Prof. Judith Kellock - Cornell University

Prof. Judith Kellock - Cornell University

As part of her recital-tour of South Africa, Prof Judith Kellock, presented Masterclasses at S.A. College of Music at the University of Cape Town. It was a tremendous bonus that Peter Louis van Dijk and myself managed to get this to happen at UCT. At the invitation Prof. Virigina Davids – Head of the Voice Department at the SACM, Miss Kellock worked with students with a large range of skills, of both Under- and Post-Gradute level. Miss Kellock’s class drew substantial interest from faculty and students alike and was attended by all voice students and the full teaching faculty as well as UCT Alumni such as Belvedere Competition winner Pretty Yende. Miss Kellock’s informative class was characterised by her ability to go to the heart of what would provide the most beneficial information to each of the students in the limited time.

Miss Kellock focused on technical and expressive detail with each student. The meaning of the text and characterisation was emphasised in Lieder as well as Opera. Students were encouraged to think “outside the box” and experiment with material with which they were very well familiar. Technical themes that recurred throughout the class, were an excess of tension, muscular activity and “effortfulness” and Miss Kellock’s teaching assisted students to find a more direct approach to their performance. Very useful work included exercises to create fluid coloratura, creating meaning out of the text and French and German diction. 

The students who performed were:

Sunnyboy Dladla (Tenor) – taught by Prof. Hartman – presented the taxing tenor aria “Vedro” from “La Scala di Seta” by Rossini. Sunnyboy performed the entire role of Dorvil in the Alex Fokkens/Lara Bye production earlier this year, where his comic flair and acting ability was matched by an outstanding vocal performance that won both audience and critical acclaim. Miss Kellock foccused on the coloratura runs in this aria. Her work with Sunnyboy on Rossini’s Bel Canto style contributed to his preparation for his upcoming role as Nemorino in the Cape Town Opera/UCT Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’amore”.

Friedl Mitas (Soprano) – taught by Prof. Davids – sang the “Jewel Song” from “Faust” by Gounod. Miss Kellock worked on making the interpretation more relevant to the dramatic context, and found innovative ways of making the aria fresh for the singer who had  performed it many times. Friedl will be making her Debut with the Cape Town Philharmonic on Saturday 22 August in the CPO Youth Concerto Festival  conducted by Theodor Kuchar.

Antoinette Blyth (Soprano) – taught by Dr. Liebl – performed “O! Quand je d’or” by Franz Liszt. As director of Cape Town’s Philharmonia Choir, Antoinette has extensive music experience as a choral conductor and voice teacher. Miss Kellock focused on aspects of breathing and tension held in the face. Most revealing was when she made Antoinette lie on her back and perform the song, as an illustration of breathing technique.

Phindiwe Nomyanda sang “Seit ich ihn Gesehen” from Schumann’s “Frauenlieben und -leben”. Work focused primarily on German diction and placing the song in context within the cycle.

Thembinkosi Mgetyengana (Tenor) – taught by Mr. Tikolo – sang Bellini’s “Ma rendi pur”. His clear voice and easily produced high notes impressed, and Miss Kellock worked on Bel Canto line and voice production. In particular, avoiding an over-active physical approach to the sound production was encouraged.

Accompanists for the Masterclass were UCT Vocal Coaches Kurt Haupt and myself Albert Combrink.

After the tremendous interest that our recital of American Song “Paper Wings” generated both in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, students and faculty members were even more keen to benefit from Miss Kellock’s knowledge and experience, and we hope to have the privilege of having her back at the SACM in future.