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April 21, 2013

World famous singer Marilyn Horne right at home in Norman

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Eavesdropping on one late afternoon session in the Pittman Recital Hall, found Horne commenting on a student’s skills in no uncertain terms. This young opera singer was getting his tuition dollar’s worth in terms of blunt albeit invaluable constructive criticism.

During Horne’s evening master class in March she stopped a student mid-aria to demonstrate how it should be properly sung.

The difference in timbre, control and vocal majesty brought to mind the comparison of a solid 4-door sedan and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

Horne’s instruction is in such a pleasantly matter of fact and caring way that most students probably never take offense. They’re receiving a caliber of instruction that most in their field won’t ever experience.

“I want these sessions to be friendly,” Horne said. “But I’m told that I’m very direct about what I say.”

You may trust that sugar-coating is involved.

“I like the quality of the students that I get to work with at OU,” Horne said. “It would be very distressing if they weren’t of a high level. I don’t think I could hack it if they were not.”

During an exciting career in opera and popular music, she hadn’t ever considered teaching but it’s readily apparent now the diva is a natural pedagogue. Horne had always been a student of singing technique, concentrating on refining her own skills. Currently she also teaches at Oberlin College, Manhattan School of Music and her main position at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she’s the chairperson.

“OU students have some very fine voices and I think it’s getting better all the time,” Horne said. “I’m told we have a wonderful group of people coming in this fall.”

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