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Singer returns to SMC

Jillian Barwick | Monday, February 18, 2013

Choosing a career path while in college is difficult, but before 2007 SMC alumna Lindsey Anderson could make that decision she needed to choose between her twin passions, biology and music. 

Anderson said she began her time at Saint Mary’s College believing she would one day become a neurosurgeon with her biology degree. Instead, she is now a mezzo-soprano opera singer with a Master’s degree in Music (Vocal Performance) from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a bachelor’s degree in music from Saint Mary’s.

“I sang for the latter half of my senior year of high school in the choir for fun. I really couldn’t read music, but my parents always played classical music, so it was in my ear, I guess. I always had a healthy appreciation for the classical realm of music,” Anderson said. “I was always a science geek, so that’s what I had planned to do. I had a plan. I think I was in fourth grade when I said I wanted to be a neurosurgeon when I grew up.”

Upon arriving at the College, Anderson took the pre-med route, a choice that she said she thoroughly enjoyed at first. Soon after, Anderson said she found herself wanting to be a part of the choir at the College.

“I had wanted to try out for the Saint Mary’s choir since I had been in my high school’s choir,” Anderson said. “It ended up being a fit after I auditioned. I credit Dr. Nancy Menk for turning me to music. She encouraged me and told me that I should be a music major. Without her, I don’t think that I’d be an opera singer today. I am so thankful for her.”

Anderson tried being a double major between biology and music at first, however, she found it difficult once her interests became more music-centered rather than pre-med, she said.

“It did not work. It was because I was trying to balance the two and was giving all of the energy and work to music which told me that was what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “I just got this opera bug and I would go to Moreau and check out almost all of the operas that we had and just listen to them. I loved them. I listen to opera every morning while drinking my coffee. It just excites me.”

After graduation, Anderson had a lot of catching up to do since she only had about three and a half years of vocal study under her belt at the time of graduation.

“The amount of vocal study I had up to that point was really not much compared to the people who have been singing since they were 12,” Anderson said. “I was auditioning for graduate schools and it is so different for applying. You don’t go and take tests and write essays, you go and sing songs and audition at all of these schools. I was still in my major- stage fright phase, but I was very well prepared.”

Anderson received many acceptance letters to graduate schools, however, she ended up choosing to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music, a choice she said she believes was the right one.

“I met some of my life-long operatic friends there. I think it was a very good decision for me to go there. I had a great teacher,” Anderson said. “We had what was called ‘Opera Workshop’ which prepares you for the business of opera for music majors like how to get auditions in the real world, getting an agent, business stuff like that.”

After receiving her master’s degree, Anderson continued on to train as a young artist with Opera Western Reserve and attended such training programs as Bay Area Summer Opera Theater in San Francisco and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

“More recently, I have worked with Opera Fayetteville and Opera North,” Anderson said. “I have been gaining bigger roles even more recently. Just this past two years I have been singing leading lady roles. It takes time, with the type of voice I have, to mature.”

As for any advice she has for the current music majors at Saint Mary’s, Anderson stresses that singing is a personal art form and students must always be passionate about their singing to succeed.

“You have to love the art that you create and if you love it, other people will it too because they will sense the joy that you put into it,” Anderson said. “The biggest thing is just to love what you do. If you love it and you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.