Sipping Coffee with soprano Catherine McCord Larsen

June 24, 2015

Tonight's faculty recital includes soprano Catherine McCord Larsen. Her many years with us have been a gift and blessing in our rich community. Below is a brief Q&A about her own personal experience(s) at LSM and some of the background from which she hails. Please join us tonight at the Center for Faith & Life to see her and others perform. The recital begins at 7:30 p.m. Free admission.

How many years have you been at LSM? What is your favorite scheduled event at LSM and why?  

     This is my 12th summer at LSM.  It’s hard to believe my voice students from my first summer are now in their late twenties. Some of these individuals have kept in touch with me through the years and it’s rewarding to hear how they’ve used what they learned at LSM in their current professions.

     I have to say it’s the Bach Cantata. The students and faculty perform side by side with each other and there is a real sense of community, working together toward a common goal. Nothing compares with learning phrasing, articulation and ornamentation as when doing so next to a seasoned pro. In recent years we’ve performed an entire Bach Cantata with choir and orchestra in the middle of our LSM Sunday worship service, just like it was done in Bach’s time. However, our service doesn’t last for three hours like was the norm when Bach’s Cantatas were heard for the first time.

What is one of the your first memories of singing? How did you officially begin your studies in music?

     I remember singing often as a child, but one of my first memories of singing was being bundled up in a red winter coat and performing a solo in my fifth grade Christmas program. It was chilly that night so our teacher told all the students sing the concert with our coats on. I laugh at this now because I grew up in southern California.  What we considered chilly there was probably around 50 degrees. Fifth grade was also the year I began playing the flute as part of our Elementary School instrumental music program. My formal singing education didn’t begin until High School. I was a member of the mixed choir and our choral director, Gerald Olson, encouraged me to try out for the soprano solos in Handel’s “Messiah”  which we were performing at the time. I still have an old cassette of the aria “Rejoice Greatly” which was recorded a couple of weeks before my High School graduation. I sound so young! But listening to it keeps me humble!

Tell us about someone who was influential in your musical abilities and your direction in study.

     My first voice teacher, Richard Raub, heard my potential early on, especially with the music of Bach, and prompted me to audition for several professional singing ensembles including the Oregon Bach Festival.

     Another pivotal person in my formative years in college was Dr. Alejandro Planchart at U.C. Santa Barbara who introduced me to the music of Claudio Monteverdi, and under whose direction I performed several of the soprano solos in Monteverdi’s“1610 Vespers.” That piece literally changed my appreciation of music the first time I heard it.  Dr. Planchart knew this musical genre would suit my voice well and introduced me to vocal music of other greats like Rameau, Scarlatti and du Fay.

Who is one of your favorite singers of today and why?

     That is a tough question! There are so many wonderful singers in the world today singing different styles and genres. I have different favorites for all areas!

     However, if I were to name just one of my favorites, it would be the soprano, Dawn Upshaw.  She is a very versatile and innovative singer, shining in her performance of traditional repertoire and adventurous in giving new compositions a voice as well. I love the warmth of her tone and the elegance in her phrasing. She loves the nuance of text and sings with heart. Her performances never cease to move me.