The students of the Vocal Arts Program in performance with Dawn Upshaw at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The students of the Vocal Arts Program in performance with Dawn Upshaw at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

Graduate Vocal Arts Program

Dawn Upshaw, Artistic Director
Kayo Iwama, Associate Director

The Graduate Vocal Arts Program is a unique master of music program in vocal arts. Conceived, designed and led by renowned American soprano Dawn Upshaw, the program was created to prepare the young singer to meet the special challenges of pursuing a professional life in music in the 21st century. This two-year master of music degree balances a respect for established repertory and expressive techniques with the flexibility and curiosity needed to keep abreast of evolving musical ideas. Students work on art song, chamber music, new music and operatic repertoire throughout the coursework of the program. Operatic repertoire is studied and performed throughout the curriculum and, in alternate years, in a fully staged production at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The program also includes a strong practical component with seminars and classes on career skills led by some of the leading figures in arts management and administration.

Dawn Upshaw, Artistic Director

Dawn Upshaw teaches in the Core Seminars, leads Singer's Forum, and also works with the students in weekly individual coaching sessions. She takes a personal interest in the growth of each student, developing a relationship with them in order to help them realize their full potential. Her inspirational presence sets the tone for the exploration and discovery of a wide range of musical styles.

Program Size

Each class consists of a select group of up to nine singers, chosen through an audition process that includes an audio screening and live audition. The small number of students in each class ensures that each singer receives the individual attention that can help to uncover and nurture his or her unique artistic voice.

Guest Artists

The Vocal Arts Program has an exceptional group of master voice teachers, coaches, and instructors. In addition to the impressive resident faculty, a myriad of guest artists drawn from the professional music world supplement the curriculum.

Life After the VAP

The curriculum of the Vocal Arts Program fosters fearless entrepreneurial skills, unique artistic values, and provides access to contacts in the professional music world. These special aspects of the program, along with the support of the distinguished faculty, enable its graduates to lead lives in music that are diverse and wide-ranging.

Young Artist Programs/Festivals
Aldeburgh Festival Britten-Pears Young Artist Program
Aspen Music Festival
Bard Music Festival
Chautauqua Institution Music Festival
Des Moines Metro Opera Apprenticeship
Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar
Fire Island Opera Festival
Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program
Lyric Opera of Chicago Ryan Opera Center
Marlboro Music Festival
Metropolitan Opera, Lindemann Young Artist Development Program
Mostly Mozart Festival
San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship
Tanglewood Festival
Winter Creative Music Residency Fellowship at the Banff Centre for the Arts
Wolf Trap Opera

Professional Activities/Appearances
Albany Symphony
American Symphony Orchestra
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Handel & Haydn Society
Houston Grand Opera Chorus
Houston Symphony
Kennedy Center
Lincoln Center
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Metropolitan Opera Chorus (current member)
National Symphony Orchestra
New York Philharmonic
Opera de Nice
Opera de Versailles
Opera Philadelphia
Philip Glass Ensemble
Phoenix Symphony
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
San Francisco Opera Chorus
San Francisco Symphony
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
String Orchestra of Brooklyn
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
United States Coast Guard Band Soloist
United States Naval Academy Glee Club
Washington National Opera Chorus (current member)

Post-Graduate Programs
Curtis Institute
Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory
Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music
McGill University (Drama & Theatre degree)
University of Houston, Graduate Program in Speech Language Pathology
New England Conservatory
The Juilliard School
University of Maryland College Park, Maryland Opera Studio
University of North Texas

Brian Law Competition
CAM’s 2010 Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition (winner)
Canada Council for the Arts Grant
Connecticut Opera Guild Vocal Competition (winner)
Gerda Lissner Song Competition 2011, 2015
Joy in Singing 2014 (semi-finalist)
Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition
Liederkranz Competition (finalist)
Lyndon Woodside New York Oratorio Society Competition (3rd place)
Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition (winner)
Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition 2009 Winner
Richard Tucker Foundation Award (winner)
Walter W. Naumburg International Vocal Competition 2014 (winner)