Alan's Blog...It's all Gesamtkunstwerk to me!

Thoughts from nearly 40 years on the professional stage

Soaking the least the youngest among us

Many of you may be aware that I posted a little item to my Facebook page the other day that’s received quite a bit of attention both here and in Europe. I wrote concerning the expenses that young singers are facing as they attempt to start their careers. I am concerned about the fees charged in order for them to get into the door of certain regional opera companies, universities, competitions, and young artist program. It was not my intention to vilify these institutions. However, what I totally decry is the practice of charging all these students and then never giving them an actual audition. The students simply can’t afford the amount of money that is needed to get their careers off the ground if they intend to do a full run of the audition opportunities. But, to spend the money and not get any feedback, let alone an audition, is just not right. A few universities also are in my radar as the amount they charge in application fees and then screening and audition fees is ridiculous. Quite simply, they are making money on the backs of the young talent. Very fine singers are simply not being heard and are not being allowed to continue their artistic endeavors due simply to the charges they face in order to take some very important early career steps. This is certainly a change from the days when I started my career. I am fully aware that facilities where auditions are held cost money to rent. Pianists, if they are to be used by the singers (many bring their own) are sometimes provided which would necessitate some costs. But singers also have to pay for travel, lodging, and all other kind of expenses to get to the audition location--of course, that is if they get an audition in the first place. The amounts being charged seem over the top in so many cases. More opera companies should hold their auditions together in order to help the young singers. Dates of auditions should be grouped so that singers can get to more auditions in a shorter amount of time. Companies should find ways to make things far more advantageous for the young artists to exhibit their talent. Anything short of that will lead to our art form being diminished in so many ways. Let’s do all we can to aide the advancement of some very fine talent.
On another front, we’ve begun our Thanksgiving break here in Wichita. It has been a great semester to this point and I am so proud of my students at WSU. I also look forward to the concerts that remain this semester and to the exams (it’ll be nice to be on the other side of the desk during the testing). Most of all, I’m thrilled that our entire family will be together, for the first time, in Wichita over the next few days. How great to be “home for the holidays”.
Oh, and the Wichita State SHOCKERS are now ranked #9 in the country. What a team, what a town! I’m a proud alum and faculty member. I’ve enjoyed singing the National Anthem for both a men’s and a women’s game this Fall. May the winning ways continue!!!
I hope you all have a truly thanks filled Thanksgiving. May you be blessed in joyful and wondrous ways.