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Trender: Opera Singer and Soprano Jane Shivick

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Who in Central Mass is leading the community in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalWorcester offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, we chat with Jane Shivick, Opera Singer and Soprano.  Shivick is a past winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will be working with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre later this summer.

Homegrown Factor:  

Attended Holy Name High School and Assumption College.  Currently sings with the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra and operates a vocal studio for 40 students.  

How easy is it to make a living with music in Worcester?

I think it is a challenge for anyone to make a full-time living in the arts no matter where you reside. For most of us to make a living in the arts, it seems necessary to hold more than one job in our field. I teach privately and maintain a private studio of 35-40 students on a weekly basis. My teaching is my main source of income at this time. However, I have held various music positions within area churches as well as at Assumption College which have all contributed to my making a full-time living in the arts. Sadly, paid performance positions, whether here in Worcester as well as on the regional level, are beginning to become scarce which is a reflection of the economic times. Musicians throughout the U.S. are being asked to perform for less money and some opera companies are currently providing no compensation at all. For this reason, it can be very difficult for anyone pursuing a career in classical music. 

How would you describe the strength of the classical music scene in Worcester?

The classical scene here in Worcester is very small, and everyone pretty much knows one another. There are many extremely talented musicians working here who have extensive and impressive performance resumes. Greater Worcester Opera auditions singers from the local area and brings them together to perform operas and concerts. The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra is another great organization and its annual free summer concert series is a wonderful way to bring Broadway, classical, and orchestral music to the Central Massachusetts community.  All in all, I believe the strength of our classical music scene in Worcester comes from the talented musicians who reside here and who work together to provide the best possible performances on all levels.

What are your favorite pieces/performances?

Currently, my favorite composers to sing are Puccini, Verdi, Strauss, and Wagner. Compositions by these composers touch me in the very depth of my being. 

One of my favorite and most memorable performances came recently on the stage of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, RI as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Brown University Orchestra and Chorus.  The concert was part of a farewell tribute and celebration for Brown’s outgoing president, Ruth Simmons, who was the first female president elected by Brown and the first black president of an Ivy League institution. 

Another memorable moment for me came a few years ago when I made my debut at Symphony Hall in Boston with the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Keith Lockhart and Maestro Steven Mercurio. I sang for eight performances during their Holiday Pops concert series which is offered each December. 

One of my most memorable and treasured performances was on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City. I became a 1998 National Winner in the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Ten of us were chosen as grand prize winners and I was one of two sopranos who won. The Metropolitan Orchestra accompanied me as I sang two arias to the opera house-which was filled to capacity. On that day, I had reached one of my goals as an opera singer: to sing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House. 

How do you balance a musician's life with your family?

I am able to balance my work and familial responsibilities because of the great support network I have. My husband, mother and father-in-law, and my mother are simply amazing!  My husband and daughter support me in every way they can and my husband makes sure I have what I need in order to reach my potential as a musician. For singers, the fact that our body is our instrument makes that balance even more important. Learning how to take care of yourself in order to remain in good vocal health can be arduous. However, if my instrument is not healthy, I am no good to anyone. 

What is next for you?

I have been asked to understudy my first Wagnerian operatic role (Sieglinde in Die Walkyre) with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre at the end of the summer. I am very excited to learn all that goes into singing this wonderful opera. I will also be singing an all-Schubert program at Tuckerman Hall on Saturday, September 29th. I have many concerts scheduled throughout the year and into 2013, including some performances with Boston Lyric Opera. 

Jane Shivick will performing at Institute Park on Saturday at 7 pm with the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra's Classics to Broadway concert.



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