We knew her when: Q&A with Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain

If you were fortunate enough to catch the Festival’s opening night concert featuring Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain, you know what an outrageous talent she is.  We had the chance to catch up with Ms. Mushegain just before she hopped on a plane to her next gig in Paris…

Festival Mozaic: Where did you grow up, and how did you start singing?

Karin Mushegain: I grew up in Pasadena, CA. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. But I started taking voice lesson in the sixth grade. That’s a very young age to start, but I had nasty elementary school music  teacher who made fun of my voice in class one day. I was so embarrassed I stopped singing all together. So my mom put me in lessons to get me excited about singing again.

FM: Where have you studied voice? 

KM: I’ve studied voice privately in Los Angeles, did my undergraduate training at Northwestern University, and my graduate training at UCLA.

FM: Favorite roles?

As Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola

KM: Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. I also love portraying Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel.  It’s so fun running around as a hyperactive boy for a few hours! And Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte is just a joy to sing because the music is so stunning.

FM: What are your top three desert-island pieces of music?

KM: Bernstein’s West Side Story ( the movie soundtrack), Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and the Gypsy Kings…cause if you’re stranded on a desert island there will be plenty of time for dancing!

As Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

FM: Who is a role model to you?

KM: Madeline Kahn is my idol!!!  She was an extraordinary singer and one of the greatest comedians of all time!!

FM: Dreams for the future?

KM: My dream is to keep singing the roles I love to sing in houses that nurture creativity and artistry…and also to have a family and be a mother. It’s a lot to ask for in a career that keeps you on the road 9-10 months of the year, but to have both successfully is my goal and dream.

Called “superb” by The New York Times and possessing an “ideal, dusky mezzo” by Opera Today, Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain is captivating audiences with her exciting, energetic portrayals. Her 2011-12 engagements include her role and company debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Virginia Opera, her New York City Opera debut as Flora in a new production of La Traviata, and her role and company debut as Stefano in Romeo et Juliette with Annapolis Opera. Engagements during the previous season included her return to New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera to sing the title role in Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas, her Austin Lyric Opera debut reprising the role of Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and her role debut as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Ash Lawn Opera. She also recently performed with Los Angeles Opera in their new production of Il Trittico, Opera Memphis as Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte, Opera Idaho as Angelina in La Cenerentola, Glimmerglass Opera as Alessandro in the US premiere of Handel’s Tolomeo and Tisbe, in La Cenerentola, and numerous roles and appearances with Pittsburgh Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Pittsburgh Symphony.


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2012 Summer Scrapbook, Part II

Best festival EVER!! The Summer portion of Festival Mozaic ended on Sunday with a bang, and we’ve been trying to catch our breath ever since.  Until then…

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We must be doing something right.

We at Festival Mozaic were so blown away to be featured on the Tablas Creek Winery blog recently.  Jason Haas has won the prestigious Wine Blog Award for Best Winery Blog twice now…and we’re on it.  What a coup!

Have a look for yourself – and try not to turn green with envy if you couldn’t get tickets!!

And remember – music is best when paired with the best wine.


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2012 Summer Scrapbook, Part I

The Festival is upon us!  And we’ve been so busy running from one incredible musical moment to the next that we haven’t taken the time to give updates.  A few highlights:

And in case you missed anything, here is a scrapbook from the first half of the Festival, with photos by Brian Lawler.  And now, back to the music!

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Chapel Hill ticket giveaway winner


Congratulations to Marcella for winning the recent ticket giveaway to Saturday night’s Chapel Hill performance!  We selected her name using the number-generating service at www.Random.org.  Thanks to all who participated, and we’ll see you at the Festival!

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Festival Fringe Focus: moira smiley & VOCO

I’ve just heard something…amazing: a quartet of young women known as moira smiley & VOCO. This is compelling and totally unique music…I’m increasingly blown away by it each time I put a disc in the player. [They] push the envelope of vocal music every which way – go there and be amazed.

