Vocal Arts Festival

Vocal Arts Festival participants perform in 2009. The 2018 Vocal Arts Festival will be Sunday through July 29 at Colorado College.

Young performers will hone their craft this month at Colorado College.

The Vocal Arts Festival and Young Artists Intensive Training Program created 20 years ago by Colorado College and Martile Rowland, Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ founder and artistic director, kicks off Sunday and runs through July 29.

This will be the 17th year for the Vocal Arts Festival, which had a three-year hiatus. It started the same year as the Opera Theatre of the Rockies, now celebrating its 20th anniversary season.

“The festival came about with a wonderful guy named John Watkins, who was head of summer programs at CC. He was interested in starting a vocal part of the summer music festival at the college. ... It’s just grown exponentially since then, with enormous support from CC and its music department,” Rowland said.

Forty-one singers from the U.S. and Canada, ranging in age from high school through post-college, will come to Colorado Springs for coaching and classes by CC faculty, visiting mentors and local artists. The festival has opera and musical theater tracks, and participants will have the opportunity to learn how to find an agent and perfect auditioning skills as well.

The students give performances throughout the festival, which are open to the public.

The Adventure Culture Fund, created by “anonymous community leaders,” according to Rowland, is underwriting a new part of the festival called the WOW Project. WOW enables the festival to bring in three nationally recognized mentors: Craig Terry, director of Chicago Lyric Opera’s Ryan Artists Training Center; Peter Randsman, an agent with Randsman Artist Management of New York City; and Tony-nominated actor Bryce Pinkham (2014, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”).

The fund also is underwriting WOW cash awards for five festival participants, as recommended by faculty, and an Audience Favorite Award, to be given out July 29 at the grand finale concert.

“We’re very excited about WOW — it adds a whole other dynamic,” Rowland said.

The festival is sponsored by Opera Theatre of the Rockies, Colorado College Music Department, El Pomar Foundation and Pikes Peak Opera League.

“They have a lot to do in three weeks — that’s why we call it an intensive. We’re there about 12 hours a day, every day,” Rowland said. “It’s just a joyous experience. There’s an electricity that happens.”

Annamarie Zmolek, an accomplished soprano and Colorado native who has performed with Opera Theatre of the Rockies, is a graduate of the program.

“I spent four summers working with Martile Rowland at the Vocal Arts Festival at Colorado College. It was where I first learned stagecraft, movement and preparation of a role … which later became very important in my singing career. ... I got to know different operas and was exposed to so much music. I learned who I was as a performer and cannot say enough about what a gift that has been to me in my career!”

Contact the writer: 476-1602, michelle.karas@gazette.com

MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM

Editor, Pikes Peak Newspapers

Michelle has been editor of Pikes Peak Newspapers (Pikes Peak Courier and Tri-Lakes Tribune) since June 2019. A Pennsylvania native and Penn State journalism graduate, she joined The Gazette's staff in 2015.

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