Ten of the best vocal students from across the United States, including three from Mobile, will travel to Pisa, Italy this April for the Italian Opera Study Abroad Program, founded by International (IOSA) Soprano Lynn Mackie of Mobile.
Mackie launched IOSA in May 2000 to offer college students at historically black colleges and universities the opportunity to study classical voice, Italian diction, stage performance, and to perform on the world stage of Opera in Italy.
Only ten slots are allotted every year for students to participate in this one- month study abroad program. The students are selected based on their audition, a challenging interview, and character assessment.
This year for the first time ever, a 12 -year- old won a position to study. She is Burns Middle School student Maddison Hill. The other two Mobile students are Devon Mason of Bishop State College and Ashleigh Brown of Talledega College. “Maddison was selected because of her incredibly advanced voice and commitment to study. Her mother Charvon Hill will accompany us,” says Mackie.
Mackie says this educational and cultural program propels singers to a higher career performance- level by educating them in vocal technique and giving them an international performance experience in one of the world’s most exciting and educational places to study classical music Italy. The students are trained by internationally renowned Soprano Maria Billeri, famous throughout Italy for her cutting edge style of teaching vocal technique. She performs for many opera companies across Italy and teaches the brightest up and coming opera singers across that nation.
Maria will be assisted by Mackie and Dr. Wayne Barr, Director of Choral Activities at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. He is also Co-Director of the The Italian Opera Study Abroad Program. The IOSA students will also participate in Mackie and Barr’s combined course, “Singing with Soul” in conjunction with the Bonamici Music School and its students. The classes will be filled with workshops, individual lessons, private practice sessions, and performances in several concerts. “The students study with world renowned vocal coaches, opera singers, and professors. They will meet people from around the world, travel to various cities and countries in Europe and explore the rich history it has to offer. They will actually perform in Pisa, Italy and throughout the Tuscany Region,” says Mackie.
Also teaching with the group is Legendary International Jazz Saxophonist Joe Lewis of Mobile. Mr. Lewis will teach and direct a course in Jazz musicianship and fundamentals with Mackie as well as part of a vocal course called “Soulful Singing”. He too will give performances across Italy.
To get a taste of the groups’ performances and style, join them at a special benefit concert 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14th at Harvest Church in Mobile. The money raised will be used to help benefit the young talented group of future Opera Singers study and perform in Italy this Summer.