– Kennebec Journal

Inga Swearingen, Moira Smiley, and April Guthrie of VOCO

We at Festival Mozaic talk a lot about programming performances that reflect the genius and spirit of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  None will do so as clearly as that given by moira smiley & VOCO with guest artist Inga Swearingen on July 21 as part of our Fringe Series.  Using various instruments like banjo, cello, accordion and body percussion along with tight vocal harmonies, Moira and VOCO bring a rascally exuberance to the Festival’s lineup.  Here, we chatted with Moira about her influences and what it’s like to perform such personal music for a crowd.

Festival Mozaic: When did your musical interest begin?

Moira Smiley: I started playing my older sister’s piano pieces by ear when I was four, and was dubbed ‘the little belter’ by my parents for singing folksongs that I learned from them at the top of my lungs around the house and farm where I grew up.

FM: Who are your musical role models? Heros? Inspirations?

MS: Musicians who travel and play with virtuosic humility and open-ness. Béla Bartók (Hungarian composer / pianist), Bobby McFerrin (American vocalist/conductor), Lena Willemark (Swedish vocalist/fiddler), Meredith Monk (composer / dancer / singer)…

FM: Do you approach different musical styles differently? How?

MS: Each musical style allows you to inhabit a culture of gesture, color and values. There are certainly common approaches in all the ones I’ve studied and practiced, but it is the differences that are thrilling.

Moira Smiley

FM: What differences do you notice between different listeners? E.g. A classical audience vs. a folk audience?

MS: People come to live music shows to be moved – whether moved to dance, to cry, to recognize themselves, to tickle their intellect. Having traveled between several networks of live venues throughout my career, I love to feel the spark of energy in any of those directions. Sometimes an audience wants more stories to tie everything together, and sometimes the fewer words the better.

FM: What is your all time desert-island favorite piece of music to play?

MS: Hmmmm…. improvisation, preferably with another human!

Moira Smiley, singer-composer, leads moira smiley & VOCO, travels the world (from los angeles) as a vocalist and creates music for dance, theatre and film.  Her voice, improvisations and compositions can be heard on feature films, documentaries, BBC, PBS, and on over 40 recordings including her recent albums “blink” (with VOCO) and “rua” (solo): fiercely spare and elegantly lush collections of warped traditionals and new songcraft.  She has sung with leading ensembles and artists around the world including Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, KITKA Vocal Ensemble, New World Symphony, Shakespeare Santa Cruz.  Featured in Lincoln Center, UCLALive, Royal Festival Hall, folk and classical music festivals across the U.S. and Canada, Moira’s work has received praise from Billboard to Gramaphone. www.moirasmiley.com and www.myspace.com/vocoinfo.

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Giveaway: TWO TICKETS TO CHAPEL HILL, 7/14, 7:30pm

We at Festival Mozaic are so excited about our lineup for this summer that we are feeling generous.  Very generous.  We’re giving away a pair of tickets to our most popular event, the Baroque Landscape concert at gorgeous Chapel Hill  on July 14 at 7:30pm.

If you’ve never attended this concert, you just don’t understand what you’re missing: a magical chapel overlooking paradise, panoramic views of vineyards, rolling hills, Belgian ales from locally revered beer guru Chuck Hiigel, picnicking on the patio, all followed by an evening of resplendent music performed by Music Director Scott Yoo and a host of the finest musicians on the planet.  Interested?

Here’s the deal: We want subscribers to the Festival Mozaic blog.  To win these tickets, scroll to the bottom of this page and look at the right sidebar.  See the link for “Follow blog via email?”  Click on that and enter your email address as directed.  You are now entered to win two tickets to the Chapel Hill concert AND you will recieve the latest and greatest news from your favorite music festival direct to your inbox.

We will take entries until Wednesday, July 11 at noon and will announce the randomly-selected winner by 5:00 that afternoon.  Spread the word, and good luck!

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