We will strive for perfection knowing all the while that perfection isn’t attainable but if we chase perfection we will catch excellence.
IT IS A VERY DIFFERENT THING TO STRIVE FOR LESS BECAUSE WE CANNOT ACHIEVE PERFECTION. THE FORMER IS NOBLE THE LATTER IS COMMON. AN ARTIST UNDERSTANDS THIS DIFFERENCE AND LIVES BY THE FORMER.
Kashu-do Studios is an international group of opera professionals who have the pursuit of excellence as a common process. We have worked together for over a decade and have enjoyed our efforts to the fullest. The main locations are in Germany (Nordrhein Westfalen, Berlin, München) and Vienna Austria. We have member teachers throughout Europe and the United States. As such, the studio is a growing network that is becoming valuable to its members. Our network includes not only successful professional singers but world-class coaches, stage directors, conductors, and agents. What unites us is a commitment to traditional operatic vocal qualities (i.e. strong voices that are heard easily over an orchestra without the aid of electronic amplification and are flexibly produced as to allow for wide dynamic range and be capable of rapid fioratura and smooth cantilena), musicianship of the highest order, idiomatic linguistic skills and well developed stagecraft. Our intensive masterclasses throughout Europe focus on developing those necessary skills. Beyond our work with singers, several burgeoning coaches have honed their skills with our dedicated group of coach-pianists-conductors.
It is true that the operatic landscape changes with the wind. Every season, it seems, brings new and fleeting trends in an effort to sell opera better, whether to copy trends in Musical Theater or Cinema or Video Games. Although we share certain elements with other media, Opera is unique in that the dramatic pulse of a work derives directly from the musical score. Composers write dramatic timing, emotional swells and at times even specific staging elements within the orchestral fabric. A great regisseur takes this information into account when considering the dramatic rendering of a work, and the conductor must also consider this in the shaping of a phrase and indeed the architectural arc of an entire opera. Great operas allow great latitude in staging styles, but the integrity of the work must be first when considering a production design.
Despite our best wishes, the business of Opera will drag us into uncharted regions that sometimes defy reason and at times with no consideration for the art form it seeks to preserve. We, teachers, have little control over that. What we have some influence over is that the performers we train should be solidly prepared in all aspects of the art form, such that at least the intentions of the creators of a given work are respected in their individual performances, and that their unique personalities emerge from the arduous work of studying the music and sharing personal discoveries in the score, as opposed to copying the recordings of other artists. The uniqueness of interpretation does not depend upon over-the-top histrionics. It is innate in the individual performer. It emerges when the performer has studied enough to have a well-founded interpretation of the composer’s notes.
Our masterclasses usually involve multiple teachers who work together to approach the student’s process from different and complementary angles. We embrace a combination of empirical information and traditional wisdom. In our experience, modern vocal science and traditional approaches do not oppose each other but rather complete one another. Working with several of our teachers together, the student becomes quickly responsible for his/her own process in attempting to make sense of different approaches. In our group, we know we have a common goal. Therefore we are not alarmed by differences of approaches among us. Instead, we enjoy the differences and try to broaden our own processes through interactions with one another. Our students are always free to work with teachers outside the group. We do not have a monopoly on knowledge. We have a philosophy of inclusion and invite any teacher to work with us who is also humble before the grandness of our artform. The teachers we happily work with are as much open to learning as they are eager to teach.