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Dr. Horner-Kwiatek offers workshops, seminars, presentations, and

masterclasses which can be tailored according to need.

  • Vocal Pedagogy for Composers

  • Ensemble Technique: Developing Listening and Awareness

  • Masterclasses in early and new music

  • Singing Hildegard: From the Page to the Stage



This seminar is designed to both introduce the topic of vocal pedagogy to student composers and to refresh and enhance the knowledge of those who already have some familiarity with the topic. This leads to an examination of the challenges of writing for the voice, and how to apply the basics of vocal process and function to achieve the desired vocal sound and effect. Ideally this would lead to a class project in which singers and composers collaborate on new pieces, to be performed at the end of the semester.


This seminar includes:


  • An introduction to the basics of vocal pedagogy, including breath support, phonation, resonance, formation of vowels and consonants and projection (including the Singer’s Formant.) What can the voice do and what can’t it do, compared with instruments? Discuss both the limitations and the possibilities.


  • An examination of this information in the context of vocal composition, addressing challenges such as:

  1. Vocal fach

  2. Range versus tessitura

  3. Vowel modification

  4. Timbres

  5. Styles

  6. Use of Extended Vocal Techniques

  7. Notation

  8. Text setting/clarity and audibility


  • A discussion of the challenges singers face learning and performing new work, including getting and keeping pitch if they don’t have perfect pitch, having to have the text be clearly audible given challenges of forces and range, using examples from the repertoire and in-class demonstrations.How can the composer help the singer while not compromising on his/her artistic vision?


Anecdotes will be shared to illustrate many of these topics



This workshop aims to help reinforce the work of the choral director by highlighting and developing the skills necessary for good ensemble singing. This includes:


  • strengthening and building relationships between the members of the ensemble

  • Establishing the leadership of the conductor

  • Developing a collaborative relationship between conductor and singers

  • Developing communication and collaborative skills, including listening and awareness of others.


These goals for choral ensembles can be achieved employing tactics and workshop activities more commonly found in the corporate world. This workshop will illustrate the effectiveness of adapting the corporate strategies of team building to help serve the needs of the ensemble director in building a choir’s blend, accuracy, and “unity of intent.”  Strategies demonstrated will include:


  • Games that involve combining rhythm and speech, to develop co-ordination, awareness, and group identity.

  • Small group work, each group given the task to work on and create a specific part of a larger entity, such as a machine or an animal. Helps build the teamwork and collaboration needed in the SATB sections of a choir.

  • Developing both group and individual interpretive skills, including the use of different emotional states and/or colors to initiate the exploration of different sounds and vocal styles.

  • Team leading strategies, including exploration of different methods of communication and collaboration within the group.


A two or three-hour masterclass is offered for singers interested in exploring the performance and interpretation of early and/or new music.  Students can choose to bring pieces written before 1750 and/or from the 20th and 21st centuries.


The class will consist of:



A short talk, approximately 30 minutes, on the challenges of performance practice in singing early and/or new music, depending on the focus of the masterclass. Topics may include:


  • A discussion of the sources available to the performer and educator interested in finding out how this music might have been sung, including composer’s notes found in new music scores

  • An examination of the conflicting opinions and often confusing information on this subject: is there ever a “right” way to interpret?

  • Historicist or Presentist? Do we try to recreate the past or bring the past into the present?


This will be followed by a masterclass: the number of singers will be dependent on the length of the masterclass, TBD.


A list of the music chosen should be sent two weeks in advance.


Attention given to:


  • Breathing and phrasing: e.g. what to do when Bach treats the voice like an instrument: how to make breathing an integral part of the phrase.

  • Compositional difficulties: how to tackle rhythmic complexity, non-conventional vocal lines, extremes of range etc.

  • Style and interpretation: what did the composer intend?What do we mean by an “authentic” approach?

  • Communication of text: working with unconventional text choices; issues of vowel modification and diction; exploring ways to “get inside” the text.

  • Pedagogical issues: how to approach difficult passages while maintaining healthy vocal technique

SINGING HILDEGARD: FROM THE PAGE TO THE STAGE is a lecture/performance that, via Hildegard, focuses on the challenges of finding and performing medieval music. We will look at the manuscripts, examine Hildegard’s compositional style, and discuss differing ways of interpreting the notation, comparing different transcriptions of several of her chants including Caritas Habundat and O Viridissima Virga.


 Dr. Horner-Kwiatek will give performances of the chants under discussion to show the different approaches and results thereof. The presentation also deals with the challenges of programing Hildegard in a modern concert setting.

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