Students sing with the stars — New York’s Metropolitan Opera visits OCCC

March 7, 2016 Community Print Print

One stage, one Steinway grand piano and one rare opportunity for OCCC vocalists to receive personal instruction from professional opera singers from New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

In the Visual Performing Arts Center on Feb. 11, five students were paired with the five musicians that perform in the Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars Concert Series to gain specifics on how to perfect their operatic skills.

The artists that worked with students were Simone Osborne – soprano; Lori Guilbeau – soprano; Sarah Mesko – mezzo-soprano; Trevor Scheunemann – baritone; and Brent Funderburk – pianist.

Paired with these professional vocalists were students Eugene Ha, Lisa Lane, Jordan Longstreth, Stanley Hall and Keegan Rose.

One student at a time took the stage to sing an aria that had been prepared to showcase their skills, allowing the visiting masters to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses.

First, student vocalist Eugene Ha took the stage and sang while accompanied by piano.

Osbourne then approached the student to offer advice and respond to her performance. “Beautiful job,” said Osbourne. She then went on to offer a deeper look into the aria’s placement within the opera, its history, and the meaning of the foreign words in the song.

Osborne used words such as coy, lackadaisical, and graceful, to illustrate performance methods that would improve on stage presence, and emotionally convey diction.

Each student received tailored advice personalized for their particular performance needs.

Student vocalist Lisa Lane took stage with master adviser Guilbeau.

Guilbeau urged Lane to pay close attention to posture and breathing techniques. She

explained how these physicalities of the body lend support to professional performance.

“Singing is hard work,” Guilbeau said. “You should be sweating after you sing.”

Directly following the three critiques, the masters, including pianist Funderburk, assembled center stage for an informal Q and A with all that were in attendance.

When asked what is the biggest piece of advice you have for students interested in this genre of music, Mesko said, “Learn a language and use your time wisely.”

The touring artists answered questions for the next 15 to 20 minutes before returning to tutor another student.

Directly after the Q and A, students Hall and Rose joined Scheunemann and Funderburk for the second half of the critiquing.

When asked of Rose what he thought of the visiting artists’ abilities, he replied, “The best singing heard on this stage so far.”

Later that evening, these artists would perform in concert a series of songs that reflected the golden age of romantic opera, Funderburk said.

“I really enjoyed the space, theater and facility.” Scheunemann said of his experience at OCCC. “You guys should really be proud of what you’ve got here.”

For more information on upcoming concert series events, contact the box office at (405) 682-7579 or visit

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