Applied voice study at Luther College is the largest area of concentration in the music major. Distinguished voice faculty in ten voice studios serve more than 300 students. Participation in one of the five choral ensembles is a requirement for the more than 100 music majors who elect vocal performance as their area of study. A required solo recital is performed in the third or fourth year of applied study; a second recital is possible with permission from the applied instructor. In addition to the core music course requirements, students have the opportunity to take courses in diction, vocal literature, vocal coaching, and participate as soloists in oratorio and opera performances.
Oratorio performance is part of a long tradition at Luther College. In the spring semester of alternating years, the orchestra, choral, and vocal areas collaborate in the presentation of a major work. Students may audition for solos in many of these. Recent performances have included Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel's Messiah, Brahms' Requiem, Bach’s St. John Passion, and a commissioned work, Luther Mass, by Stephen Paulus.
Opera courses at Luther are designed to help students develop the craft of singing and acting in tandem. Each spring the music department presents a fully-staged and costumed opera production. Students not only participate as performers, but they also learn about technical aspects of opera as theater. Recent opera productions include Aaron Copland's The Tender Land (2019), Mozart's Così fan tutte (2018), and Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers (2017). The spring opera productions are accompanied by orchestra in alternating years; most are sung in English or English translations. In addition, students study and perform scenes from opera, operetta, and musical theatre in the fall opera workshop course and the January-term first-year seminar.
The Alan R. and Sally J. Brudos Family Prize for Opera Performance ($6,000) is an auditioned scholarship award. It is presented each year to an outstanding junior voice student with the stated intent of pursuing opera as a career path. Coinciding with the Brudos auditions, The David Greedy Memorial Scholarship ($1,750) is also awarded to an outstanding junior singer with career aspirations. Additionally, the Darlene (Peterson) Jones and Robert Jones Scholarship ($3,500) is awarded annually to a student, selected by the voice faculty, who is cast in a leading role in the spring opera production. Various other scholarships are available to prospective students through auditions prior to attending Luther College. These, like the above course offerings and applied lessons, are available to non-music majors as well.
Many Luther College alumni perform with major opera houses, both internationally and domestically. Others attend distinguished graduate programs in music, and go on to teach in university, college, and public and private education positions. Current students are able to learn from these distinguished alumni and other leading professionals who present recitals, master classes, and clinics on campus. These visiting teachers and singers are associated with graduate schools, young artist programs, and opera companies. Their presence gives our students tangible contact to the wider singing world.
Past guests have included:
Stephen Austin (University of North Texas)
Karen Brunssen ‘75 (Northwestern University)
Eric Cutler ’99
Michael Dean (University of California at Los Angeles)
Linda DiFiore (University of California at Santa Barbara, University of North Texas)
Aaron Judisch ‘99
Martin Katz (vocal coach/collaborative pianist; University of Michigan)
Eric Melear ‘95 (Houston Grand Opera, Associate Music Director)
Caroline Worra ’91
John Wustman (vocal coach/collaborative pianist; University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana)