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putting together the “right package” that would help her transform her training to career. But above all else, she is grateful for the diction and language training: “My diction and language training at the Conservatory was invaluable to me—it’s been a huge asset to my career.” Patty Thom, chair of the voice and opera department,

fully agrees: “It is critical for singers to master both the diction and speech of foreign languages if they aspire to sing operas in German, Italian and French. At the Conservatory, our spoken language classes are taught by native speakers who are also very savvy in terms of theater, music, acting, sound making and improvisation. The approach they take in the spoken language classes is unique to the needs of our singers.” The language classes are not the only distinguishing

feature of the voice program. Since her arrival in 2003, Thom has worked to increase performance opportunities for students at all levels, both on stage and in the class- room. In her first year at the Conservatory, she designed the Voice Performance Seminar Sequence to ensure that students would have the opportunity to practice and integrate all aspects of performance throughout the course of their training. “In the Vocal Performance Seminars, students work specifically on translating and interpreting text, speaking text, finding and developing character and finding that character’s physical movement,” Thom explains. “Students emerge from that sequence having more acting perspectives to draw on than they would in a curriculum that offered only one ‘Acting for Singers’ course.” Thom also points to the role that the musical theater

faculty play in teaching acting to voice and opera students: “There’s now much more interaction between the singing students and the theater faculty. Neil Donohoe [Theater Division Director] and Cathy Rand [musical theater faculty] teach a session on musical theater song to the [voice] seniors. Theater faculty guest direct opera scenes and teach regularly in the opera program. John Kuntz works with students in Vocal Performance class on German Lieder. John doesn’t speak German, but as an actor, writer and director he brings a fresh perspective to the performance of the repertoire.” This variety and exposure to performances in music,

dance and theater is what set the Conservatory’s voice program apart for alumnus and countertenor Matthew Truss (B.M. ’06, voice), a two-time Met Audition finalist and the recipient of numerous vocal awards. “There’s something unique about The Boston Conservatory in that it offers music, dance and theater,” Truss explains. “It’s extremely diverse, yet at the same time, there’s a shared sense of community among faculty,

Matthew Truss (B.M. ’06, voice)

students and staff. The collaborative nature of the program, the quality of production and quality of the education are all very high. It was just an amazing fit for me.” Thom agrees, “The Conservatory’s caring environment

allows students to thrive in their art. The nurturing faculty and close-knit student body give students a strong sense of community.” It’s a community that an increasing number of students

wish to join. Over the last three years, applications to the undergraduate voice program increased by 28 percent. And an increasing number of undergraduates are choosing The Boston Conservatory for their master’s degrees. “That’s a testament to the strength of the program,”

Thom says, noting that in 2003 there were no undergraduate voice students continuing on to the master’s program. “A significant number of students are feeling that there is more to gain from our graduate program after completing four years of undergraduate school.” While Thom is excited about the success and growth

of the department, she says she is just getting started. “I think there are educational connections and training opportunities within and outside of the school yet to be explored,” she says, revealing that she’s working on expanding the current program, extending faculty reach into summer and abroad programs and creating vehicles to give students more systematic and productive feedback: “We are about to begin a new era in the opera program with an entirely new opera faculty team. I expect this will take things in a whole new direction, building on the great work that’s taken place over the last ten years.”


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