Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek has always loved performing a cappella. Now, as a music instructor adjusting to digital teaching without a live piano accompaniment, this passion has come in handy.
“Being ‘forced’ to work a capella with students is actually wonderful because (they) don’t always like doing that,” she said. “Not all singers are happy singing solo a cappella. It really brings up a new way of thinking about the piece, a new way of hearing it and a new way of interpreting it.”
Horner-Kwiatek, a former member of all-female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 and an instructor at Juilliard and Princeton University, is Chautauqua Opera’s Week Three Guest Artist. She has spent the past week meeting with the Young Artists and leading a five-person masterclass.
I know so many people that have zero income right now, and it is really, really scary,” she said. “I hope that people, as things start opening up, don’t get lost in their own rhythms and their own lives again, and become a little more aware of people suffering. Whether that’s artists out of work, or immigrants unable to pay their rent at this time, or the Black Lives Matter movement. I just want to keep that conversation alive and going.”
She will appear in conversation with General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood and featured Young Artists Kelly Guerra and Hilary Grace Taylor for this week’s Concerts, Cocktails and Conversations with Chautauqua Opera. The event will air at 5 p.m. EDT Monday, July 13, on the Virtual Porch.
This is Horner-Kwiatek’s second year in a row teaching at Chautauqua.
“The Young Artists they gather are really the most wonderful young people,” she said. “Not only just in terms of their voice — they’re amazing singers — but really wonderful human beings, wonderful artists, wonderful collaborators. Whether it’s in person or virtual, it’s a really enriching experience.”
She commends the Opera staff for putting together the online Young Artist Program.
“All the hats that I have are off,” she said.
Guerra was excited to work with Horner-Kwiatek.
“I had heard about Jacqueline’s work for a really long time,” she said. “I really admire how she built her own career in her own way.”
The full masterclass will be available to watch on demand starting at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, July 14, on the Virtual Porch.
Besides answering audience questions and screening masterclass highlights, Guerra and Taylor will premier their a cappella songs for Composer-in-Residence Frances Pollock’s new song cycle.
This was Taylor’s first time performing an a cappella piece.
“It’s a different kind of vulnerable experience,” she said. “I’m excited (to) maybe do more a cappella, because it’s a reflection of what this time has been; being alone and having to find (your) voice without the help of others.”
The pieces, written by librettist Jerry Dye and composed by Pollock, serve as snapshots of the Young Artists’ lives amidst the uncertainty and turmoil of the last few months.
“I love contemporary music and I loved being part of the conversation, and having the piece really be about this time and my experience,” Guerra said. “What I love about (Pollock) is her willingness to just play with rhythm. I told her I was a runner and she made this fantastic piece about running and the cadence of running.”
Guerra hopes that Chautauquas who watch this event will keep the opera singers and artists across the country in their thoughts.
“I know so many people that have zero income right now, and it is really, really scary,” she said. “I hope that people, as things start opening up, don’t get lost in their own rhythms and their own lives again, and become a little more aware of people suffering. Whether that’s artists out of work, or immigrants unable to pay their rent at this time, or the Black Lives Matter movement. I just want to keep that conversation alive and going.”