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Art & Life with Catherine Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Miller, Artistic Director for the Mentoris Vocal Competition.

Catherine, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am a pianist and vocal coach working with professional opera singers. Playing the piano is just something that all sides of my family have done; my mother studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England and at the Vienna Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria. My father’s mother and aunt were also piano teachers. As a child, I would often wake up to the sounds of my mom’s piano students, many of whom came for lessons at 7 am. I was inspired to play the pieces I heard them playing and as I grew older, I was intrigued by my father’s blasting of Leontyne Price singing Verdi just about every weekend! Because my parents met each other in Vienna in the 1960s, I’ve always had an interest in learning German and other foreign languages and was delighted to discover that I could combine my love of languages with my love of music by having a career as a vocal coach and pianist for classical singers.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As a graduate of the University of Southern California, a Fulbright Scholar to the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary and a graduate of the Juilliard School, I am grateful to have an international career as a pianist for opera singers both on the concert stage and at summer festivals from Hawaii to Austria. As the Artistic Director of the Mentoris Vocal Competition, I am thrilled to be able to assist young, classical singers in their pursuit of an operatic career. Some of the world’s greatest opera singers are Americans. Because our nation is so very ethnically diverse, we have produced some of the greatest Opera singers from Marion Anderson to Nadine Sierra.

The Pasadena Area Trust gives the funds for our Competition awards.  For over 40 years the Trust has financially supported some of the leading singers of today, such as baritones Rod Gilfry and Craig Colclough,  sopranos Angel Blue and Janai Brugger, tenors Charles Castronovo and Joshua Guererro and mezzo sopranos Michelle DeYoung and Ronnita Miller.

My goal for the Mentoris Vocal Competition is to be able to give away as much financial support as possible to young opera singers so that they can afford the best lessons, coachings and training that is possible here in the United States. Pursuing and operatic career can be expensive and without the support of generous donors like Mr. Robert Barbera of the Barbera Foundation, we would not be able to present this wonderful opportunity to the Pasadena Community and support these rising stars of the opera world.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Financial support is available! There are several Classical Vocal Competitions in the Southern California area: The Mentoris Vocal Competition, The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Los Angeles District, The Loren Zachary Vocal Competition and The Palm Springs Opera Guild Auditions, just to name a few. The Opera Buffs also holds scholarship auditions every year for young classical singers.  It is important to never give up on your dreams to be an opera singer, even if it means taking the proverbial ‘day job’!  Studying foreign languages like French, German and Italian is now as inexpensive as ever, with the availability of language apps and videos on YouTube.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The Mentoris Vocal Competition will be held at Pasadena City College on Sunday, February 23 at 2 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Take a look at the website mentorisvoice.org to make a financial contribution and discover details about the Competition.

Contact Info:

  • Email: cmiller@mentorisprojectvocalcompetition.org
  • Website: mentorisvoice.org
  • Phone: 626-357-7088

Image Credit:
Elle Valera, photographer

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