Adjunct Associate Professor
Rachelle Jonck received her musical training at the Conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Initially training and performing as a concert pianist, she discovered the joy of working with other musicians, especially singers, and decided to focus on vocal accompaniment. Simultaneously nurturing an interest in musicology, she received her degree majoring in both piano and music sociology.
After completing her studies, Rachelle joined Cape Town Opera in 1991 as rehearsal pianist and vocal coach. She also taught at the Opera School of the University of Cape Town. In 1993 she moved to Pretoria as Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at the State Theater Opera. She founded the State Theater Philharmonic Choir and, in a fruitful relationship with conductor Gerard Korsten, presented a wide range of choral works, including Bach's St John's Passion, Brahms' German Requiem, Verdi's Requiem and many more.
She was awarded a FNB/Vita award for her contribution to opera in South Africa with special mention of her work with the State Theater Opera Chorus. In 1998 Ms Jonck received the Nederburg Opera Prize – South Africa’s premier opera award. Throughout her operatic career in her home country she maintained a busy concert schedule accompanying local and visiting singers and instrumentalists. She was an official accompanist of the International String and Vocal Competition in Pretoria (hosted by the University of South Africa.)
In 1998 Rachelle moved to New York City as Head Coach and Assistant Conductor of Bel Canto at Caramoor (with Will Crutchfield) – a position she still holds. Ms Jonck's work at Bel Canto at Caramoor was featured in an article in Early Music America - Winter 2009. In addition to Mr Crutchfield she works closely with Professor Philip Gossett during the summer months. Professor Gossett's book Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society as the best book on music of 2006. His work as editor of the critical editions of the Rossini and Verdi operas is an integral part of Bel Canto at Caramoor's mission. New editions of bel canto operas often have their world or American premieres at the Caramoor Festival. As Head Coach and Assistant Conductor Ms Jonck takes an active part in bringing this important research to life.
Ms Jonck maintains a busy vocal coaching studio in New York and Princeton. She works with a wide variety of singers, including established professionals whose careers take them to the largest opera houses of the world, and younger singers still on the verge of a professional career. While her range of repertoire is wide, she has made a name for herself as a specialist Italian style coach - Handel, Mozart and the bel canto masters, including Verdi.
Balancing her love for opera, Ms Jonck enjoys recital collaborations with her singers and in addition to regular concerts at the Caramoor Festival, her recital appearances in the United States include Weill Recital Hall, the Bard Festival, the Monadnock Music Festival (Peterborough, NH), Music Mountain (Falls Village, CT), Van Cliburn Concerts (Fort Worth, TX), National Gallery Recitals (Washington, DC), Art Song of Williamsburg (VA) and the Dame Myra Hess broadcast concert series (Chicago, IL). She has appeared multiple times as a guest on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. She is anticipating the release of her Fauré recording with tenor Steven Tharp. It traces the development of Fauré's musical language in his Mélodies.
As a conductor Ms Jonck made her debut conducting the Orchestra of St Luke’s in collaboration with the David Parsons Dance Company soon after her arrival in the United States. In 1999 she worked with this highly acclaimed orchestra again in collaboration with Pascal Rioult for New York Children’s Free Opera and Dance at the Kaye Playhouse. In January of 2000 Rachelle returned to South Africa to conduct Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Spier Festival in Stellenbosch. In May of the same year she made her operatic conducting debut in New York City conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in their production of Bizet’s Le docteur miracle at the 92nd Street Y. For Caramoor she conducted Mozart’s Così fan tutte as well as Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon.
Ms Jonck has served on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music as Head Vocal Coach. She was a judge at the prestigious Palm Beach Opera competition. Since 2007 she has served on the adjunct faculty of Westminster Choir College. In addition to vocal coaching of undergraduate and graduate students she teaches the Undergraduate Performance Class.
As a sought after guest teacher her master class topics, while related to her main study field of bel canto, explore the wider application of the bel canto way of singing. These topics include: “One breath impulse per phrase: Legato in practice”, “Legato and Language: Breath and Consonants” and "Recitative study techniques". She will be teaching her recitative course as a guest instructor of the Palm Beach Young Artist program in December.