Music Performance: Voice Major

BW's voice performance major includes an eight-semester opera workshop and studies in voice, acting, movement, and interpretation.

Music Performance: Voice

Conservatory of Music

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Conservatory Admission
(440) 826-2368,

JR Fralick, Chair of Voice Department
Scott Skiba,
Director of Opera Studies



Prepare for 21st century performance success as a Baldwin Wallace voice performance major.

  • Innovative, real-world-focused curriculum.
  • World-class faculty of dedicated voice teachers, directors and coaches.
  • Eight-semester opera workshop sequence.
  • Master classes with internationally acclaimed guest artists.
  • Two full opera productions per year.
  • Numerous performance opportunities on and off campus.
  • Undergraduate-only Conservatory. No competition with grad students.
  • 20-minute proximity to Cleveland – a cultural capital of the Midwest.
  • Comprehensive preparation for success leading to top graduate schools and beyond.
  • The only program in the U.S. with a vocal pedagogy emphasis.
  • Voice Performance showing an opera production

    BW’s undergraduate-only Conservatory provides voice majors with exceptional performance opportunities. BW operas are cast entirely with undergraduate students, from lead roles to the chorus. 

  • Opera Class

    You'll hone your craft through intensive coursework and individual mentoring from our award-winning faculty, all practicing professionals with national and international experience. 

  • Bizet's Carmen

    BW takes a contemporary approach to the classics. In 2016, BW produced Peter Brook's “The Tragedy of Carmen," an adaptation that pares the beloved opera down to its most essential parts and stages the drama in a giant sand pit.

  • student mentoringvoice class - student mentoring

    BW voice performance majors collaborate with world-class guest artists and directors through master classes, opera productions and other performances. A student performs with renowned bass-baritone Daniel Lichti in BW's annual BW Bach Festival.

  • Motet Choir

    With more than 325 events a year, the BW Conservatory offers an impressive array of performance opportunities. Voice performance majors take the stage as soloists and chamber musicians and perform with a variety of small and large ensembles.  

  • Serse Opera

    Proximity to a major urban arts center provides opportunities for professional connections and off-campus performance. Students performed in the downtown Cleveland Arcade in a world-premiere adaptation of Handel's "Serse" produced in collaboration with Cleveland Opera Theater. 

Baldwin Wallace Opera

Two full-scale opera productions engage students in contemporary and classical approaches to opera:

Fall opera (November) is a fully staged and produced production with costumes, lights and orchestra that explores non-traditional spaces and contemporary interdisciplinary approaches to opera in the 21st century.

Spring opera (March) is a traditional production with full sets, lights, costumes and orchestra performed in BW's Kleist Center Blackbox.

At BW, you'll work with a wide range of stage directors. Each year, Scott Skiba, director of opera studies, directs one production and a specially chosen guest stage director leads the other production. This, combined with additional on- and off-campus performance opportunities, connects you to a valuable network of industry professionals. 

World-Premiere Productions

In 2016, BW presented a world-premiere adaptation of Händel's "Serse" in conjunction with Cleveland Opera Theater. The production featured renowned guest director and conductor Timothy Nelson.

BW received national media attention for its first-ever, in repertory productions of "La Bohème" and "Rent", directed by Victoria Bussert and conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos (conductor of the highly acclaimed Broadway production of "La Bohème").

Top Honors for Opera

BW's voice performance program is ascending to national prominence through award-winning opera productions, renowned collaborations and innovative programs. Among successes is a recent first-place national award for last year's main stage production of "Dialogues of the Carmelites." 

Alumna Performs at Met

BW voice performance majors receive training that positions them for top performance opportunities. The career of Jennifer Rowley '02 includes the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, among other major credits.

NOW Festival In-Residence

Hailed by The Plain Dealer as "cutting-edge" and "the future of opera," the NOW (New Opera Works) Festival is currently in-residence at BW.

Master Classes

A highlight of the voice performance experience is participating in master classes with internationally renowned artists and leading industry professionals.

Motet Choir

BW's popular Motet Choir has performed nationally, including at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Recent Guest Stage Directors

Timothy Nelson (hailed by Opera News as “the future of opera”); Cindy Oxberry (Washington National Opera); Beth Greenberg (New York City Opera).

Guest Conductors

Dean Williamson (Seattle Opera); Lucy Arner '77 (Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Metropolitan Opera).

Future Guest Artists

Eric Einhorn (stage director of Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago) will direct the BW spring 2019 main stage opera production.

