For a young soprano, freshly graduated from Oberlin Conservatory, the opportunity to do a Fulbright Study/Research grant in Vienna, the capital of classical music, is a life-changing experience.
I am studying as a master’s student at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (MDW) in the MA Lied und Oratorium program under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Vácha and Prof. Anton Scharinger. My project also involves researching the vocal pedagogical methods of the Austrian school of singing under the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Christian Herbst and Dr. Ian Howell, exploring whether the convergence of national vocal methodologies can preserve national identity features and what role technology can play in this process.
My first observation about the curriculum was the amount of attention placed on body awareness and health. One of the classes, “Atem- und Körperschulung,” is required for all four years of bachelor’s study and is a movement training class for singers to exercise, connect with, and learn about their bodies, which are, in fact, our instruments.
The most striking aspect here is that the musical educational system is mainly performance opportunity-based. Its major focus seems to be on practical, hands-on, work-in-the-field experience, which is extremely important for musicians. I discovered this from the beginning, as in my first week at MDW I was cast as Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel and also got involved in MDW’s “Bibliosphäre: Die Kugel der Zeit” Wien Modern Festival at the end of October.
I am very much looking forward to delving even deeper into my classes and research while I am performing and focusing on gaining deeper awareness of my body! See the links and descriptions below, and follow my journey: https://viennesevoice.wordpress.com/.
Upcoming performances 2018:
From December 10-15 in Schlosstheater Schönbrunn, MDW will perform the children’s opera Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck as an abridged 60-minute version during the week for schools. Theodora Ivanova Nestorova, soprano, performs the role of Gretel: https://www.mdw.ac.at/gesangundmusiktheater/?PageId=126 & https://www.mdw.ac.at/veranstaltung?v=2419753