Vocal music student earns scholarship to study in Austria
Posted on May 21, 2014 by Christopher Thrall
3rd-Year student Evelyn Schaffer will attend the Franz Schubert Institute this summer on a full scholarship to study the German Lied.
Third-year B.Mus. (Voice) student Evelyn Schaffer of Bassano, Alberta, will attend the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien this summer on a full scholarship to study the German Lied. This is the first year that the Institute has extended this opportunity to undergraduate students.
According to Evelyn, the German Lied is an art song, using poetry from prominent German authors set to music. “You start by understanding the poetry as poetry,” Evelyn explains. “You research the poet’s life and work, understand the poem line by line, and then learn about how the music matches the poem. The music and words reinforce each other – and that is what is so interesting about the German Lied.”
Dr. Deen Larsen, the Institute’s director, visited Augustana Campus in March to deliver a lecture and work with Augustana students as part of the Second Viennese School week. When he contacted voice professor Kathleen Corcoran about the new undergraduate opportunities this summer, Kathleen suggested several of the workshop participants. The students were invited to write an essay outlining their perspective on the art of singing lieder, and to articulate how the summer program would advance their study and move them closer to their career goals.
The Schubert Institute faculty then chose Evelyn – and one student from north campus – from among the nominees. Funding has been supplied by the Schubert Institute, the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta and the University of Alberta’s Provost’s Office.
“I received a voicemail message from Kathleen a few weeks ago,” Evelyn recalls with a smile. “I was in the car with friends and she was congratulating me. I was stunned, and then freaking out a little, not hearing a thing about all the preparation I would have to do for the trip. I kept thinking I couldn’t believe it was me – I couldn’t believe they think I’m that good!”
Evelyn has been part of Kathleen Corcoran’s studio for three years, and credits her mentor for the variety of classical music exposure she has received. “Kathleen works hard to help us understand the essence of each type of music,” she adds, “the meaning of it and why we’re singing it. She makes sure our vocal technique is improving but that we also understand the interpretation behind the music.”
Working with Dr. Roger Admiral has also been a wonderful addition to her studies at Augustana. “He understands the musical accompaniment so well that he allows us to interpret it and connect with him to create this beautiful music,” she says.
Evelyn leaves for Austria on June 28 for the five-week program. She is nervous about her fluency in the language despite her year studying with Augustana’s German faculty, which was a requirement of her vocal performance degree. She will study researching the Lied, meet with artists in residence and attend masterclasses with visiting performers and scholars. In previous years, the Institute has welcomed 30 to 40 graduate students from around the world, including Julliard, McGill and London.
“It’s so exciting and so nerve-wracking,” Evelyn says. “I’m going to be in the presence of amazing artists I have looked up to for years!”
Because of the Institute’s focus, Evelyn expects to come out of the program much stronger in her understanding of the German Lied. She will gain experience working with different instructors and people who approach the source material in much different ways. What she learns, she will integrate into her studies during her graduating year at Augustana.
“And hopefully, if it goes well, I will make connections with different people in different institutions,” Evelyn says. “It may help my future auditions and, if I go on to a Master’s program, this experience will help set me apart from other applicants!”
To learn more about the Franz Schubert Institute and the German Lied, please visit www.schubert-institut.at
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