Title

UND Music's Wesley Lawrence is making an 'absurd medium' a very logical choice among students

Authors

Kortnie Evanson

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2-2014

Abstract

UND Music's Wesley Lawrence is making an 'absurd medium' a very logical choice among students

Wesley Lawrence is making a place for Opera at the University of North Dakota, inspiring young voices and impressing students and faculty alike.

In the two years that Lawrence has been at UND, he has already earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award for his contributions. To that, he says, "It was surprising and flattering." He attributes this accomplishment to the support of the faculty and students at UND's Department of Music.

Lawrence, lecturer of voice at UND, is a New Hampshire native, from an area just north of Boston. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati.

Since joining the Department of Music at UND, Lawrence, along with voice faculty members Royce Blackburn, Anne Christopherson, and Catherine Tlusty, has significantly grown interest in opera and enrollment in opera classes. For example, enrollment in Opera Workshop has more than quadrupled, from five students last year to 22 this year, and Lawrence expects enrollment to grow again next year.

Lawrence says one reason for the growth was a result of new initiatives that he created, including a course called Staging for Singers, and the Opera Club, where students can view and discuss opera productions together.

Lawrence says Opera is an "absurd medium," so you have to ease people into it by managing expectations. Then, if people know what they are in for, they can learn to find the "truth" within the medium of Opera.

As an instructor of voice, Lawrence uses art song and opera to help students train their voices. He also teaches Diction for Singers for students learning to sing in foreign languages.

Lawrence has become part of the North Dakota musical community by visiting high schools around the state. He says these visits are to build relationships with other directors, offer support, work with their students, and recruit.

Lawrence has also served as a guest conductor at the International Music Camp near Bottineau, N.D., an assistant Artistic Director of the Grand Forks Master Chorale, and a guest clinician at "Real Men Sing," a Minnesota festival for male voices.

Kortnie Evanson University & Public Affairs student writer

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