Emily Dirks ‘18, alumni guest lecturer in voice, and Nicholas Shaneyfelt, assistant professor of music, have been awarded the H. George Anderson & Jutta F. Anderson Faculty Development award. This endowed award supports the professional development projects of faculty in the early years of their career. It facilitates scholarship, research and creative and artistic work in a wide range of disciplines, recognizing that such work contributes to the vitality necessary for strong undergraduate liberal arts education.
Dirks utilized the award to participate in Opera in the Ozarks, a highly regarded eight-week summer opera training program in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. After an extensive national audition process, those selected to the program receive lessons with industry leaders and participate in several workshops and performances. Dirks believes taking part in the program will not only further develop her own artistry, but that of her students as well.
“Participating in Opera in the Ozarks allowed me to serve as a role model to my students who are at Luther to move their careers forward,” said Dirks. “My involvement in masterclasses, lessons, coachings and workshops has led to meaningful connections with industry professionals. Developing a widespread network is an essential part of assisting students in shaping their careers, especially when they seek acceptance into post-graduate and young artist programs.”
Dirks took away from the program advanced teaching techniques that she will apply to her studio teaching at Luther. “I have learned quite a lot about kinesthetic voice teaching techniques. This includes using yoga, aerobics, resistance bands and other methods to engage the body while singing and releasing tension in the voice. I will certainly be using these pedagogical techniques with my voice students in the fall.”
Shaneyfelt received the Anderson award for his project researching art songs by composers of color. This summer, Shaneyfelt will peruse catalogs, anthologies, websites and scholarly works, resulting in greater accessibility to a more diverse repertoire for his faculty colleagues and students to study and perform.
“I hope to find songs that represent a spectrum of works: those that are firmly grounded in ‘traditional’ art song, those that strike a balance between tradition and novelty and those that break ground entirely.”
The funds of the award will go towards obtaining scores by composers, which will then become accessible for the entire Luther community to use. For Shaneyfelt, this research is a way to diversify the repertoire of his studio, and to give recognition to composers outside “the canon” of traditional art song composers like Schubert and Schumann.
“Before I came to Luther, I was already looking for ways to diversify and deepen my repertoire knowledge of composers of color, primarily as a performer. Now, as an educator, I feel an urgency to expand this knowledge for the benefit of my students, who, as aspiring educators and performers, also feel this urgency in an attempt to be relevant and vital 21st century musicians.”
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