at CalArts

I have been teaching at the California Institute of the Arts since September 1991. When I first arrived at CalArts, I rebuilt its Voice Program from scratch; recently, with the help of colleagues, I re-invented it to be a truly unique program in which students are guided toward gaining the tools, techniques and creative ideas with which to develop and contextualize their own work, regardless of musical style or direction. Now called “VoiceArts,” the program is designed for creative artists whose primary means of expression is the voice—for those who wish to develop both their unique artistic voice and their vocal mechanism. For more information about the CalArts VoiceArts Program, click here. To hear interviews with me from several years ago on voice study, singers, and the CalArts Voice Program, among other topics, click here. For links to web pages of current and former students, click here.

I have served in numerous capacities at CalArts, while also running my own private voice studio for many years. My primary role is to teach private lessons to undergraduate and graduate voice majors and to doctoral and MFA students in the Performer-Composer and Interschool programs. In addition to lessons and subjects listed below, I also played significant administrative roles for many years. More information about my administrative work can be found here.

Professor of Voice  (1991–present)
Doctoral Faculty (2009–present)
Mel Powell Chair in Music (2013–2016)
Instructor of Critical Studies (1992–1993, with several courses approved for Critical Studies credit since then)

Courses Taught Recently:
• Dada Divas, Then and Now: Poets, Paramours and Performers
• Topic-Driven Research
• Performance/Presentation Event
• Readings in VoiceArts
• Sounding the Voice: Utterance, Phonetics, Advanced Diction, Articulation and Sense
• Focused Topics in Vocal Literature: The Song Cycle
• Doctoral Projects
• Teaching the Teacher
• The [R]Evolution of Solo Vocal Literature
•  What Kind of Text is That? Exploring and Creating with Unusual Materials
•  Singing the Books: A Workshop on John Cage’s Song Books
•  “Playing” the Voice: Contemporary Vocal Techniques, Repertoire and Performance
•  Vox [outside the] Box
•  VoiceArts Foundation
•  Experimental Voice Workshop
• Voice Forum
• plus many additional courses on vocal literature, foreign language diction, and special topics

CalArts Interim: Before the beginning of each Spring Semester, CalArts offers an intensive two-week program that features workshops, guest artists, and courses on various special topics, including some taught by students under my supervision. In addition to being an original creator of the Interim program and coordinating it for many years, I have taught the following courses:

• Disembodied Voices:  A workshop exploring voice through the medium of radio, beginning with the performance of Futurist radio plays and similar material, followed by the creation and performance of original pieces for radio developed by participants (co-presented with mezzo-soprano Carmina Escobar)

• Song as Wind, Wind as Song:  An exploration of voice, woodwind, and brass sound production, discovering similarities in technique (co-presented with trumpeter Edward Carroll)

• The Long Books:  Workshops held to prepare a 4-hour rendition of John Cage’s Song Books during the Cage centennial (co-presented with composer Mark Bobak and baritone Paul Berkolds)

• Streaming through Finnegans Wake:  A workshop based on James Joyce’s masterpiece, leading to the construction and performance of a musical/theatrical piece based on excerpts (co-presented with composer William Brooks)

•Vox [outside the] Box:  A survey of adventuresome and indigenous vocal music from around the world, and on the use of extended techniques in Western art music (co-presented with composer Mark Bobak)

outside CalArts

Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing (2019)

During a week-long residency I taught master classes to advanced voice students in China’s leading music school.

Tenth International Latvian Young Musicians’ Master Classes, Sigulda, Latvia (2012)

For this intensive three-week program I conducted workshops on constructing versions of various solos in John Cage’s Song Books, developed and rehearsed performances of different lengths, and presented lectures on Cage to student and faculty participants. I was joined by my colleagues Paul Berkolds and Mark Bobak, who along with several students and guest artists, joined me in what was likely the Latvian premiere of Song Books at Spīķeri Hall in Rīga. 


California State Summer School for the Arts (1992–2006) held at the California Institute of the Arts and California State University, Fresno

CSSSA (more recently known as Inner Spark) is a whirl-wind four-week program for talented high-school students from around California (and more recently from other states). For several years I was “in charge” of the voice component of this program, during which I taught private voice lessons, held classes on vocal technique and acting, directed vocal master classes, and performed frequently.


Lake Placid Institute International Summer Music Seminars, Lake Placid NY (2003)

This two-week program ran on the conservatoire model, offering professionals and college-age students a rotation through various specialty studios. For this program, I taught master classes and conservatoire-style voice lessons and lectured on contemporary vocal music and extended vocal techniques.


International Young Musicians’ Master Classes, Ogre, Latvia (2002)

During my first visit to Latvia, I presented concerts in Rīga and was privileged to introduce contemporary vocal music largely unknown to the college-age students enrolled in this competitive summer program. In addition to teaching private lessons and holding master classes, I also performed for the participants, and got them involved in some music that I believe opened some creative doors.