For soprano Amy Porter, opera is her magic flute


Growing up in church choirs and taking flute lessons, Amy Porter never gave much thought to her voice. She knew she could sing, but it wasn’t until high school, when she landed the role of Fiona in a production of Alan Jay Lerner’s “Brigadoon,” that she realized she might have. a real talent.

“I thought everyone looked like Julie Andrews when they sang ‘The Sound of Music’,” she said, explaining how the audience response surprised her. Born in New Orleans, Porter spent most of her school years in Orange, Texas, before returning to Louisiana to pursue flute and vocal performances in college.

There, the teachers encouraged her to cultivate her naturally lyrical sound by focusing on classical voice and opera. “My parents were both scientists and mathematicians,” she said. “So I was the eccentric… and basically I didn’t really learn opera until I was in college. And she hasn’t stopped learning since.

“This is one of the beauties of music – there is no stopping point,” she said. “You never get to a point where you know everything. The amount of music, skill and knowledge that exists in the world is almost endless. So it cannot be learned by one person.

With her doctoral dissertation almost written, Porter moved to Spokane in 2012 for a teaching position at Whitworth, then moved to Gonzaga’s music department, where she taught a variety of courses, including applied voice – c ‘ i.e. singing lessons – vocal pedagogy, musical literature and hearing training laboratories since 2013.

Today, in addition to his tenure as a permanent professor at Gonzaga, Porter is director of the university’s Discantus Treble Choir and artistic director of the Spectrum Singers. She is also Acting Director of Choirs and Vocal Studies in Gonzaga’s Music Department as well as Acting Director of Gonzaga Concert Choir.

As a professional soprano, Porter has performed numerous bel canto and other standard opera roles, including Königin der Nacht (“Die Zauberflöte”), Violetta (“La Traviata”), Lucia (“Lucia di Lammermoor “), Mimi (” La Bohème “), Marguerite (” Faust “), Contessa (” Le Nozze di Figaro “) and Alice (” Falstaff “), among others, ranging from contemporary to pre-classical repertoire.

Most recently, Porter has performed as a soloist with the Inland Northwest Opera, Spokane Symphony, Spokane Kantorei Choir & Collegium Orchestra and Chorale Coeur D’Alene. “I like to say that I decided I wanted to be on stage, not below,” she said.

But she never completely gave up the flute. In fact, beyond the myriad of vocal teachers and coaches who have driven her to improve over the years, Porter, now a Doctor of Musical Arts, attributes much of her early success to ” first studied other instruments. First of all, studying these instruments gave him a head start when it came to reading sheet music, understanding dynamics, and collaborating with other players.

“Being a flautist meant that I had already started to really understand music and really know how to read music very well at a much younger age than some of my classmates who might have just started singing,” said she declared.

And on another level, she explained, starting to study voice too early can be damaging, even dangerous. “You can have piano prodigies, violin prodigies, but there is no vocal wonder,” she said, explaining that unlike other instruments, the instrument of a vocal performer matures and ages like him.

Pitting a 7-year-old against a professional opera singer would be like expecting a tee-ball player to compete in the major leagues, she said. It is physically impossible. For young singers, Porter recommended the following:

“If a parent wants their child to be a great singer, ironically, starting classes later is usually a good idea because when you’re very young those vocal structures are really, really vulnerable and easy to damage,” he said. she declared.

“Reading music is the most important thing. Getting someone into a children’s choir is good. But if you want them to have great musicality, the # 1 goal should be to get them to take instrument lessons.

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