Symposium explores Art and Science of the Performing Voice

Professional singers study repertoire, diction, phrasing and dynamics, but how many also study ways to ensure the long-term health and vitality of their voices?

At the University of Washington, Kari Ragan of the UW School of Music Voice faculty, a certified singing voice specialist, has been engaged in collaborative research in vocal health with faculty members and clinicians from the University’s School of Music, Otolaryngology, and Speech and Hearing Sciences departments.   

They, along with scholars, musicians and practitioners from around the country, will gather at the University of Washington this spring to explore research and discussion related to the care of the performing voice. 

The Art and Science of the Performing Voice, a two-day symposium set for April 22 and 23 at the UW, unites scholars and practitioners focused on the integration of art, science, and medicine in the study and health management of the singing voice. Along with discussion and presentations, the symposium features a concert by renowned Metropolitan Opera singer (and UW alumna) Michaela Martens Friday April 22 at Meany Theater.

Organized by a group of University of Washington faculty members and clinical providers from the departments of Speech & Hearing Sciences, Laryngology Division within Otolaryngology, and the School of Music, the symposium is made possible with funding through the UW’s Bergstrom Award for Art and Science, awarded annually by the College of Arts and Sciences to fund faculty projects bridging the intersection between art and science. Lead faculty members involved in the group include Ragan (School of Music) Martin Nevdahl (UW Speech and Hearing Sciences), and Al Merati (UW Otolaryngology). 

Symposium highlights include talks and sessions led by more than a dozen scholars and practitioners from around the country.  Keynote speakers for the conference are Ingo Titze, director of the National Center for Voice and Speech, and Lynn Helding, Associate Professor of Practice in Vocal Pedagogy at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

Titze is one of the world’s leading voice scientists whose research has significantly advanced our understanding of how voice is produced. His April 22 keynote, “Frontiers in Voice Habilitation: Solving Future Problems Across Disciplines,” addresses challenges for vocalists in a rapidly changing world.

Helding, associate editor of the Journal of Singing and author of the journal’s “Mindful Voice” column, is engaged in research in the cognitive, neuro- and social sciences as they relate to music teaching, learning and performance. Her April 23 Keynote, “The Future of Science is Art,” addresses the importance of creative thought and artistic output in giving voice to collective mysteries outside the reach of science.

A full schedule of events and speakers as well as more detail about the symposium, can be found at

TIckets and more detail about the Michaela Martens performance, Friday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., Meany Theater, are available here.

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