Kate Aldrich Jan 2018

Opera singer Kate Aldrich, right, coaches Lincoln Academy senior Phoebe Pugh during a Master Class offered to advanced vocal students in the LA Lincolnaires.

On January 10, professional opera singer and Lincoln Academy graduate Kate Aldrich conducted a master class with LA vocal students for the second year in a row.

“It’s a great opportunity to have Kate with us for the afternoon to work with my voice students,” said Lincoln Academy Choir teacher Beth Preston. She described the exercise this way: “in a master class, all the students watch and listen as the ‘master’ teaches one student at a time. Each singer performed a single piece and then Kate spent twenty minutes or so giving them ideas about technique and interpretation.”

“It was a very useful experience,” said senior Phoebe Pugh, who worked with Aldrich on Italian art song, “Caro mio ben.” “I have worked with a lot of different music teachers, and [Aldrich] has a very positive outlook and a lot of really good comments about my voice and ways that improve that I have never heard before.”

Senior Miles Jackson also worked with Aldrich on a piece he is preparing for a college audition: “It was fantastic to have a vocal lesson from a professional opera singer; her insights will be very helpful to me.”

Aldrich graduated from Lincoln Academy in 1992 and has gone on to become and internationally-renowned opera singer who performs on stages all over Europe, Asia, and the US. In 2017 she moved her permanent residence from Italy to Alna, where she lives with her husband, a professional violinist, and young daughter, but she continues travel and perform around the world. In the past year Aldrich has taken time both to teach and perform locally.

“Any time we can learn from a different source or a new perspective it pushes us, and makes us think in new ways,” said Aldrich of her teaching philosophy. “My approach at times is perhaps beyond what the students think they are capable of, because I believe that they aren’t aware of their own abilities. At their ages their instruments can do almost anything. It is their own insecurities and self judgment that gets in their way. I like to push past that and make it okay to feel like a total fool so we can clear that junk out of the way.”

Aldrich’s teaching is very loose, and even with her potentially intimidating resume, she puts students at ease with her humorous approach and the physicality of her style. She often sings along with students, demonstrating when to breath, or how to emphasize certain parts of the piece.

“It was great to meet someone who had become successful in a career I might consider,” said junior Jonah Daiute, who worked with Aldrich on a piece that he sang for All State auditions. “The pointers I received from Kate were very helpful and informative and gave me better insight on the things I need to consider when I am singing.”

For her part, Aldrich said that working with high school students is “exciting. Listening to real raw untempered talent isn’t something we hear often in our industry. We hear young but trained voices, or we hear seasoned professionals at varying degrees. The high school students are just beginning their training, so in a sense we are hearing their ‘true voice’ now. It’s really exciting to watch them discover new concepts in making their instruments work, things that I take for granted, and watching them develop their musicality right before our eyes.”

Beth Preston, who has been teaching at Lincoln Academy since 1994, arranged for Aldrich’s master class for her advanced vocal students. She said, “watching Kate always informs my own teaching, as she reinforces concepts and also explains new ways to think about things.”

Aldrich admires the dedication and talent she found in Lincoln Academy’s music program. “The [LA] music department is no question at a very high level, and the students seem really devoted to their work within it. There is an openness to the students in their desire to learn and discover more, that perhaps wasn’t so pronounced when I was a student. I was really impressed with the talent, which wasn’t inferior in any way to some of the students I have worked with in masterclasses at colleges and universities.”