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Student sings the praises of Faculty's masterclass program

May 31, 2011

Student sings the praises of Faculty’s masterclass program
Francesco Milioto works with vocal student Natalie Donnelly and piano performance student Timothy Cheung during a recent Masterclass.

LyricSoprano opera singer Natalie Donnelly has already shared her passion for music with well-known international artists without leaving Western’s campus.

The second-year masters student in the Don Wright Faculty of Music participated in the masterclass program, which brings world-class artists to campus to work with selected students on their performance techniques.

“Many students won’t have the exposure of going to New York or Paris and hearing these world-renowned artists, conductors, lecturers and performers. The fact they come here to Western and work with us is just incredible,” says Natalie who started studying music at the age of three.

“Visiting artists and scholars are a key element in offering our students the best university music experience and education,” says Robert Wood, Dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music. As a current priority for the Faculty, a goal has been set to raise at least $1 million for visiting artists and scholars.

As part of that priority, the Faculty is working with a group of alumni to seek support for the creation of The Parsons-Poole Artist-in-Residence Program, to honour two former faculty members who were world-class performers, Clifford Poole and Margaret Parsons. Funding will be used to help attract an internationally recognized performer and master clinician each year to serve as an Artist-in-Residence. This program will provide further opportunity for students to learn from musicians who are at the height of their craft.

Masterclasses are funded through private donations as well as operating funds from the Faculty, bringing approximately 100 international visiting artists to Western each year. Past guests have included Adrianne Pieczonka, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Stephan Moccio, Ben Heppner, Salvatore Rabbio, June Millington and the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet.

Most recently, Natalie worked with Chicago conductor and pianist, Francesco Milioto, BMus’96. She says his no-nonsense approach was particularly helpful in developing her vocal technique.

Milioto, who credits Western for starting his career, says that masterclasses enhance education with real-world experience, giving students a taste of what it will be like when they step out beyond the Western gates.

“To be a successful artist you have to open yourself to other people’s ideas. You need to be able to see and hear and do and absorb from everywhere,” he says.

Natalie couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve grown as an artist in every sense. I am a better singer and performer and am more confident in my abilities. After I graduate, I hope to perform on international stages.”

This article appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of Impact Western
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