News and Events
Vocal Students and Alumni Share Their Talents Worldwide
by Jovie Baclayon
When Margaret Lane first visited Pepperdine’s campus, she thought that swimming was her best ticket in. “I dropped off my resume and videotape with the swimming and diving team thinking that I’d never hear back from them,” says Lane, whose friends call her Maggie. “Three months later, I found out that I was one of the top recruits by Nick Rodlonoff, head coach of the swim team.”
It wasn’t until her second visit that she auditioned as a music major. Lane had always sung in the choir, but began working with a voice instructor in January 2000. When she received another scholarship for singing, she decided to sing and swim her way through Pepperdine for the first two-and-a-half years. In the end, however, her passion for singing won out.
“To partake in the offers and be a performer here, I needed to stop diving because the competitions were at the exact same time as the opera,” explains Lane, a senior double majoring in Spanish and music. “It was so unfortunate because I liked doing both. Diving was so much fun, but I was able to focus on singing and become a real performer.” As a result of her dedication, Lane continued developing her talent in the choir and select ensembles, and was one of the lead sopranos in Pepperdine’s spring 2005 opera Cosi fan tutte.
This summer, Lane will be studying in Austria at the University of Miami’s prestigious Salzburg Summer Program. Ever since her experience in Summer 2004 with Pepperdine’s Summer Music Program in Heidelberg, Lane was eager to return to Europe. So when Pepperdine professor Melanie Smith-Emelio told her about the University of Miami’s summer program, Lane did not hesitate to send in an audition tape.
Lane will spend five weeks in Salzburg, Austria, learning from eminent scholars, performers and internationally recognized musicians, with emphasis on the “German Lied,” which is the German art song. Students will attend master classes, concerts, special events and workshops, as well as tour the country. “It’s really exciting to know that I’m going to work with amazing professionals who have had great careers,” says Lane, who leaves July 18. She hopes to meet up with former Pepperdine student LaShawna Ngadiuba, now pursuing her singing career in Europe. Ngadiuba will be studying at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, just a few hours from Salzburg.
Lane is just one of many vocal students and alumni shining brightly in local, national and international venues. While alumnae Jessica Rivera and Jessica Tivens prepared and performed their roles in the New West Symphony’s 2005 production of Bizet’s Carmen, members of Seaver College’s Flora Thornton Opera Program earned awards and accolades for their work. Senior soprano Christin Wismann was awarded $1,000 for continued vocal study by the Village Voices Chorale, which singles out promising local singers each year for encouragement. A similar award was given to junior mezzo-soprano Davia Bandy in 2004.
Senior Kelsie Villahermosa was one of three top winners in the recent vocal competition sponsored by the Pasadena Fine Arts Club. She received a $1,000 award and was featured in an award winners’ concert sponsored by the organization in June. Earlier in 2005, Villahermosa was one of six national finalists in the National Opera Association vocal competition in New York.
Other graduates are continuing or have recently completed study at some of the nation’s premier graduate schools and conservatories. These include bass-baritone Eric Downs who is at the Yale Graduate Opera Program; baritone Daniel Peretto at Northwestern; baritone Brian Speck at Rice; mezzo-soprano Evelyn Trester at Peabody Institute; and mezzo-soprano Angela Rasmussen Price at USC.
After completing her studies in December, Lane plans to take a break in the spring and apply for graduate school. “We have the best education in the world for music in the United States. All the best singers come from here, and the most successful always start in Europe and then gravitate toward the United States,” says Lane, who will focus on performance, but hasn’t ruled out other areas such as art administration or conducting. “They need so many musicians out there in so many areas, so there’s always an opportunity,” she says. “The only thing you have to do is take a chance.”