How did you come to lead this Voice programme with Juilliard?
I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a vast variety of experiences, not only as a performer but as a teacher as well, and to learn from some of the best people in our industry. It's been my dream for some time to use what I've learned throughout my career to build a training program for young singers that puts it all together.
When I was invited to help create such a program with Nord Anglia Education and Juilliard, it really was like a dream come true. That is what lead to me being the lead artist faculty for the Voice programme this summer, where I will be also teaching performance techniques.
All the faculty were chosen through conversation with Juilliard to gather experts in their fields who were not only wonderful artists, but people who love working with high school age students.
Can you tell readers about the Voice programme? What was it created to do?
Following the creation of the Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard programme in Switzerland — where students can study a wide variety of disciplines — an idea was sparked to have a specialized Voice programme in the United States and voila, our program was born!
Many teenagers interested in building a career or joyful hobby in singing are mystified about how to lay a foundation that will serve them for the rest of their lives. The purpose of this programme is to make sure that, by the end of the two weeks, each student knows what he or she must do to continue growing their skills so they can enjoy singing for years to come.
Besides enjoying a wonderful time with their peers, performing, being in an inspirational setting, and enjoying the teachings of a brilliant and warm-hearted group of faculty, the expected outcome for the students is that they will know how to practice so that they can continue to grow and become the artists they wish to be. Teachers can guide students on the path, but at the end of the day it is up to students to engage in deliberate practice to grow.
Can you touch on a key highlight that students can look forward to?
I'm so excited for the comprehensive program that we've put together for students that it's hard to choose just one aspect! Depending on a student's unique interests, there's a highlight for everyone.
Overall, the programme will be very intense. Two weeks is a short amount of time to lay a foundation and way of practicing that will serve you for a lifetime! Students begin each morning with a 9 a.m. movement/body awareness class and will work pretty much straight through until dinner at 6 p.m., with an hour for lunch and time to practice. There will even be concerts, master classes, and Q&A's in the evenings.
One of our goals is to begin the process of students understanding that singing is about so much more than just vocal production. The voice lessons will be a major highlight, but there is also language and diction, acting, movement, body-awareness, how to deal with nerves, how to practice, how to manage your time, how to present yourself in an audition... all of these are a part of a life in singing, and all will be covered.
I'm also confident the students will enjoy each of our exceptional faculty members.
What kinds of students are you expecting to join? What about those interested but without the appropriate skill?
We have students from ages 14-18 with a wide variety of skill levels, from new-found interest in singing to ready to audition for college and conservatory programs. The main requirements we're looking for is a love of music and singing and an eagerness and openness to learn!
Could you explain the CSA and CCP tracks?
The CSA track will focus on musical theatre repertoire. The CCP track will focus on the classical art song repertoire, which is what students will need to apply to classical voice programs in college and conservatory.
The emphasis on repertoire dictates the layout of the programmes: with musical theatre there are more group numbers and more dance, so CSA students will have more dance and group classes, as well as instruction on musical theatre style and audition techniques. The art songs required for college and conservatory auditions are solo pieces in foreign languages, so the CCP students will have more individual instruction, as well as a class in Italian Diction and repertoire.
What is one thing you would say to students on the fence about joining? And similarly, to parents?
Having been a participant in and teacher of several top training programs for singers, I think this program offers a truly unique opportunity for singers. By creating an entirely new program, we were able to really think about the necessary skills young singers need to acquire to be successful today, and we built the entire experience accordingly. Few places will offer a programme tailor-made to the current singing world, at such a high level, all delivered in such a beautiful place by Juilliard Artist Faculty.
Matthew Patrick Morris has performed with the American Repertory Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Barbican Theatre on The West End, Les Bouffes du Nord in Paris, Piccolo Teatro in Milan, New York City Opera, The Kennedy Center, Santa Fe Opera, the National Tour of Scrooge: The Musical, on television in Law & Order, and in the feature film The Producers.
As the associate artistic director of SongFest, Matthew directed the vocal performance programs and created a new curriculum, innovating tailor-made courses for complete singing-actors from undergraduate through professional levels. He is currently director of the Opera Workshop at Brooklyn College, teaches the Professional Development Workshop at Bard College Graduate Vocal Arts, and training to be an Alexander Teacher at the Balance Arts Center with Ann Rodiger. BM voice (Juilliard) and MM vocal arts (Bard College Conservatory).