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 performance. 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 career 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.

Program Size

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

Guest Artists

A group of master voice teachers, coaches, instructors in Alexander Technique, and experts in acting, movement and diction is supplemented by guest artists drawn from the professional music world. Previous guest artists have included the conductor James Conlon; Metropolitan Opera coaches Robert Cowart, Ken Noda and Pierre Vallet; stage directors Peter Sellars, Nic Muni; dramaturge Cori Ellison; music criitic Richard Dyer;  and singers Dwayne Croft, Phyllis Curtin and Lucy Shelton.

Artistic Director

Dawn Upshaw teaches the Core Seminar course and also works with the students in weekly individual coaching sessions and master classes. 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.

Distinctions earned by graduates of the program include:

  • Winner, Young Concert Artists International Competition
  • Winner, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
  • Winner, Astral Artists National Auditions
  • Debut Artist Award Winner, Joy of Singing
  • Prize winners at the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition
Young Artist Programs
  • Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers
  • Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago-Ryan Opera Center Ensemble
  • Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera
  • Utah Opera Apprentice Artists Program
Summer Festivals
  • Aspen Music Festival and School
  • Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme
  • Chautauqua Music Festival
  • Music Academy of the West
  • SongFest
  • Tanglewood Music Center

Appearances with the Phoenix Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony, and Portland Baroque Orchestra.

Acceptances to post-graduate programs at Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and New England Conservatory, among others.

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