M4Arts voice student Stephanie Lorenz talks to us about how she discovered her passion for singing and her experience at The M Institute for the Arts.
When did you start singing?
I began singing as a little girl at about 4 years old with the Berliner Kinder Chor in Germany and became an honorary member upon relocating to Naples, Florida at the age of 6.
From then until I was 16, I was a ballerina at heart and was deeply involved with my ballet classes - dancing 5 days a week for 3 hours a day. I lived it. All this time, I was a member of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Chorale as well as my high school's choirs and vocal jazz ensemble.
How did you discover your passion for singing?
At 16, I was diagnosed with junior rheumatoid arthritis which caused me to step away from dance. I quickly filled my new found free time with voice lessons. I discovered my passion for singing classical music during my very first voice lesson.
My favorite memory of that day was when my new voice teacher asked me to sing a few scales with him on the piano. His pleased reaction to what he heard has been very special for me to this day. It was my first taste of using my voice to be expressive and I was hooked.
Growing as a Performer
What are your best memories as a performer?
There are two that I will never forget. The first time I stood on the stage with a real-deal opera singer next to me. I was 17 and singing the part of Liesel alongside Frederica von Stade in the Sound of Music. I had just started falling in love with operas and was obsessively listening to my 'Maria Callas: Masterclasses at the Julliard Conservatory' CDs. Hearing someone up close and personal like Frederica sealed the deal for me. I simply knew intuitively that I had to sing, too!
A few months later I experienced my most unique memory. I was asked to return to Germany to be the guest soloist at the Berliner Kinder Chor's Christmas Concerts at the Berliner Philharmonie and Konzerthaus Berlin. Those are memories that will always stay fresh in my memory. Life changing, one might say.
How did dance and modeling help you in your singing career?
Both dance and modeling have shaped me as a person and as a woman.
Dance for me was very natural in the sense that I loved moving my arms in a melodic and musical way. It taught me to be in touch with and aware of my body, the music and the rhythms. All of those are important to us as singers on and off the stage. Dance was more than a hobby; it was a huge time investment. It required an unusual amount of dedication, attention to detail, patience, repetition, self-awareness and determination. As well as musicality and a deep desire to be expressive. All of those things relate closely to my singing career now.
Modeling, on the other hand, gave me a sense of myself as a young lady. Although I can proudly say that my mother raised me with a lot of attention to the following, by partaking in certain modeling pursuits I learned more about poise, about presenting myself and even about acting. It was a healthy boost for my confidence.
What about being bilingual? Is that helpful?
I was born in Stuttgart and grew up partially in Berlin, Germany and partially in Naples, Florida. German was my first language, followed by English once I moved to the USA. This was always an immense leg up for me.
In fact, right at the start of the pandemic I was auditioning and studying in Germany when I was approached by Ralph Thomas Kappler, head of the Halo-School of German in Berlin. Upon hearing his approach to teaching German in small tailor-made groups, one on one, online and in person as well - I excitedly accepted a position as German Elocution Coach for professional opera singers. Some of my students have included singers from the Berlin Opera Academy during this last summer. If you need help with your German please check www.Halo-School.com.
What has been your main challenge as a singer and how did you overcome it?
For a long time, my main challenge was getting to a point at which I felt truly comfortable with my voice. As experienced as I was, I felt I lacked a sense of clarity about the technique of breath support, appoggio, etc. There was clearly still more homework to be done on my part.
When I met my current teacher everything changed for me. I have overcome my feelings of vocal insecurity thanks to the labor intensive technique work that we do together. Mindfully doing the work is how I am overcoming it.
What are your favourite composers?
Mozart, Verdi and Bellini are the first three that come to mind immediately. I have always gravitated towards singing Mozart. My voice thanks me for it. I am a particular fan of his many concert arias. I also adore singing Belcanto and verismo equally. I can't get enough of Verdi. For Lieder and Art Songs, I am a fan of Schubert, Grieg, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Rossini, just to name a few.
In this video you can see me performing 'Tornami a vagheggiar' from the opera Alcina by G. F. Handel.
Singing During the Pandemic
How did music help you during the pandemic?
Music has been my forward momentum or driving force during the pandemic. I've been blessed to have found a highly dedicated mentor and vocal coach in Maestra Capucine Chiaudani. However, she resides in Italy while I split much of my time between Berlin and SWFL.
