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October 2012: Stephanie Auld

Stephanie Auld presents her Senior Recital on October 12, 2012 at 8 p.m.</p><br /><br /><br />
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Senior Vocal Performance major Stephanie Auld hasn’t had the most direct path  through her degree program at VCU, but the journey has been full of life lessons and opportunities.

Stephanie transferred to VCU after one semester at George Washington University  in the spring of 2007 and began as a part-time student with a full  schedule of music and general education classes. She began full-time  study the next fall and immersed herself in classes, ensembles, and  additional singing and teaching opportunities in Richmond.

Three semesters later, she lost her in-state residency status due to her  parents’ move to North Carolina. “The best thing I ever did was to take a break from school, become financially independent, and grow up,”  Stephanie said. “It made me take school much more seriously.”

Now, with her senior recital only days away, Stephanie looks back on her  journey so far and is thankful for those people who have supported her  and opportunities that have shaped her as a singer and a person. Here  she discusses a few of those; there are certainly many more who have  helped her along her way!

Michelle Harman-Gulick and Melanie Day: “My voice teacher, Michelle Harman-Gulick, and coach, Melanie Day, have been the most influential in shaping my vocal and personal development  at VCU. They have helped me to become a confident person on stage and  off. ‘Diva’ isn’t about arrogance – it’s about taking care of yourself,  behaving professionally, and believing in yourself. I feel I have a  solid musical and dramatic foundation thanks to their patience,  challenges, and constant encouragement. I am thankful that every voice  faculty member at VCU has provided me with constructive criticism and  support throughout my undergraduate career.”

John Guthmiller: Stephanie sang in Commonwealth Singers under John Guthmiller’s baton  for seven semesters. “He is so intensely passionate and made me want to  work really hard; to be prepared and challenge myself.”

Daniel Myssyk: “I’ve learned so much from Mr. Myssyk in conducting class and singing  under his baton with VCU Opera. Seeing things from the conductor’s  perspective is so helpful in my own performance with a pianist or  instrumental ensemble!”

Sonia Vlahcevic: “I had Dr. V for Aural Skills V and VI, which is divided into atonal  sight-singing and rhythm-reading. When Dr. V teaches, she gives clear,  specific tools to help you accomplish great things out of these crazy,  crazy rhythms! It’s been so helpful in my own repertoire and in  sight-singing. Plus she has a great attitude!”

Doug Richards: “I was privileged to take his Topics class on Tchaikovsky’s 4th  Symphony and I was exposed to so much more music than I would have  ordinarily studied. He is so passionate about the music that is in our  lives and he made it clear to me that as a musician I have a duty to  prepare so much for this class and for all my other musical endeavors.”

James Wiznerowicz: “Dr. Wiznerowicz made theory accessible and showed me how it related to my own performance. I think my time in his classes really helped me to  get a better understanding of a composer’s intention. So often the  character, and the drama, and the story come from the music, in the way  that chords create tension and resolve — so it’s important to  understand the construction of the music. I wish I had taken more Theory classes!”

Working alongside VCU faculty: For more than four years, Stephanie has been a soloist and section leader  in the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s choir; singing for the Celtic  service and for Compline (which features Renaissance polyphony, and  Gregorian chant). She also teaches piano and voice lessons at local  music store Key Signatures.

“My work at St. Stephen’s has helped my sight-singing tenfold. [Vocal  faculty members] Jim Smith-Parham and Cynthia Donnell are soloists there too, and it is such a pleasure to be there with them in that context.  It’s like going to another voice lesson! I look over and think ‘I’m  going to correct my alignment!’ because they are so good at  demonstrating what they teach.”

Sassy Chambermaids and other characters: “This past May I was Laetitia in VCU Opera’s production of The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti. The character is such a sassy lady — so much sassier than I am! It’s so much fun to play someone on stage that you’re not. For my senior recital, I’m singing some art songs by  Poulenc that are actually lusty 1940 gypsy bar songs. I love that I get  to go places on stage that make me think “Oh my God, my parents are in  the audience!” But I just remind myself that it’s not me, it’s the  character!”

Spacebomb Records: Stephanie was part of the Spacebomb Choir that sang on fellow VCU Music alum Matthew E. White’s debut album Big Inner, which received excellent reviews from media outlets large and small. “I became invested in it because everyone in that band was so excited  about it and the music that Matt wrote and [VCU alum] Trey Pollard  orchestrated was so complex and beautiful. And I’d never sang anything  that people danced to before!”

Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival: “This summer, I sang at the Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival. The Opera  Masterclass Series was run by Peter Mark, founder of VA Opera and Lyric  Opera of Virginia. He and Ben Spierman [of the Bronx Opera] led a week  of master classes and concerts. It was fantastic to sing with other  young artists and mid-career singers!”

Stephanie’s journey is really just beginning. She is applying to graduate school  for a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and hopes to pursue dual  career in opera/classical singing and teaching voice/diction.

She will check off one of the last items on her VCU Music to-do list when  she presents her senior recital on Friday, October 12 at 8 p.m. in the  James W. Black Music Center Recital Hall. She is excited to present the  repertoire that she’s worked on for so long, but most of all, she is  pleased to dedicate her recital to her mother, whose strength and  encouragement in the midst of cancer treatment, has been inspiring.

–Tiffanie S. Chan