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Music Academy of the West - Voice Program

Music Academy of the West - Voice Program

Under the direction of celebrated mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, the Music Academy Voice Program offers intensive training for young singers who demonstrate the potential for careers in music. Fellows are coached in singing technique, diction, interpretation, style, and presentation, and explore the literature of opera, musical theatre, and song.

Admission to the Voice Program is limited to 23 singers. Applicants must be 18 years of age prior to the start of the Summer Festival, and no older than 34 years of age through the Festival’s conclusion.

Singers accepted into the Voice Program receive opera assignments within the enrollment materials, and opera scenes assignments are distributed approximately 3 months before the Summer School and Festival begins. Each singer is expected to arrive ready for coaching with all repertoire memorized. Vocal assignments are based on admissions auditions but are subject to change according to Fellows’ progress during the Academy session.

Opera & Opera Scenes

Academy Voice Fellows, coached by Voice Program faculty, present a fully staged opera production at Santa Barbara’s 1,600-seat Granada Theatre each Summer Festival. 2015’s production will be Rossini’s Cinderella. In addition, Fellows perform in two semi-staged opera scenes with piano accompaniment.

Individual Lessons

Each Voice and Vocal Piano Fellow receives private weekly lessons from members of the faculty. In addition to their own lessons, Vocal Piano Fellows participate in the private lessons of the Voice Fellows.

Studio Classes

Scheduled periodically throughout the eight-week program, studio classes unite all Voice and Vocal Piano Fellows with faculty for in-depth sessions on aspects of technique, style and interpretation via performance, analysis, constructive critique, and discussion.


Fellows perform and receive instruction from Voice and Vocal Piano Program faculty in the presence of an audience. Classes address the needs of both singer and pianist and cover a wide range of styles, nationalities, and periods of opera and song.

Foreign Language Coaching

Voice Fellows receive individual instruction in German, French, and Italian diction throughout the eight-week program.

Special Workshop: The Singer’s Career

Each summer a distinguished member of the vocal profession leads Academy Voice Fellows in a unique workshop covering issues central to the rich, complex life of the professional singer. Working in group and individual sessions, singers explore such topics as audition techniques, repertoire choice, and finding a manager.

Marilyn Horne Song Competition

One of the most popular events of the Summer Festival is the prestigious Marilyn Horne Song Competition. A showcase for Academy singers and vocal pianists, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition awards two first prizes, one to a singer and one to a vocal pianist, each of whom must demonstrate both excellence in the performance of song repertoire and an exceptional gift for audience communication. First-prize winners will be presented in three recitals the following spring. Recital locations: Hahn Hall (Santa Barbara), Dallas, and New York City.

Other Performance Opportunities

Fellows are frequently offered other solo and ensemble perfomance opportunities including Picnic Concerts (Friday evening Fellow recitals), Santa Barbara Museum concerts (Thursday afternoon recitals), and vocal chamber performances.

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