Career Opportunities

  • Operatic performer
  • Professional singer
  • Studio voice teacher
  • Music educator
  • Arts administrator


BW's comprehensive curriculum gives you skills to excel in voice, acting, movement, improvisation, dance and interpretation.

You’ll develop your whole-body-instrument. You’ll learn to interpret text and music with imagination and communicate with power and authenticity through dynamic physical and vocal actions.

Rigorous coursework provides a foundation for your studies. Private lessons, coaching, workshops, master classes, scenes programs and fully staged opera productions offer real-world-focused learning opportunities.

Vocal Pedagogy Emphasis

The emphasis in vocal pedagogy is an interdisciplinary program between the Conservatory of Music, the communication sciences & disorders department and the Baldwin Wallace Speech Clinic. It is a unique program for undergraduate students that has received national attention and is made possible because of the collaborative relationship between faculty.

Lessons & Coaching

At the heart of the curriculum is the individual voice lesson. You’ll spend 60 minutes each week with one of our acclaimed faculty developing your technical and interpretive mastery.

The extraordinary versatility of our faculty allows you to explore a vast array of repertoire and styles. You'll delve into Bach and Schubert, as well Sondheim, Porter, Heggie, Rachmaninoff and Obradors.

Complementing that work is individual coaching with our opera music director. You’ll also have opportunities to refine your performance skills and experience new repertoire in weekly studio classes.

The work in the studio is supported and augmented by the Conservatory core music curriculum and a thorough course sequence in diction and literature, including English, Italian, German and French repertoire. Four semesters of foreign language study are also required for the major.

Opera Workshop

BW's eight-semester opera workshop offers exceptional learning opportunities that are distinctive to our program. You'll work with leading opera, theatre, music theatre and dance faculty members. You’ll receive comprehensive training to prepare you for graduate school and beyond as you build a solid foundation of singing acting techniques that are responsive to current industry expectations. Through the workshop, you'll:

  • Learn about opera, operetta, theatre, music theatre, oratorio and art song ranging from baroque to contemporary. 
  • Develop practical skills and insights you can apply to graduate school auditions, young artist programs and more.
  • Integrate skills and techniques from private voice lessons, voice studio classes, coaching and other classroom-based studies to develop your whole-body instrument.
  • Experience numerous performance opportunities. Each semester culminates in a fully staged workshop performance.

Workshop coursework includes:

  • Acting technique and singing acting technique
  • Spoken theatre monologues and scenes
  • Opera and music theatre scene work
  • Song and aria interpretation
  • Physical and vocal characterization
  • Ensemble opera theatre
  • Improvisation, devised theatre and mask work
  • Musical and dramatic preparation
  • Dance, movement and stage combat
  • Audition technique
  • Professional development

The musical performance: voice major prepares students to:

  • Sing with tone appropriate to entry-level professional work
  • Approach foreign language diction and IPA with professional-level competence
Course Catalog

Course Descriptions

Course descriptions, requirements for the major and additional information can be found in the University Catalog.


With an emphasis on experiential learning within a liberal arts environment, the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music blends artistic excellence with innovation. You are encouraged to participate and attend BW’s numerous productions and programs. Also beneficial to your studies and networking opportunities is BW’s connection to Cleveland and its vibrant performing arts community, a quick 20-minute drive from campus.

Master Classes

A highlight of the voice performance experience is participating in master classes with internationally renowned artists and leading industry professionals. Recent master class clinicians include:

  • Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke
  • "The Dean of Collaborative Pianists" Martin Katz
  • Wiliam Burden
  • Elizabeth Futral
  • Jamie Barton
  • Jennifer Rowley '02
  • David Cangelosi '85

Master classes afford the opportunity to establish connections with teachers from major summer programs like the Franco-American Vocal Academy and CoOPERAtive, as well as top-tier graduate institutions such as CCM and Westminster Choir College.

Exceptional Performance Opportunities

Our undergraduate-only Conservatory provides you with direct access to prepare and perform for lead roles in BW main stage and opera workshop productions, music theatre and theatre productions, and choral concerts. You'll be challenged, inspired and prepared to become the best artist you can be through experiences that include vibrant and dynamic works of theatre.  Opportunities include:

  • Main stage opera performances (October and March)
  • Opera workshop performances (December and May)
  • {NOW} Festival - Cleveland Opera Theater's annual festival to create, develop and perform new opera.
  • Junior and senior recitals
  • Voice departmental recital performances
  • Conservatory convocation
  • Four choral ensembles
  • Audition opportunities for all BW theatre and musical theatre productions
  • Annual concerto competition
  • Hakola Scholarship Competition
  • Other performance-based projects on and off campus.

