Singers: Vocalized Vinyasa.  In yoga, vinyasa refers to the linking of the breath to movement. In this session, she incorporated singing into the movements as well.  This invigorating session used rib opening postures, balance postures, standing, seated, and twisting postures all while incorporating a fun mix of classical and popular songs throughout the class. Participants were encouraged to sing along at will.

Dr. Lister highlighted the many benefits of yoga that can correlate with singing such as calming the mind, regulating the breath, keeping a positive mindset, and coordination and concentration.   She has found that incorporating singing along to the class "playlist" of songs makes her students feel less self-conscious about the postures themselves. This lighthearted class was full of smiles, and left me feeling energized and upbeat.  

Recital Story Telling
Merging Compelling Stories with the music of great composers
through drama/narration and the visual arts.
The Harmonica
A Testament to the Human Spirit and the Transcendent Power of Music


REVIEW: Reg Pittman, NOA President
Professor of Music Chair, Voice Division
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Kansas State University

Tony Johnston, Author; Ron Mazellan, Illustrator; Keith Brautigam, Tenorl Debbie Myers, Pianist
Luke Brautigam, Narrator; Caleb Brautigam, Violist

 This session featured a discussion and presentation of a collaborative voice event utilizing the award-winning story, The Harmonica, by Tony Johnston integrated with the compelling lieder of Franz Schubert. Inspired by the true story of Henryk Rosmaryn, who, as a young boy, was taken to a concentration camp from his homeland in Poland in 1939.
Lieder of Franz Schubert:
Der vater mit dem kind                          
Der Rattenfänger                                  
Die Knabenzeit                                          
Der Erlkönig                             
Nacht und Träume   
Das Weinen
An die Musik
Additional music of Franz Schubert:
Gramophone Recording: Sändchen – recorded by Mischa Elman in 1923 on Victor Red Seal Records.
Adagio from Arpeggione Sonata (viola)
Thank you to Keith Brautigam for bringing this emotionally stirring presentation.

Experiential Learning of Opera Through Parodies from Operetta

REVIEW: Dr. Patricia Vigil, Philadelphia, PA

In her session, Experiential Learning of Opera Through Parodies from Operetta, Dr. Susan Ali explored the parallels between operetta and opera as a learning tool for young singers.  Dr. Ali, Assistant Professor at Cal Poly Pomona and adjunct professor at Orange Coast College, prepares her students to sing opera by assigning parodies from operetta.  More specifically, Dr. Ali ingeniously employs the operetta parodies of Gilbert and Sullivan as a transition for her students into the operatic repertoire.  The session was divided into six parts: The Patter Song; the Large Ensemble; The Small Ensemble; The Soprano Waltz; The Love Duet; and The Brindisi.  In each of these sections, Dr. Ali presented short excerpts from operetta and an opera which were similar in structure and style.  For example, the large ensemble excerpts, “A Nice Dilemma” from Trial by Jury and “D’un pensiero e d’un accento” from La Sonnambula were similar in rhythm, tonality, and motives.  Dr. Ali was expertly assisted by collaborative pianist Dr. J. Bradley Baker from Wichita Grand Opera, as well as six students from Orange Coast College and Cal Poly: Mario Arias, Jared Ferree, Mizuho Ishiguro, Dayna Laramie, Jorge Maldonado, and David Tkach.  Dr. Ali also discussed the difficulties of programming scenes and operas in a school with a small or new opera program with a limited number of students.  She offered several proposals:
  • Underclassmen/Upperclassmen Models:  a scenes program where underclassmen perform operetta parodies and upperclassmen perform the operas that are parodied.
  • Scenes program with “parallels.”
  • Two semester project: operetta repertoire in the Fall semester, Grand Opera in the Spring semester.
Dr. Ali’s presentation was informative and clever and offered an intriguing solution for easing young singers into the operatic repertoire.

Poster Session: 61st Annual NOA Convention

Deborah Popham, Faculty                        Justin John Moniz, DMA Candidate           Suzanne Ramo, Faculty
Shorter University                                     Florida State University                              West Texas A & M University

                           Loraine Sims, Faculty                                  Dr. Patricia Vigil, DMA Temple University
                           Louisiana State University                            Philadelphia, PA

Congratulations to our 2015 Stage Director Intern!

Jen Stephenson with NOA President Reg Pittman

Professor Stephenson interned at Druid City Opera Workshop and is Assistant Professor of Music
at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas.
Copyright © 2016 National Opera Association, All rights reserved.

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