Mentors, Teachers, and Influences
The Principles, Techniques and Methodologies did not come out of a vacuum. Rather, they are the result of years of influence on Linda by some of the greatest singers, musicians, and thinkers of our time.
In 1995, Linda read Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way. The book affected her deeply. Linda subsequently attended an Artists’ Way workshop with Julia at The Esalen Institute. During the workshop, Julia revealed to the class that she wished she could sing well (she called herself “a bad alto”) but got up the courage to sing a lullaby she had written. When Linda noticed she was not breathing, and that her voice was actually very high and very pretty, Linda initiated a conversation about singing technique. Julia subsequently studied with Linda for a number of months. However, it was Linda who benefited by become a dedicated disciple of The Artists’ Way artistic recovery techniques. They are infused into every aspect of Transformational Voice.
The lineage of the Technique can be traced back to the early 19th century. Honoring the lineage – those who came before, and upon whose shoulders we stand – gives honor and respect where it is due.
Linda’s first voice teacher was Carol Schumacher Reich, who taught in the Beverly Hills and Los Angeles public school systems. She remains a passionate and charismatic choral conductor, singer, and violinist. Carol was responsible for lighting the flame of many young musicians on the west side of Los Angeles in the 1970’s who went on to become professionals of the highest caliber.
Lyric Soprano Irene Hanna Pisk and her husband Paul Amadeus Pisk, Composer and Musicologist came into Linda’s life while she was in high school. The Pisk’s had been personal friends and colleagues of composers Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, and Hanna has premiered some of Berg’s works. They led long, deep philosophical, cultural, and musical discussions about great ideas with their students in order to open our minds.
At the University of Southern California, Linda had the opportunity to coach for two years with Gwendolyn Koldofsky. A grand lady and accompanist of the highest order, Koldofsky first exposed Linda to the art of song singing, which she fell in love with, and collaborative piano. Linda remembers Koldofsky politely insulting her by saying she sounded too much like an opera singer, NOT a song singer! Koldofsky had been the legendary accompanist to the dramatic soprano and great lieder interpreter Lotte Lehmann.
Linda transferred to the Indiana University School of Music in her junior year in 1975. It was a golden time for IU, with extraordinary faculty and students. The atmosphere at IU during this time was intense, heady, thrilling, and often brutal.
Through the luckiest accident of her life, Linda ended up in the voice studio of Visiting Professor Gerhard Hüsch, who had been the preeminent German Baritone of the war years, one of the greatest art-song interpreters ever, and the first singer to record the song cycles of Schubert. He encouraged aspiration to the highest levels of vocalism, expression, musical collaboration, and musicianship. His teaching techniques have become embodied in our Methodologies, and much of our Technique comes from his lineage of teachers, who harken back to the golden age of opera singing.
Hüsch’s teacher had been Hans Emge, whom he said had been cast as Don José in the first production of Carmen in Germany. Emge’s teacher had been one of the great Italian pedagogues of his day, Enrico Delle Sedie, author of a treatise on technique called The Art of Singing. Going back even further, Delle Sedie’s teacher was Cesario Galeffi, and as Delle Sedie was born in 1822, that takes one branch of Linda Brice’s lineage all the way back in the Italian Bel Canto tradition to at least 1800.
The great Dramatic Soprano Eileen Farrell held classes at IU in “Non-Classical Singing for Classical Singers” which inspired many of the students there to attempt to sing jazz or pop and NOT sound like opera singers while doing so! Farrell’s speech-based approach for crossover was way ahead of its time. Her kindness, authenticity, and non-diva attitudes and lifestyle were also worthy of emulation. Farrell was one of the greatest opera singers of her generation, but her heart was in jazz. She could sing anything! Linda found her a personal, vocal and musical inspiration.
Upon entering graduate studies, Linda studied with Soprano Virginia Zeani. Linda is especially grateful to Zeani for teaching her traditional, old school breathing technique – the root of bel canto—and its historical lineage. This was especially important because Linda had been a lifelong sufferer from allergies and asthma, rendering her underpowered and often hoarse. Zeani was one of the greatest coloraturas of her time, but she was so versatile that she sang across several voice categories. She still holds the world’s record for the most number of performances of the role of Violetta in La Traviata. Her teacher was Aureliano Pertile, one of the most important tenors of his time. Pertile’s teacher was composer Orefice, and conductor Gaetano Bavagnoli. Bavagnoli’s teacher was his father Manilo Bavagnoli, who was himself a conductor and voice teacher. This branch of Linda Brice’s lineage can therefore be traced back to approximately 1830, to the time of Bellini.
Linda also studied with pioneering African-American Coloratura Soprano Reri Grist. Grist, a singer of beauty and refinement, had been chosen by Leonard Bernstein for the part of Consuelo in the original cast of West Side Story, She went on to become one of Sir Georg Solti’s favorite interpreters of Mozart. Born in Spanish Harlem, and originally a professional dancer, she was a master of exquisite diction, purity of tone, and fastidious musicianship. Linda recently reconnected with Reri at Santa Fe Opera, where Linda’s student Nicole Cabell was singing the role of “Leila” in The Pearl Fishers. The picture below shows the three generations. It was a grand reunion!
Balint Vazsonyi, pianist was Linda’s unofficial musical coach during her graduate studies at IU. A towering musical mind and intellectual Renaissance Man, Balint created an artistic circle of his students who would meet regularly for all-night goulash parties and riveting musical discussions and performances. From Balint, Linda learned about the legacy of pianistic culture going back to Liszt. Balint had entered the Franz Liszt Academy as a child and was one of the last students of the great Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor Ernst von Dohnanyi. Balint was also an entrepreneur, producing films on the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, as well as a political thinker, author, and consultant.
Linda’s colleague Sharon Steinberg currently serves as a Cantor of a Jewish Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida. One night in a practice room, in the middle of the night, Sharon and Linda had a pivotal discussion about the subject of forward focus (“singing in the mask”) and its crucial importance to vocal freedom. No one was ever more articulate on the subject. Linda and Sharon recently renewed their friendship on Facebook and look forward to continuing their discussions on vocal culture.
Linda spent a summer in Nice, France working with Coloratura Soprano Lorraine Nubar and accompanist/coach Dalton Baldwin at the Académie Internationale d’Eté de Nice. Linda walked into Lorraine’s vocal technique class to observe numerous tenors crawling around on the floor while singing Rossini fioratura passages at the speed of light. An absolute master of freeing the voice via uncontrolled movement, many of Lorraine’s innovative vocal freedom techniques have been integrated into Transformational Voice’s technical toolkit.