June 3-7 & 10-14, 2024
Above: Soprano Karen Slack (Photo Credit: Kia Caldwell)
Singing Down the Barriers (SDtB) is an intensive exploration of the repertoire of African American, African and African Diaspora concert composers for the university student, apprentice, teacher (private, high school or university), coach, choral conductor, church musician, professional singer, or organization administrator. The institute offers an approach to performance and is also designed to provide a historical perspective and discussions to examine our contemporary attitudes toward performing/understanding this music. Questions such as “who is allowed to sing this repertoire” are examined and addressed in sessions throughout the two week institute.
Week 1 of SDtB (online) is an intensive introduction to this repertoire. In tandem with a directed curriculum of readings, resources, recordings, and reflective exercises, the SDtB Institute in Week 1 seeks to help participants overcome the barriers that prevent successful engagement with and eventual performance of African American and African Diaspora concert repertoire including art song, opera arias and spirituals. Attendees will take part in lectures and panels with scholars and artists specializing in this repertoire, join in discussions on practical topics, and explore repertoire in small group breakout sessions. From poetry analysis and historical background to surveying the songs of contemporary African American composers, attendees will leave with a stronger understanding of the cultural context and performance practices needed to successfully sing, teach, coach and present this repertoire.
Week 2 of the SDtB Institute (in-person) is designed as a follow-up to Week 1 (or previous participation in the SDtB Institute) and will focus on performance aspects and practical applicability of information from Week 1. Daily coaching and lessons, sessions to help navigate singing/teaching dialect as well as guided readings, discussion groups, and sessions on special topics (including individual composers), will continue to enrich knowledge of repertoire from artistic, administrative and vocal practitioner stances.
Guest artists in Week 2 include soprano Karen Slack and baritone Justin Austin. The core workshop faculty include Dr. Louise Toppin, Dr. Caroline Helton, Dr. Emery Stephens and Hampsong Foundation managing director Christie Finn.
SDtB Institute is an adult summer intensive offered through U-M’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance and is offered in partnership with the Hampsong Foundation via the Classic Song Research Intiative.
Registration Deadline: March 1, 2024
- (Online) June 3 – June 7, 2024
- (In-Person) June 10 – June 14, 2024
WITH HOUSING + MEALS
- $1000 – In-Person Participation + Housing & Meals
- $700 – STUDENT In-Person Participation + Housing & Meals (with valid Student ID)
WITHOUT HOUSING + MEALS
- $500 – In-Person WITHOUT Housing & Meals
- $350 – Virtual Week Participation
Learn more and register here:
Singing Down the Barriers 2024
Learn more about this summer institute, including how to register!Visit site
Singing Down the Barriers: A Guide to Centering African American Song for Concert Performers
By: Emery Stephens and Caroline Helton (SDtB Faculty Members)
Never has there been a more urgent time to foster cultural humility, diversity, and community dialogue while addressing systemically exclusionary teaching practices in vocal music.
Singing Down the Barriers offers readers from all ethnic backgrounds a space in which to better understand the historical and cultural barriers to researching, programming, and performing repertoire by composers from the African diaspora. Emery Stephens and Caroline Helton present a pedagogical guide for singers, singing teachers, students, and administrators that will assist not only with programming but also in creating sustainable, brave spaces for critical conversations on race, equity, and American music.
This book is a seminal resource for higher education, community music programs, private studios, and beyond, and will help support DEI initiatives for vocal music programs.