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BM Music Performance - Voice Emphasis

The Vocal Performance degree at Utah State University provides a robust and comprehensive educational foundation for students wishing to learn artful and healthy techniques of singing in both classical and musical theatre styles. This degree track prepares students for continued graduate study or immediate entrance into the professional world as a voice teacher or performer. USU vocal performance majors receive unparalleled performance opportunities in the primarily undergraduate program ranging from summer internships with Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, founded by Dr. Michael Ballam, to close collaboration with the college’s Department of Theatre.

In addition to private voice instruction from exceptional pedagogues, Voice Performance majors at Utah State receive innovative classroom instruction in vocal pedagogy, the languages of classical singing, repertoire, and close mentorship from an experienced and professional faculty as they work towards their goals in personal musical excellence. Annual productions of operas, musicals, and scenes programs provide all students with ample performance opportunities where the invaluable skills of acting and stagecraft are taught by knowledgable faculty members and guest directors.


Cindy Dewey

Head, Department of Music
Voice Program Coordinator
Applied Voice Instruction

Michael Ballam

Opera, Coaching

Dallas Heaton

Opera and Collaborative Artist

Jennifer Erickson

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Laurie Hart

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Melissa Hamilton

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Heather Honaker

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Kimberly Muhlestein

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Venecia Wilson

Faculty Associate
Applied Voice Instruction

Voice Performance majors take a combination of core music classes to perfect general musicianship and emphasis courses that teach the specific skills singers need to master the art and technique of singing. Course highlights include a year-long study of vocal pedagogy that concludes in a guided practicum, a three-semester sequence of diction courses on the primary languages of singing, a two-semester sequence of vocal literature including recital programming, and multiple performance opportunities in the two required degree recitals, opera/musical productions, and the weekly masterclass and recital hour. The students’ training is also supplemented by frequent visiting master artists and guest performers/directors.

The most advanced students have the option of being part of the scholarship-receiving Manon Caine Russell Opera Outreach Quartet, providing these promising students additional performance and leadership opportunities.

Although students come from varying backgrounds with different levels of experience, those that have the most success as Voice Performance majors at Utah State are those that are motivated, dedicated, and involved. They exhibit a passion for communicating through song and typically have had some choral or solo vocal training before coming to college. Strong sight-singing and piano skills are also beneficial for all voice performance majors.

View the degree map online in the University Catalog

In addition to applying for admission to the University, all candidates must audition to gain admission into the Department of Music.

Candidates must prepare two selections, either:

A) two art songs, or

B) one art song and one aria

One selection should be in a foreign language, if possible, and both should be memorized.

As an option, the candidate may present one musical theatre piece in addition to the two required pieces mentioned above.

An accompanist will be provided, but candidates may bring their own.

In addition to the sung selections, the candidate’s sight-singing ability, aural acuity, and grasp of music theory will also be assessed through brief diagnostic exams on the day of the audition.

No additional application or audition is required to be considered for a Vocal Talent Scholarship, although such awards will only be given to intended Voice Performance or Choral Education majors.

Additional specific audition information, including this year’s audition dates, can be found on the admissions & auditions page.


USU Opera Theatre

Utah State’s dramatic musical ensemble that produces annual fully-staged operas/musicals and scenes programs.

USU Choirs

Utah State hosts four different choirs that perform and record regularly throughout the region.

Choral Scholars

Utah State’s student-created and student-led small vocal ensemble.

Additional information on choirs and vocal ensembles at USU is found on our Ensembles Page.

Under the tutelage of experienced and distinguished faculty, graduates of Utah State University’s Vocal Performance program regularly continue on after graduation to achieve their goals, whether that be running a successful private studio or performing professionally on some of the nation’s most influential stages. Utah State Voice Performance majors have been MONC and NATS regional finalists in addition to receiving admission to some of the nation’s finest graduate programs.

Notable faculty:

Cindy Dewey, soprano, Music Department Head, Governor of NATS Cal-western Region

Michael Ballam, tenor, Professor of Voice, Founding General Director of Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre

Notable alumni:

Tamara Mumford, critically-acclaimed mezzo soprano, has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Opera, LA Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, and multiple festivals.

Jamilyn Manning-White, soprano, has sung with Glimmerglass, Utah Festival Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, and the Broadway promotional cast of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

Mary-Jane Lee, soprano, currently part of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist program, past winner of Cecilia Bartoli scholarship.

Anthony Eversole, baritone, emerging artist recently having performed with Ash Lawn Opera, the Castleton Festival, and Utah Festival Opera.

Notable guest directors/composers/master teachers:

Colin Baldy, director

Dr. Robert Boury, composer

Oren Brown, vocal pedagogue, professor at Julliard, multiple masterclasses at USU

Stefan Espinosa, director, Utah Festival Conservatory supervisor, instructor of theatre at Idaho State

Thomas Glenn, tenor and Grammy recipient 

Lynn Helding, mezzo soprano, vocologist, professor at USC, associate editor of Journal of Singing

Daniel Helfgot, director and author