Written by Kaitlyn Alkass
Julia Foster, Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera, has a spectacular resume holding voice performance degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BM), the Eastman School of Music (MM), and the Moores School of Music, University of Houston (DMA). Not only is she an active educator but also an avid performer. She has played a variety of characters in opera productions around the world, including Elisetta in Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreta with The Third Ward Opera Company in Houston, Rose Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, and Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Salzburg, Austria. Aside from her many operatic title roles, Dr. Foster has also performed for political figures such as the President of the Czech Republic.
Foster currently teaches and coordinates a voice area of over seventy-five students, teaching music in both classrooms and studios. She has also performed with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. Foster strives for excellence and has a passion for impacting the community in a positive way as exhibited in her partnership with Winter Park High School.
“This is the second time that I have partnered with Winter Park High School,” says Foster. “My Vocal Pedagogy course lends itself to this sort of collaboration because we have talented students at Rollins that benefit from hands-on experience teaching voice.”
Dubbing it a “natural partnership,” Foster and her students in the Vocal Pedagogy course have the opportunity to work with the talented Winter Park High School singers who have not been afforded the option to work on their singing technique individually.
“My vocal pedagogy students learned about the anatomy and physiology of the voice as well as pedagogical techniques in class, but so much learning takes place by actually explaining concepts to another person, offering various suggestions, and seeing what a student’s response may be.”
Students in Foster’s course were paired with either a Winter Park High School student or a Rollins student that demonstrated an interest in learning about vocal performance. The students would explore vocal technique exercises and classical and non-classical songs in preparation for a final workshop performance at the end of the semester. “The goal of each one-on-one lesson was to find a natural, free, and beautiful vocal quality that would allow the singer to express their songs musically and dramatically,” Foster stated. “I encouraged my students to seek out opportunities to teach voice as they continue to grow as musicians. In collaboration with Matthew Swope and Joseph Kemper, choral directors at Winter Park High School, we were hoping that this introduction into solo singing would inspire the children to continue studying voice whether with a solo voice teacher or through their school ensembles.”
This type of community engagement reflects Rollins’ core values of service and impacting the community in a positive manner. Foster’s course is an example of service-learning as an essential extension of the classroom.