With a personal history rich in performing and teaching, Kathleen Sasnett, assistant professor of voice and opera at Gettysburg College's Sunderman Conservatory of Music, didn't think twice about incorporating Gettysburg College students into a professional performance tour.
The summer of 2010 marked the third time Sunderman students accompanied Sasnett on a European tour. Six students participated in all or part of the tour, which included Varna, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, and Israel.
In addition to singing in the chorus, students were soloists in Sasnett-directed "Night on Broadway" performances in three of the cities (including Budapest, pictured below).
"The performance tour was a great experience on so many levels," said senior Paul McShee, a conductor with an English and music double major. "I got a lot of podium time with the choir and orchestra along with amazing coaching from the world-class faculty, including [renowned Bulgarian composer] Danail Rachev! I was able to work on my conducting in a very individualized way and get immediate feedback from the ensembles and soloists."
Sasnett was featured as the soprano soloist for the Mozart Requiem, which presented an opportunity for the students to see their teacher in a slightly different light.
"It was very rewarding to see Dr. Sasnett in a professional environment," said junior Natasha Maskaly, a music and French double major who participated in the Varna and Central Europe legs of the tour. "Even though she focuses on teaching, she is still performing, and I think she wanted to convey the importance of that to us. I learned a lot watching her prepare and perform."
The daughter of voice teachers, Sasnett has always known that singing and teaching would be a big part of her life. She began performing at a young age, eventually becoming Miss Washington and finishing in the top ten at the Miss America competition.
Over the course of her performance career, Sasnett, an avid recitalist and oratorio soloist, has performed in America and Europe, excelling in both opera and musical theatre. She was a Seattle Opera Young Artist and has been the featured soprano soloist in varied works such as Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Vaughn Williams' Hodie, and Gounod's St. Cecilia's Mass.
Greatly praised in her performance career, Sasnett has been called a "lovely soprano" with a voice that is "vividly alive" and an "extraordinarily powerful" performer by the likes of the Washington Post and Seattle Times. Most recently, she received Second Prize in the 2011 Barry Alexander International Voice Competition.
After earning a doctor of musical arts degree in vocal performance from The Ohio State University, Sasnett (pictured at right with Sunderman students in Varna) came to Gettysburg College in the fall of 2006.
"One of the reasons I was excited to come to Gettysburg is that I was encouraged to continue performing," said Sasnett. "It was a unique teaching opportunity that offered me the best of both worlds."
Fifteen Sunderman students plan to go to Europe for a performance tour in June and July 2011. Students will perform Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and learn from an experienced professional cast. Among those professionals they'll be learning from: Sasnett herself, who will play Pamina.
A second leg of the tour will take the group to Italy where Sasnett will be the soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem. She will also produce three "Night On Broadway" performances featuring Sunderman students that were so popular on last summer's tour.
"Whether they come as singers, instrumentalists, or auditors, it'll be a time they never forget," Sasnett enthused.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803Posted: Mon, 20 Dec 2010
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