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Sarah Meredith Livingston sets tone for faculty recital

Nicole Lasee, Entertainment Editor
February 6, 2013
Filed under Entertainment

In solo and classical singing, mezzosoprano, an Italian expression, means to sing the middle range of a soprano voice.

UW-Green Bay’s own mezzosoprano, Sarah Meredith Livingston, associate professor of music, will perform a faculty recital Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Admission is free at the Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. The vocal performance will feature fellow professor Courtney Sherman and UW-Michigan pianist Timothy Cheek.

Maintaining an active private studio in Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, Livingston performs solo and recital vocal presentations. She teaches applied voice, diction for singers, opera/musical theater and women in the performing arts.

Livingston has been organizing student and faculty groups performing across the world since 1993.

“I started studying voice my senior year of college. I was a late bloomer to music,” Livingston said. “Usually singers start out in high school and carry right through to their undergraduate degree, but I had other interests and didn’t know if I wanted to be a singer, but I ended up doing it.”

Throughout Europe, the U.S. and South America, Livingston has performed as a soloist, recitalist, teacher and adjudicator.

“I love the art of singing and the teaching of singing,” Livingston said. “I think it’s a dynamic profession, and you can never have all the answers, no matter how old you are. I do coaching in Minneapolis once a month, and I work with a woman in her 80s who is a mezzosoprano. You always need another ear to listen.”

Livingston has been involved with faculty recitals since 1986 at various campuses. Livingston’s art song recital presents art music, crafted from recognized poetry, similar to a lecture.

“The art song recital is sort of dying, and we have to find different ways to present it,” Livingston said. “Im doing this as a lecture recital, to present literature in a foreign language. I talk about each piece before I sing it to help the audience understand it. We have to work hard to keep the art song recital alive.”

Most of the art songs Livingston presents are folk songs from Slovakia and Czech Republic, 1850 to 1950. In 2001, Livingston taught as a guest professor at the Academy of Music and Dance in Bratislava Slovakia.

Livingston speaks German, and a small amount of Italian and French. Generally singers have to be proficient with language with many songs in Italian, German, French, Czech and Slovak.

“Singers that do classical literature learn something called the international phonetic alphabet,” Livingston said. “We learn a phonetic alphabet that helps us sing in all languages. Even though we may not understand it grammatically, we can sing it pronunciation-wise and learn the meaning as we read.”

Pianist Timothy Cheek from the University of Michigan is the Czech diction specialist of the U.S. and will be a performing guest at the recital. Livingston and Cheek have been working together since 1986.

Courtney Sherman, fellow voice faculty member, will also be performing at the showcase with Livingston.

Livingston organized a music travel program to Brazil last year and is returning this May. She hopes to continue doing lecture art recitals in the future.

“I can’t imagine not being a singer,” Livingston said. “I want to keep internationalizing my students. It’s about expanding people’s minds musically.”

Livingston is the founder and director of the sixth annual Montreal International Czech/Slovak Voice Competition Semi-finals, held on campus Sept. 28 and 29. This event is the only competition promoting Czech/Slovak music in the U.S.

Livingston has also worked as an active international mediator, jurying for various voice competitions.

Last year, Livingston performed “Seguidilla” in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil with the University of Sao Paulo Orchestra, directed by Maestro Rubens Ricciardi.

Among an extensive list of awards, Livingston was selected this past year as the Researcher Scholar at UWGB. The upcoming lecture recital of Czech/Slovak vocal repertoire is a result of the research.

Livingston will be presenting this showcase at UW-Milwaukee Feb. 11 and the Czech/Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 2013.