iSing singers attend prestigious summer intensives at Interlochen and Tanglewood
Some iSing singers are getting so deep into singing that they are choosing to extend their music studies during their summers, at auditioned, intensive music programs. Whether you’re simply curious to learn more about what goes on at a high-level summer music enrichment program or whether you’re considering the benefits of a program like this, you’ll want to read what Hannah Kloninger-Stever and Mia Hamilton have to say about their summer 2019 intensives at prestigious music programs at Interlochen and at Tanglewood.
Would you tell is about the program you attended?
HK-S: This summer I was part of the Vocal Artist Major at Interlochen Arts Camp. It focused on all aspects of improving musicianship through solo voice lessons, opera scenes, choir, and music theory. I had the opportunity to sing in recitals, perform in a masterclass, and conduct my choir ensemble. One of the most impactful moments for me was getting to perform Craig Hella Johnson's oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard, which was very difficult but is an incredibly moving piece.
MH: I attended The Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s Young Artists Vocal Program. The curriculum was based on a conservatory model of training: developing the essentials for healthy vocal technique, informed musicianship, as well as convincing performance. A typical weekday included an hour of music history or diction, an hour and a half of choir rehearsals, an hour and a half of music theory and an hour of voice class (masterclass style with around eight students) with opera scenes rehearsals in the evening. We participated in weekly masterclasses where five to seven students work with a BU professor or a guest artist. Each week, we took 45-minute voice lesson and a 20-minute voice coachings. We were expected to practice an hour a day, six days a week. Since we received college credit for the program, we complete graded homework assignments and took course finals.
Students had free lawn access to all Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts, so my friends and I would often walk down to the Tanglewood main grounds and listen to the concerts on the lawn. I had the opportunity to see Yo-Yo Ma, John Williams, Renée Fleming, and Hillary Hahn, just to name a few!
How do you think iSing prepared you for Interlochen?
HK-S: The amazing choral education I have received at iSing is 100% behind my getting the opportunity to participate in a program like this. The iSing team generously helped me put together my audition videos, which shows their incredible support of iSing students' musical pursuits. Once at Interlochen, I always felt very confident in terms of sight reading, because iSing has helped me become super comfortable using solfege — it’s such a crucial skill for singers.
MH: I think iSing prepared me in some way for virtually every skill I needed to use throughout my time at Tanglewood. Skills I brought from iSing included:
My sense of musicality and musicianship. We read through new pieces at iSing so often; it’s impossible for you to keep up at rehearsal if you can’t read your music. In my opera scene, I was the only one who could read music at a relatively high level (I’m definitely still working on those skills though)
The ability to sing well with others and to be strong on my own part — a skill that surprisingly proved to be quite a challenge for many of my peers.
Using my “big ears” and listening to the other parts I’m singing with, to enrich my own part (or in the case of solo singing, paying attention to the piano part).
iSing has also taught me that in order to give an effective and informed performance, you have to care about every detail of the music. I think so much of this may seem intuitive to iSing students. But it really isn’t, for many singers, even at selective summer programs. Being musical and having the ability to read music will really make you stand out amongst your peers and distinguish you as not only a talented singer but a professional, capable musician.
What surprised you about your summer program?
HK-S: Something that surprised me about the Vocal Artist program was how much I enjoyed the opera scenes performances, and how much I grew in terms of solo vocal performance. Although I don't know a lot about opera, I had so much fun delving into both the acting and vocal aspects of it. I also found that the recitals and solo performance opportunities I had pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and to become more vulnerable in my performance.
MH: I assumed the majority of serious musicians have access to an organization like iSing, when in fact people my age rarely do. The majority of my peers at Tanglewood either don’t sing in a choir at all at home, or only sing with school or church choirs. I also found that a lot of people who focused mainly on solo singing tended to view choir as something less valuable to them as musicians — when in fact I think choir is more important. They just need to visit iSing!
It’s important to realize that iSing is really, really special. iSing is unique in that it combines an exceptional music education with a supportive community of fierce, passionate young girls and women. We iSing singers are beyond fortunate to be able to sing challenging choral music at such a high level. I can’t imagine being the solo singer I am today without having a choir like iSing in my life.
Have you been inspired to pursue new skills, types of repertoire, other aspects of musical study and performance, now that you have had this experience?
HK-S: I definitely feel like I am now more driven to pursue my solo voice and classical repertoire — in addition to choir. Being surrounded by so many dedicated and talented soloists inspired me to spend more time on solo rep, and it also helped me see how choral and solo singing can benefit each other.
MH: My music theory and diction skills grew tremendously throughout my time at Tanglewood. I’m really excited to take home what I learned — and to continue developing those skills. We were assigned two pieces throughout the program (one Italian piece and one English piece) which I am excited to keep working on and add to my repertoire. In my music history class, I was fascinated by our lesson on Lieder (German art song). This inspired me to design an independent study project at school on the topic. Tanglewood also gave me a clearer idea of what it would be like to study music as a college student and the typical classes I would be expected to take. I think one of the most valuable aspects of the program was having the opportunity to work with teachers who work at universities during the school year. When it comes to choosing a college, the teacher and the performance opportunities at the school are most important to me, so Tanglewood was a great way to start developing relationships with teachers at certain schools and help narrow down my search a bit!