By Kathy L. Collins
For six weeks this summer University of South Florida graduate and Riverview High School alumna Lorena Lopez, will have the opportunity to live an experience of a lifetime. Lopez is a singer and she will be attending the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.
Lopez said, “The AIMS program in Austria is one of the leading vocal institutes in the United States and many professional musicians have used it as a spring board to bridge the gap between the pre-professional and professional world. Programs like these are what help young artists refine their skills in singing and performing so that they are then able to take it into the professional realm. The institute provides a different learning environment other than the university in which to grow. It’s a different experience when one is immersed in the culture and origins of the music one is studying.”
Lopez added, “I will be studying the tradition of the German art song, or the German Lied, which originated in Austria and is also the place where such composers as Mozart and Beethoven resided. The place itself has great historical meaning to the art form and gives context to what we as singers think of in a very abstract way.”
While in Austria, Lopez will participate in German classes, weekly coaching, lessons and master classes with world renowned singers and experts. She will have the opportunity to give recitals and attend many great performances.
Lopez has been singing since she was a child. Lopez said, “I sing because it’s what I most excelled at as a student in middle and high school and was encouraged by friends and teachers to continue to sing. I also used to be very embarrassed of my voice because it didn’t sound like my peers’ voices sounded; my voice was bigger than the average high school student. I began taking serious voice lessons as a sophomore in high school and have continued on through college.”
Lopez graduated from Riverview High School in 2008. She has fond memories of participating in both music and drama in high school. Lopez said, “Drama took the lead over operatic singing when I was in high school. After all, we had one of the best drama programs in the state thanks to our late director, Daron Hawkins. Drama is where I really developed my love for music and performance. I was also very heavily involved in choir, which was my gateway into studying music in college and as a potential career.”
After graduating from high school, Lopez attended USF and graduated this year with a double major in psychology and music. Lopez decided to follow a rigorous academic program at USF because she said music and psychology make a good match. Her future plans include graduate school where she hopes to study music therapy. She would like to work with disabled children and adults.
At USF Lopez studied under the direction of Dr. Brad Diamond. She has been a member of the USF Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. James Bass. When Lopez was in high school, she had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall with the choir. While most would think that performing at Carnegie Hall once is a remarkable thing, Lopez had a second opportunity. She appeared again with the USF Chamber Singers.
The second time, Lopez said, “Was much more profound and meaningful to me. It was only the USF Chamber Singers on the stage doing a solo set and premiering a brand new piece of choral music. I was also more mature as a person and as a singer and felt that my contribution was much more important to the performance and the legacy of the group.”
According to Lopez, singing classical music is not one note.
“On the contrary, classical music and classical singing are formed by so many other factors and layers of human thought and emotion. On a very profound level, song is an expression of the self and provides a glimpse into the psyche of the human mind,” said Lopez.
For more information on the AIMS program, visit www.aimsgraz.com.