This past Thursday I journeyed to Baltimore's Morgan State University, where I had been engaged to conduct a vocal Master Class. I have been conducting Master Classes for many years at many different universities, but nothing could have prepared me for the warm and caring reception that I received at Morgan State.
The students were of superior vocal talent and gave themselves over emotionally and mentally with a wonderful sense of respect for their art and for me. From the moment I arrived I was afforded absolute care and love both in a most professional manner--a rarity in these times. I was met by Samuel Springer, Morgan State's musical director, whose gracious and gentlemanly attitude put me at total ease. We arrived at the Music School, which is one the most phenomenal state-of-the-art structures I've ever seen on a college campus, and it was beyond exciting. I noticed my picture was up all over the office doors, hallways, and bulletin boards. Sam, as he is called, showed me to the office of Vincent Dion Stringer, artistic director of the Fine Arts Program and my good friend. If you've followed my blogs you may remember when I blogged about Vincent's and my recent re-acquaintance. It was Vincent who invited me down to Morgan State, having known my work from past experience, and our reunion meeting was joyous!
Later, we were joined by Janice Chandler who now occupies a very special place in my heart. She is on Voice faculty and served as hostess for my class. To say that we hit it off is putting it mildly. She is, I'm told, a very fine soprano and, judging from our many conversations, shares some of the same standards as I. The Master Class went very well. The voices ranged from counter tenors (or male sopranist), to lovely lyric female voices, impassioned young male tenors, and baritones. I was very taken by a young man named Joseph Johnson whose rendition of Mean Ole Lion was just great. Another unusual gift was the counter tenor, Patrick--simply sensational. It is, of course, difficult to mention everyone, but I can't forget Raquel Jennings, whose star shone very brightly. I felt I was where I needed to be, giving back to those who are ready to receive.
I'll be back there during the summer on faculty for their Opera Workshop. I want to thank everyone who made it an experience never to be forgotten: Vincent Dion Stringer, Samuel Springer, Janice Chandler, Charles Hayes, Eric Conway, Dwight Cook, and Monica Lupton--all pillars of Morgan State University.