Alumni Journeys

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Cooperative came at a time in my life when I was just starting my masters and getting back into music after a couple of years away from it. It was extremely useful to work with such a high caliber of professionals from all angles. Coaches, teachers, acting coaches, managers and other business professionals were available regularly or in master class throughout the summer. This program opened my eyes to what it really takes to be successful in this business and then gave me all the tools necessary to keep going forward. These tools I still apply today when learning new roles and arias for auditions and performances, not to mention the business savvy imparted to us. In a world where singing in opera is becoming increasingly more difficult, I believe that this program is on the cutting edge of what needs to happen NOW for young singers.
Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone
Upon graduating from Loyola University New Orleans in 2006, I was ready to take the opera world by storm. I had received rigorous vocal and academic training, and I had my diploma. However, like thousands of newly graduated opera students, I found myself utterly lost looking at the opera world ahead. All I could do was ask, "What am I supposed to do now?" I know that I made the best professional and artistic decision in attending CoOPERAtive eight years ago. I received coachings and attended masterclasses given by some of the greatest and most connected musicians and directors in the business. These were some of the very conductors, singers, directors and coaches that I would eventually see on audition and competition panels. In three weeks at CoOPERAtive, I learned what it is that these people look for in an opera singer. I learned how to approach my music and performance as a professional. The knowledge gained about the business side of opera proved to be invaluable as well. Receiving these tools so early on set me apart from many of my peers. I began my professional career that fall, not even half a year out of college. I continue to use the tools I gained that summer, and I would not be where I am today were it not for my experience at CoOPERAtive.
Justin Hopkins, bass-baritone
There is no question that The CoOPERAtive Program was instrumental in my development as a singer and performer. CoOPERAtive provided me life-long tools for auditions, role preparation and understanding the Opera industry. The faculty of CoOPERAtive is of the highest caliber and I still work with many of the coaches I met through the program to this day. Any singer given the opportunity to attend this program should very seriously consider attending, as it is one of the most honest, effective and unforgettable experiences an aspiring performer could participate in.
Jacob Kinderman, baritone
The CoOperative Program is truly unique among the many summer programs young singers have the option to attend. During a three-week period, I had the opportunity to intensely focus on auditions arias I had chosen and prepared. Through work with highly respected professionals in music and drama, I gained invaluable insight and was given practical advice in an environment dedicated to learning. Most importantly, I felt I was in a safe place to take risks and try new things – which is the key for young singers to find their artistic personalities and learn what they are truly capable of accomplishing. It is more than learning audition skills – it is learning the true meaning of total preparation for any challenge an artist may undertake during their career and a journey of self-discovery. My time in the CoOperative Program left an indelible mark on my education and continues to shape and refine my artistic outlook and professional goals.
Jennifer Johnson-Cano, mezzo-soprano
The CoOPERAtive program was truly incredible!!! I could not recommend it enough to a young singer. It not only gave me an understanding of how to study and prepare for roles, it made me aware of my potential. I realized that I could do much more than I believed I could. It was excellent for preparing for audition season. Between the input from several different coaches and teachers, masterclasses and concerts held by the end of each week, the preparation was truly perfected! I felt great vocally and SO confident after this program. Any singer who wants to prepare for auditions, feel better in their technique, gain confidence and understand their instrument better should seriously consider this program!
Dísella Làrusdóttir, soprano
When I look back at the last decade of my life, it’s easy to pinpoint the moments of growth and development. The moments where the music became more meaningful, and the drama became more real. One of those key moments came when I worked with the staff at the CoOPERAtive Summer Program. In 2009, I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Princeton, New Jersey attending CoOPERAtive. When I returned home, I found that I was more confident and excited to push my vocal limits. I was eager to pursue this career, but smart enough to realize I had a long way to go. My time in Princeton proved fruitful when I received full vocal scholarships to three of the top vocal programs in the nation, and an Encouragement Award at the Southwest Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition.
Tyson Miller, tenor
I attended CoOPERAtive during a very important time in my life as a young artist. I was three years out of graduate school, and about to embark on a season of intense auditioning. I needed those 3 weeks to make me into an auditioning machine. What I found in coachings and training at the program was so much more than that. The approach of the program was not just to turn out a good product, but to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin while creating intimacy between you and your specific repertoire. I took the arias I worked on at CoOPERAtive to 30 auditions, and received several roles and opportunities. I knew my arias so well that I experienced almost no nerves during auditions. For the first time, auditioning became fun. There was no fear involved. Never before have I had the pleasure of working with such amazing authorities on my repertoire. In particular, I loved working with Gina Lapinski, who I continue to study with and now work with here at the Met. One of the auditions I did after my summer at CoOPERAtive was for the Metropolitan Opera Company. I was offered a full time contract singing in the Chorus. I started here in July, and have the pleasure of singing in 16 operas this season.
Jennifer Rossetti, soprano
Rexford Tester is a second-year graduate student studying voice pedagogy and performance at Westminster Choir College and alum of the CoOPERAtive Program. Mr. Tester is one of nine semi-finalists in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will compete on Sunday, March 30, 2014 in the Grand Finals Concert, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. A student of Laura Brooks Rice, he is the seventh Westminster student or alumnus to make it to the Met Finals competition.

After receiving his master’s degree in 2014, he will enter Santa Fe Opera’s prestigious apprentice program, where he will cover the role of Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and sing in the chorus for the other operas during the season.
Rexford Tester, tenor

My first summer in the CoOPERAtive Program was 2011. I had come to Westminster Choir College six months previous to pursue a Masters in Organ Performance. I was recommended to CoOPERAtive by the professor of my elective accompanying class, Susan Ashbaker, who then became my private coach for two years. That first summer at CoOPERAtive left me overwhelmed, exhausted and yet completely ecstatic. I want to learn more about opera and all that it meant to not only “play” for someone, but to “coach” them. I continued to be immersed in operatic literature by playing for singers of Laura Brook Rice’s studio through the remainder of my time at Westminster Choir College.

The following summer, I returned to CoOPERAtive, sharing the pianist duties of Sandra Bernhard’s dramatic coachings. That second summer left me certain about my future’s direction: I wanted to be an opera coach. I will never forget Sandra turning to me during a coaching and asking me to share my knowledge with the singer during her coaching! I discovered more and more that my ideas about the music, the drama, and the text were the main things needed from me as a coach. After a pianists’ session with Kathleen Kelly, I approached her and said that I would like to do this for a living and asked what I should do next. She said I should apply for programs! Immediately following CoOPERAtive 2012, I signed up for YAP Tracker and applied for a few programs. In March 2013, I officially accepted the offer to attend UT Austin for a Doctorate in Opera Coaching, studying with Kathleen Kelly and Kelly Kuo.

This past summer at CoOPERAtive, I, along with eight other fabulous pianist colleagues, had the opportunity to work with Martin Katz extensively. This third year continued to grow my relationships with faculty and colleagues and further solidified my relationships with dear friends whom I still talk to on a daily basis. I am loving every minute of my experience down here at UT Austin, and am thankful to CoOPERAtive for giving me direction in pursuing an art form I fall in love with more and more every day.
Keenan Boswell, collaborative pianist

View a list of all CoOPERAtive Young Artists, Fellows, and Pianists