Choral Ensembles and Orchestra

BW choral ensembles offer impressive learning and performance experiences. BW has four curricular choirs – Motet Choir, University Choir, Treble Choir and BW Singers – and several co-curricular groups. The Motet Choir has performed nationally, including at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Others have performed regionally and on campus. Students with an interest in jazz can sing with the BW Jazz Ensemble.

The choirs often prepare major works with featured soloists. Past works have included Beethoven's "Mass in C" and Schubert's "Mass in E-flat Major." The annual concerto competition is an outstanding opportunity for individuals who are willing to undertake a special challenge.

BW's acclaimed Bach Festival offers an exceptional learning experience. BW students participate as colleagues with prominent professional soloists and musicians. This world-renowned festival is the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the nation.


At Baldwin Wallace, you'll experience personal and professional growth in a supportive community that challenges and inspires you to succeed.

Students who graduate with a major in vocal performance have gone on to pursue graduate studies at top schools such as Eastman School of Music, Florida State University, Indiana University, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Maryland Opera Studio. 

Alumni of the program also have performed on the stages of the best opera houses and have achieved success in other areas of the arts and education.

Sarah NadlerSarah Nadler '15 is pursuing a master's degree in vocal performance at Carnegie Mellon University. She recently appeared as Amarilli in Handel's "Il pastor fido" at the Amherst Early Music Festival in New London, Conn.

Desiree Nicole JohnsonDésirée Nicole Johnson '13 attended OperaWorks for its emerging artist program. She performed with the Toledo Opera for its 2014-15 season and appeared in its production of "Faust." Currently completing an M.M. degree at Bowling Green State University, she maintains an active performance and teaching schedule. 

Lindsay EspinosaLindsay Espinosa '12 is Master of Music candidate at Colorado State University. She recently performed Massenet's "La Fee in Cendrillon" and will be an apprentice artist with Opera Fort Collins this year.

Alice NelsonAlice Nelson '11 is private voice teacher and music director for Mayfield High School in Ohio. She has worked with the Austin Lyric Opera in Texas. She is pursuing a master's degree in the music education and licensure program at Case Western Reserve University under a full-tuition, paid graduate assistantship.

Lindsey Sandham LeonardLindsey Sandham Leonard '10 has performed as Clara in "The Light in the Piazza," Lakeland Civic Theatre; Street Singer in "La Rondine," Opera Per Tutti; and Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific," Rabbit Run Theater. She earned an M.M. in vocal performance from Kent State University, where she was the 2011 concerto competition winner.

Gene StengerGene Stenger '10, tenor, made his Lincoln Center debut as soloist in J.S. Bach's "St. John Passion" with the Yale Schola Cantorum and Juilliard 415 Baroque Ensemble under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki. He is completing an M.M. in early music, oratorio and chamber ensemble at Yale University.

Jennifer RowleyJennifer Rowley '02 made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Musetta in "La Boheme" in 2014. Jennifer has been recognized in several international competitions, and she is a Richard Tucker Career Grant recipient. She holds a master's degree from the Indiana University School of Music. 



Dirk Garner

Chair, Conducting and Ensembles Department
Director of Choral Studies
Professor of Conducting
D.M.A., University of Iowa

Dirk Garner

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Full-Time Faculty

Dirk Garner
Chair, Conducting and Ensembles Department
Director of Choral Studies
Professor of Conducting
D.M.A., University of Iowa

JR Fralick
Chair, Vocal Studies Department
Professor of Voice
D.M.A., The Ohio State University

Jeremy Gussin
Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice
D.M., Indiana University

Gregory Harrell
M.M., University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music

Nancy Maultsby
Professor of Voice
B.M., Westminster Choir College

Cynthia O'Connell
Associate Professor of Voice
M.M., West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Scott Skiba
Director, Opera Studies
Associate Professor of Voice
M.M., Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Joanne Uniatowski
Associate Professor of Voice
D.M.A., The Cleveland Institute of Music

Marc Weagraff
Associate Professor
D.M.A., The University of Michigan

Adjunct Faculty

Jason Aquila
Opera Music Director
Lecturer in Opera Studies
M.M., Cleveland Institute of Music

Leilani Barrett
Lecturer of Opera
B.A., The Ohio State University

Tracy Grady
Lecturer in Voice
M.M., Ohio University

Ellen Rooney
Lecturer in Opera
Ph.D., Bowling Green State University

Jennifer Rowley
M.M., Indiana University Jacobs School of Music

Sandra Simon
Lecturer in Voice
M.M., Cleveland Institute of Music

Susan Wallin
Lecturer in Voice
B.M., Kent State University