During this past year and a half we have spent more than our fair share of time on Zoom calls. I was also able to stay involved with the Ft. Myers Symphonic Mastersingers directed by Shannon Arnold during the pandemic, because we found wonderfully resourceful ways to make the rehearsals work over Zoom, as well as with hybrid formats.
Last December we were able to pull off a Christmas Messiah with a beautiful orchestra in the parking lot of a church. Everyone was socially distanced with masks, and we had an unexpectedly large turn out.
Lastly, I have participated in numerous rare and treasured zoom masterclasses with the today's masters of opera [in part due to the current pandemic]. Artists have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge which has been a real inspiration to me.
Getting to Know M4Arts
How did you find the M Institute for the Arts?
I found the M Institute for the Arts through my teacher who introduced me to your summer masterclass series. I was so impressed by the lineup of incredible singers and was pleased to have been able to sing for several of them. Since then I have appreciated the school's willingness to experiment and find ways to work around the current issues raised by the pandemic. It has been a real Godsend to have access to these opportunities.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting to take voice lessons?
Do it! What do you have to lose? For me personally, singing is 100% cathartic and even meditative in a way. I need to sing for me to function at my best. I am not unusual. I think we were given this close connection between our voices and our souls. One is the balsam for the other. It's why we can hardly sing if we are not well in our hearts.
My only advice is listen to your body and never let someone push your voice to do things it won't. Singing should never hurt. Do your due diligence and practice a little everyday. Before too long, you will hear improvements and that is a very exciting feeling.
More About Stephanie
German soprano Stephanie Lorenz is a born performer. She first found her way to the stage at age four singing with the world-renowned Berliner Kinderchor in her native Germany. In 1991, her family moved to Florida and a six-year old Stephanie began dancing ballet.
Over the next ten years, she performed every supporting children’s role with the Miami City Ballet in their performances of “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky (directed by Edward Villella). She also sang as a charter member of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Jim Cochran. In addition to singing and dancing, Stephanie is a natural musician, taking to both the piano and clarinet as a child.
At age 14, Stephanie added acting and modeling to her resume. While participating in the International Modeling and Talent Association Competition in New York City, she won first place for Soaps & Sitcoms, first runner up for Monologues and the Best Overall Talent Award for her age division.
During this time, Stephanie also performed in productions such as “Guys & Dolls” and “My Fair Lady” with The Naples Players.
At age 15, she was chosen by Dr. Erich Kunzel, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, to sing alongside the mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, as Liesel in“The Sound of Music.” The concert was broadcast internationally by PBS.
At 16, Stephanie took to the stage of the Berliner Philharmonie as guest soloist, singing in the iconic Berliner Kinderchor Christmas Concert. The following year, the Berliner Kinderchor welcomed her back and Stephanie made her debut on the stage of the historic Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt.
In 2002, Stephanie completed a summer internship at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, serving as an Assistant to Opera Director Professor Dagny Mueller for the Berlin premiere of the opera ‘OSUD’ by Leoš Janáček.
Stephanie went on to accept a talent scholarship from Stetson University’s School of Music. She traveled and performed with the Stetson Singers ensemble and she also recorded a CD with Stetson voice faculty members, Dr. Stephen Ng and Professor Jane Christeson, “The Diary of One Who Vanished” (music by Leoš Janáček). In 2006, she performed the role of Anne in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by Otto Nicolai.
In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Stephanie studied with Professor Enza Ferrari and Dr. Daune Mahy from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music Summer Program in Urbania, Italy. It was here, Stephanie added Italian to her language fluency that includes her native German and English and conversational French and Spanish.
Stephanie finished her studies under the guidance of Dr. Craig Maddox and received a Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance. After graduation, she returned to the stage in Berlin in 2019, participating in the Berlin Opera Academy’s Emerging Opera Artist Program. She also performed as Sarah Good in Berlin Opera Academy’s Opera Fest performances of “The Crucible” by Robert Ward. She attended the Berlin Summer University Arts Intensive Opera Training Masterclass with Janice and Jonathon Alder and Cheryl Studer.
Since then, Stephanie has studied with the Italian soprano and M4Arts faculty member, Capucine Chiaudani, as well as, with the American Stage Director, Chuck Hudson.
To learn more about Stephanie you can visit www.stephanielorenz.com