NKU students had the chance to work with a fresh face at last Friday’s (Jan. 23) TGIT performance. Students reveled in the opportunity to work with a fresh face in a hands-on masterclass setting.
Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk, associate professor of voice and opera at the University of Alabama at Birmingham came to last Friday’s Thank God it’s Theatre at NKU as a fresh face and voice to work with students in a masterclass setting. A masterclass is a workshop given by an expert to highly talented students.
“Masterclass implies that there is mastery over what we do. But we know we’re works in progress, there’s no such thing as mastery, only pursuit of it,” Wajszczuk said.
She believes that every student has their own issues and challenges and strengths when it comes to singing. She hoped to concentrate on individuals’ overarching issues while using the singers as examples for audience members to learn from.
“I was hoping to bring to them [the students] whatever they needed in the moment,” Wajszczuk said.
Sophomore music education major, Calvin Horner sang “Money, O!” by Michael Head. Horner enjoyed working with Wajszczuk and took a lot away from the experience.
“Kristine was a great help. She was very insightful and kind. I was able to learn a lot from her,” Horner said. “With me, she worked a lot on relaxing my breathing and keeping better posture. It was technical things that I hadn’t worked on in a while, so it helped quite a bit.”
Wajszczuk’s philosophy is that good technique is based on an accurate understanding of how the body works.
“She was different from other master classes in the way she presented things,” Horner said. “She was very straightforward but kind as well. It was a good mixture.”
Junior BFA musical theatre major, Gabby Francis sang “I’m Not Alone” from Carrie the musical and enjoyed hearing things explained in ways she hadn’t heard before.
Acquiring expressive skills and increasing performance confidence is just as important as accumulating technical skill according to Wajszczuk.
“She specifically worked on some diction with me. No one had ever told me how prominent my ‘S’ sounds were when I sang so it was great to hear new feedback,” Francis said. “We also did some character work that would strengthen my presence on stage.”
Many students in attendance were able to pick up on some common corrections that Wajszczuk made to the performances.
Junior BFA musical theatre major, Hallie Hargus enjoyed seeing Wajszczuk working with students.
“It was nice to have the chance to work with someone from outside our own faculty,” Hargus said. “She brought a fresh perspective and introduced some new ideas.”
Wajszczuk impressed the audience with the improvements in the students’ performance, coupled with her personable demeanor.
“I thought Kristine was the perfect mix of funny, kind, and constructive. She helped the singers improve quite a bit in the little time she had, and she made jokes along the way to keep everyone relaxed,” sophomore BFA musical theatre major Andrew Blake said. “She was able to explain certain things about technique for us in different ways than our professors.”
Wajszczuk is currently on sabbatical and is singing the role of Dido in the opera “Dido and Aeneas,” with Bourbon Baroque in Louisville this March. She will also do more masterclasses across the midwest.
“With singers of this age, almost all have breath management issues, especially for young undergrads.” Wajszczuk said. “Thats one of the building blocks we work on.”
Wajszczuk is currently performing a guest recital (The Jewish Soul) with NKU professor and longtime friend, Damon Stevens.
“We met 7 or 8 years ago when we sang a few things together and we had a musical simpatico,” Wajszczuk said. “We said we have to do a recital together at some point. Now here we are.”
The two performed their recital on Tuesday, Jan. 27 in Greaves Hall.
This Friday’s TGIT performance will be senior BFA musical theatre major, Miki Abraham and friends performing a Cabaret Show at 1p.m. in the Stauss Theatre.
The TGIT was set up by NKU professor, Sandra Foreman as a channel for students to express themselves in a non-judgmental environment.