Inside the Utah Opera Chorus: Part III
Our very own Director of Education and Community Outreach for the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, Paula Fowler, is also part of the Utah Opera Chorus. She answered some questions we had about her tenure in the chorus.
How long have you been in the Utah Opera Chorus?
I was in my first production with Utah Opera 21 years ago, and my list tells me I’ve been in 58 productions. It’s hard to believe.
Tell us your favorite production or something unique that you’d like to share?
I love the emotional journeys choruses get to take – we get to flex our emotions, give them exercise. I really enjoyed the four acts of ‘Orphee’ when we mourned at a funeral, got angry in hell, were serene in heaven, and then rejoiced at a celebration. We get to explore a similar range of emotions in ‘Turandot.’
It’s wonderful to sing in a chorus where each person’s vocal training and polish really make a difference. Opera is the only art form in which amateur singers (singers who pursue other careers and maintain music-making as an avocation) can still be part of a professional musical production.
What does it feel like to perform on stage in front of an audience?
I like feeling the energy of an audience’s attention, but often we get so caught up in the story we are all telling that I lose consciousness of onlookers. I like thinking of myself as just one of the moving colors on the canvas, or one note in the harmony, that the director, conductor and composer have created.
What is your current occupation?
I am presently Director of Education & Community Outreach for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. I have been Utah Opera’s Education Director for 17 years. When I took the job, I was able to meld my avocation in singing and opera with my vocation as an educator. I taught AP/IB English and Humanities at West High School for the previous decade, and I taught in the Writing Program at the University of Utah before that.
Will you elaborate on your training in music?
I have a minor in music composition attached to my bachelor’s degree in English. I play piano as well as campsong guitar, recorder, and also a bit of ukulele, thanks to my father. My greatest musical development occurred while singing for several years in Dr. Bernell Hales’ Chamber Choir at the University of Utah in the 1980s; that experience spurred me to decades of private vocal studies with a variety of voice teachers, including JoAnn Ottley and Faye Muntz. Over the years, I have given several solo vocal recitals and many duet concerts with my opera friends, soprano Carolyn Klassen and her husband, baritone/pianist Tom Klassen.