We chatted with voice student Thomas Whitson to find more about his passion for singing, his favourite repertoire and how being part of our Young Artist Program helped him discover a huge sense of accomplishment and personal growth.
Hi Thomas, great to see you and thank you for your time. What was your experience discovering a passion for singing?
My best friend’s parents were the choir directors at my school so I participated in all the choirs, ensembles, and musicals that I could. I took lessons sporadically and went to vocal camps for a couple summers but most of my high school singing experience was choral.
We traveled from Tokyo to ACDA conventions in the States and also went to Vienna and Budapest my senior year so I had a great experience singing in high school.
When did you decide to take voice lessons?
I started taking lessons more seriously going into my senior year of high school because I wanted to sing in college. Halfway through my senior year I got cold feet and decided not to pursue music. Even though the University of Miami had a good music school I never decided to take lessons or even sing in a group while I was there. It’s something that I’ve always regretted.
Just before the pandemic started I decided to take lessons at M Institute for the Arts and it’s been great. Even though most of my instruction has been through Zoom I have made huge improvements. I’m so glad that I decided to do it after a decade hiatus from singing and being part of the Young Artist Program is wonderful.
How much did music help you during this challenging period?
"My vocal lessons have been like therapy during these crazy times. The progress I have made over the past year has given me a huge sense of personal growth and accomplishment"
Even in the virtual setting my sessions have given me tremendous joy that has really helped me get through this pandemic with a more positive attitude.
How is being a student at the M Institute for the Arts?
"My experience with M Institute for the Arts Young Artist Program has been great!"
Even when performing in person wasn’t possible, the zoom recitals were a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone a bit.
Having them at the end of the semester and recording them allowed me to see how much I improved semester to semester over the course of the year. Now that I am vaccinated and able to practice and perform in person, I feel that I can make bigger strides to becoming a better singer.
Do you have any favourite repertoire pieces to perform?
I have a love-hate relationship with Mozart because his tenor arias are beautiful but tricky. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I sing Un’aura amorosa from Cosi Fan Tutte or Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon from the Magic Flute. These songs reveal so much about your technique that they make all the hard work worth it!
I also enjoy performing French arias like Ah, Leve-toi Soleil! (Romeo et Juliette) and I'm looking forward to adding one of my favorite arias Je crois entendre core (Pearl Fishers) to my repertoire!
West Side Story is my favorite Broadway musical so I love to perform Maria especially now that I can hit the high B flat that I couldn’t before I started.
Any favorite singers?
Nicolai Gedda, Fritz Wunderlich, Luciano Pavarotti, Javier Camarena are some of my favorite Tenors. My ultimate goal would be to sing Ah mes amis and Pour mon ame from La Fille du Regiment like Pavarotti or Camarena.
What would you say about your current voice teacher?
"I can’t say enough good things about Elizebeth. My lessons are both fun and highly productive. She is great at figuring out what works for me and it feels like a collaborative effort. I owe a tremendous amount to her for reigniting my passion for singing and helping me become a better singer!"
To get started with Voice Lessons fill our new student placement here.
To apply to our Young Artist Program please visit www.m4arts.org/yap