BY DANIELLE BETTENDORF – STAFF WRITER
Delores Ziegler, an internationally acclaimed opera singer, will be assisting music students this spring as a part of the Musicians-in-Residence program on Susquehanna’s campus. Susquehanna students will perform operatic pieces on April 29 and April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall.
The Musicians-in-Residence program was established by Martha Blessing, an alumna and 40-year employee of Susquehanna, to bring prominent musicians to campus and assist students in their studies and performances.
“We are in the middle of central Pennsylvania; we don’t have larger performing venues outside of Susquehanna,” said Greg Grabowski, assistant professor of music. “This provides a venue for some of these larger performances for the community. It helps our students, it helps the community for us to see and experience music in the larger world.”
“[The students] get a chance to work with a really experienced professional who has sung at every important opera house in the world,” said David Steinau, associate professor of music.
“We look every year for distinguished artists that we know would work really well with undergraduates,” Steinau continued. “This is our second year of our Musicians-in-Residence program. We choose three or four artists to be in residence with us for several days, or maybe even a week, and that culminates in some kind of public performance or master class.”
Grabowski said: “This year we had Valerie Naranjo, who does a lot of world music; Indian music, African music, Native American music and she’s doing a lot internationally. She was able to come work with the jazz band because she has a big jazz background, [and] she was able to work with our choirs and teach songs by rote.”
“We had the Vienna Piano Trio come just a couple of weeks ago: an international chamber opera ensemble—violin, cello and piano—and they did some coachings with some students: some voice students, some piano students, some other chamber ensembles, and then we culminated in a performance of them,” Grabowski continued.
Grabowski said, “[Ziegler] first came last semester: she was here with us when we did our auditions with the different singers, and she was able to help us pick and choose repertoire in a way that is appropriate for the orchestra and that could work with our different singers and find the best fit for them.”
“She had actually come back a couple of months ago when the singers were first learning their pieces, and so she was able to work with the singers; and not just musically but in how to depict this scene and having a vision for this staging, and then she’s coming again now that we’re nearing the end and fine-tuning this staging and the overall performance with the singers,” Grabowski continued. “She was with us from the very beginning, in the middle and she’ll be with us in the final coachings at the end.”
Grabowski said the performances will showcase multiple styles and composers of opera and provide a variety for both the students and the audience.
“What’s really great with the show is that we get to pick the greatest hits,” Grabowski said. “We have this variety from as early as Mozart to as late as Sondheim; we’ll have a bit of musical theatre, some Rodgers and Hammerstein, we’re going to have some Leonard Bernstein, we’ll have some Rossini, some Johann Strauss, some Verdi. We have this variety of music that we get to put out, and in these shorter numbers we’ll be able to have some duets. We’re going to be able to have some larger ensemble pieces. We’re going to have a couple combined works with their choirs so that we can feature these larger works. It’s really going to be like opera’s greatest hits, and we’ll have that sheer variety of the performance that I think the audience will absolutely love.”
Grabowski also praised the opportunity for students to perform larger works.
“I’m really excited by this opportunity for our students’ sake. We have a number of wonderful singers, and being able to do these larger operatic works, doing large choral orchestral works from these famous operas, you don’t always see that in a liberal arts school of our size,” Grabowski said. “This is just a great opportunity to show off our music program, and I’m really excited that we have this opportunity and that we’re going to continue to have these opportunities to show so many of these kind of operatic scenes. I’m excited for this and for how this can pave the way for future productions.”