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UW Voice Program gains new muscle with arrival of soprano Cyndia Sieden 

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on September 29, 2014 - 12:20pm

The addition of acclaimed soprano Cyndia Sieden to the University of Washington Voice Program this fall bolsters a faculty already internationally recognized for achievements in research and performance.

Agile in a variety of musical forms from baroque to classical to contemporary, Sieden has earned a reputation as one of the leading sopranos of our time in a string of performances in the world’s great opera houses, including the Munich Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Met, Paris's Opéra Bastille, the Wiener Staatsoper, Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu, Brussels's La Monnaie, and London's Covent Garden and English National. Her highly praised Metropolitan Opera debut as Berg's Lulu quickly led to reengagement in 2008 for Die Zauberflöte's Queen of the Night, one of her signature roles.

Sieden will reprise that role at UW in May 2015 when she reigns as Queen of the Night in the UW and ensemble-in-residence Pacific MusicWorks’ co-production of The Magic Flute.

The UW’s music students will further benefit from Sieden’s appointment as a part-time artist-in-residence. On the academic side of her appointment, she will teach studio voice and masterclass to UW voice majors.

Recent research and performance activities by Sieden’s new UW colleagues reveal a breadth of specialized focus in areas such as classical voice, voice science and pedagogy, and choral conducting.

  • Thomas Harper, associate professor of voice and director of the opera workshop at UW, was one of nine American teachers instructing voice at the six-week American Institute of Musical Studies program (AIMS) in Graz, Austria this summer. AIMS is one of the oldest and largest summer vocal music programs dedicated to preparing young singers for professional auditions in Europe.
  • Kari Ragan, full-time artist-in-residence in voice, is a nationally renowned expert on voice science and pedagogy. Over the past year, Ragan presented a workshop at the Voice Foundation Symposium in Philadelphia entitled "The Pedagogical Basis for Vocal Cool-Down Exercises," and at the National Association of Teachers of Singing conference in Boston entitled, "A Practical Guide for Working with Voice Injuries."
  • Giselle Wyers,chair of voice and choral activities, was guest conductor at the American Festival of Arts in Houston, Texas in June, and will serve as one of fourteen conducting fellows to visit Sweden for the Swedish Choral Directors Association’s Fall 2015 conference. 

  Further, the appointment last fall of early music specialist Stephen Stubbs to the UW faculty and his production company Pacific MusicWorks as an ensemble-in-residence at the School of Music has interjected new opportunities for innovative collaboration into a program with a history of excellence dating back to the 1930s, when the UW’s opera productions introduced the art form to the music patrons of Seattle. In producing high-caliber professional opera productions in an academic setting, as PMW and UW did last spring with their production of Handel’s Semele, a new educational model emerges which involves UW voice and choral students performing alongside professional opera performers in real-world laboratory/performance settings.

 Such fresh approaches to the budgetary and artistic challenges facing both arts organizations and higher education have not escaped the attention of Seattle’s arts and political leaders, as evidenced by the recent Mayor’s Arts Award for Raising the Bar, presented to Stubbs in August 2014.  The recognition pays homage not only to the artistic excellence of Stubbs’ endeavors, but also their capacity for enhancing arts performance and education in our region and beyond.

 “We are thrilled to welcome Cyndia Sieden to our voice faculty,” says School of Music director Richard Karpen. “Her appointment—and that of colleague Stephen Stubbs—add wonderful new strengths to our faculty body and herald exciting educational and artistic possibilities for our students and the greater community.”