Student Voices: Andrew Moore

In June, undergrad Andrew Moore (second from left) was among seven Mason Gross School students at the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) summer program in New York City. He and Mason Gross vocalists Shabnam Abedi, Kelly Miller, Eugenia Forteza, Nick Petroski, Megan Kalberer, and Linda Garcia (at left; Moore is second from left) participated in master classes and received coaching in, among other areas, vocal technique, interpretation, diction, as well as movement and acting. Here, Moore discusses how the program solidified his choice to carve out a career as a professional singer.

IVAI challenged me to learn more than just the notes on the page. Opera is so much more than that: It’s about the language, the composer, the stories, the history, the emotion, as well as the camaraderie between performers.

I was fortunate to study with renowned artists, including my voice teacher, Mignon Dunn, who performed at the Metropolitan Opera over more than three decades, as well as Joan Dornemann, the Met’s assistant conductor.

In the beginning I felt nervous about my lessons, because these teachers are used to working with actual opera stars at the Met, and here I was, 20 years old, going into my senior year of college. After a while, I felt more relaxed.

The faculty was sincerely interested in helping young artists. The program offered coaching sessions, and the teachers critiqued our performances. In a master class, among other things, Christian Šebek (who recently left Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera) helped me not to be afraid to hit the high F-sharp at the end of an aria.

But one of my favorite moments came in a coaching session with Joan. We were talking about my struggle with diction skills in French and German, and she said, “It is not about learning how to pronounce the words correctly; it is about knowing the language. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish. It’s like learning two new words a day for 365 days: That’s 730 words! You can do anything if you set your mind to it.” Since that talk, I have been trying to watch one opera each week, and I’ve registered for language courses online. Our exchange gave me hope that if I work hard, I can really make it.

Also, I was able to connect with other singers over similar concerns. It felt great because I remember thinking, “Finally, someone gets it!” I’m not alone in the whole, “What am I doing for the rest of my life?” phase. It felt nice to have my questions answered by someone who is or has experienced what I am going through.

IVAI definitely brought me closer to my dream. Being surrounded by so many opera singers with similar struggles made me realize that these people are really good, and they face the same issues as me. If they can do it, so can I.

Posted September 2016.