The voice students are ready to say — or rather, sing — goodbye to one another, their teachers and the Chautauqua community.
The annual Voice Sing-Out will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in Fletcher Music Hall. Unlike the Sing-In at the beginning of the summer, which Donald St. Pierre said is tense no matter what the faculty does, the Sing-Out is more relaxed.
“People get to show what they learned over the course of the summer,” said St. Pierre, head vocal coach. “The performers are just there for a good time.”
At Thursday’s event, the students can perform any piece they choose. St. Pierre said the audience should “expect the unexpected.” While many students perform songs from standard repertoire, he said others choose fun, teasing, parody songs. St. Pierre said the selections are a surprise for him, too, up until the students take the stage.
After spending seven weeks training, performing and living together, the students are more comfortable around one another than they were when they began as strangers. Marlena Malas, voice chair, said that at the Sing-Out “there is an ease that you can feel in the air,” making the event fun for both the performers and the audience.
The Sing-Out, St. Pierre said, is also a way for the students and faculty to thank the community. It’s a chance for donors to the program and members of the community who have followed the Voice Program closely to see the progress in the students. Malas said that since the voice students have densely packed schedules in the summer session, the students develop greatly during the seven weeks. St. Pierre said that the students receive a semester’s, or even a year’s, worth of education during their seven weeks at Chautauqua.
“Everybody is singing better than when they arrived,” St. Pierre said. “They were good when they came, but they’re even better now.”
While studying at Chautauqua for the summer, the students are able to devote all of their attention to developing vocally. Malas said that unlike during the school year, the students don’t have to focus on academic coursework in addition to their vocal classes. She said they also don’t have to go grocery shopping or travel for performances. Everything they do while at Chautauqua is devoted to developing as an artist, and Malas said the work that’s been accomplished is amazing.
But Malas said she’s noticed growth in the students not only as vocalists, but in their maturity, too.
“To see the changes in their personalities, let alone in their vocal progress, the growth as human beings is wonderful,” Malas said. “I don’t know if it’s Chautauqua or the air or the magic that is here … but they seem to have thrived in so many ways.”