UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 06 Spring 17 Library
Lisa Burrs performing in Washington D.C.               Credit: Joe Adkins

Voice for the Stage Class Gets Hands-On Experience

A new initiative from the McIntire Department of Music is bringing students a uniquely comprehensive perspective on vocal music in the 21st Century. “Voice for the Stage,” taught by Music Department faculty members Pam Beasley and Brenda Patterson, puts students in the middle of the creative process by placing them in the roles of performers, producers, directors, and designers as they explore genres including opera, musical theatre, multimedia, and non-western vocal music. 

Joan La Barbara performing in New York
(Photo: Jill Steinburg)

The class imagines the contemporary vocalist as a leader in dynamic, voice-based, intermedia art. Students are assigned texts, scores and source materials from musical theatre, opera, and song, and then come up with their own directing and design concepts, including directing each other in short scenes. By rehearsing, presenting, and then discussing the scenes directed by class members, the students explore the creative process from all angles. Beasley and Patterson were joined throughout the semester by a variety of guest artists in presentations that focus on improvisation, interpretation, and stagecraft. Voice for the Stage featured a residency by the world-renowned British early music ensemble, The Orlando Consort, known for making its repertoire of European music from 1050-1550 into a more contemporary focus by commissioning composers and collaborating in newer media forms such as film. As part of its residency, the ensemble performed their live score to a film screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” in a special concert in Old Cabell Hall.

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