North Texas Daily

Opera singer breaks award trend as winning vocalist

Opera singer breaks award trend as winning vocalist

March 19
08:44 2013

Michael Wood



At a respected and nationally acclaimed music school like UNT, the academic environment is immensely competitive.  Because of the school’s historic connection with jazz music, vocalists find it even more difficult to compete with the wide variety of highly-skilled instrumentalists.

Performance senior and mezzo-soprano Alyssa Narum won the 2013 Presser Scholarship award, which celebrates exceptional musicianship and studiousness. Narum was awarded $4,800.

“It’s very encouraging to win something like this,” Narum said. “Vocalists aren’t usually chosen.”

Narum is the first UNT vocalist in many years to win the Presser award. In addition to her other musical accomplishments, her work ethic as a student and musician gained the attention of the music faculty.

“I don’t feel like I work very hard because I love what I do so much,” Narum said.

Narum’s goal is to become a career opera singer, and began cultivating her musicianship at a very young age. She started taking piano lessons in third grade and has been singing in choirs as long as she can remember.

She is a member of the Honors College and performs in a capella and collegium groups.  Outside of school, she sings in a church choir.

“It’s a passion I’ve had all my life,” Narum said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Regents professor Dr. Linda Di Fiore recognized Narum’s potential as a career vocalist early and, although she typically works with graduate students, she started working with Narum as a freshman.

“She possesses a ‘career voice’ and has very keen artistic instincts,” Di Fiore said.

Di Fiore said a soprano singer’s voice reaches full maturity during the late teenage years and early twenties. However, a mezzo-soprano voice, which is slightly lower pitched than sopranos, doesn’t fully develop until approximately age 35.

Narum has made many developments in her presentation, technique and artistic abilities during her time at UNT, and while she is many years away from complete vocal maturity, her voice is very strong and worthy of attention, Di Fiore said.

“Alyssa has been constantly competitive at UNT, even with grad students,” Di Fiore said.

Prior to winning the Presser Scholarship, Narum was the only undergraduate finalist for the Winspear opera competition, and was awarded Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Vocal Studies in 2012.

Narum plans to use the scholarship money for applications and auditions for graduate school, as well as auditions for the Young Artist Alliance vocal competitions.

“When you’re one of the best at UNT, that makes you nationally competitive,” Di Fiore said.

The Presser Foundation was unavailable for comment.

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