Tracelyn Gesteland’s spring studio showcase gives USD vocal students an opportunity to practice performing, which Gesteland believes is important.
Gesteland, associate professor of voice and opera, has hosted an annual showcase ever since she began teaching at USD.
“I wanted literally to ‘showcase’ the hard work that my students put in throughout the year for the public, and particularly, for their families to see,” Gesteland said in an email. “There are opportunities to hear these singers in the opera and in various choir concerts, but those venues don’t always feature everyone as soloists. At the showcase, everyone gets to be heard as a soloist.”
Every student in Gesteland’s studio performed in the showcase. The students in the showcase ranged from freshman to graduate students.
Abby Beach, a sophomore music education major, said students are chosen for a studio when they audition for a music scholarship.
“Dr. Holdhusen (chair of the music department) saw me at a competition and I came to USD for a visit and I had a lesson with her,” Beach said. “Tracelyn kind of recruited all the students that are in her showcase; she emailed us in high school and invited us for a lesson.”
Beach started singing at a young age. Her piano teacher heard her singing in church and told her to audition for choir.
“My mom always jokes that I could sing before I could talk,” she said.
At the beginning of each semester, music students sit down with their teacher and pick three to five songs to work on throughout the semester.
“She will ask us what song we want to sing at the showcase, but at the beginning of the year she kind of tells us what songs she thinks we would sound the strongest singing,” Beach said.
In the showcase on Sunday, Beach sang “Pulled” from the Addams Family. Beach said Gesteland has taught her to come out of her shell when she is performing.
“When I first came to college I just stood and sang a piece, I wouldn’t show what the piece was about or emote,” Beach said. “She really broke me out of my shell.”
Mikayla Trenhaile, a sophomore vocal performance major, said she hopes to perform for a while after graduating before teaching voice lessons at a university.
“I strongly believe in order to teach voice you have to have a lot of practice performing,” Trenhaile said.
Trenhaile said David Holdhusen, chair of the music department, “discovered” her in high school.
“Holdhusen was judging my contest in high school and he introduced himself to me and suggested I visited USD music’s camp,” she said. “I took private lessons with Gesteland at camp. They were a huge reason I decided to come here.”
Trenhaile said when she chooses a piece of music to sing, the story behind the piece is important to her.
“Taking what the composer has written and transforming it into something I want to perform for others, story for me is very important,” she said.
In the showcase, Trenhaile performed “Ridente la calma” an Italian piece by Mozart.
Trenhaile said when vocal students are assigned a piece that is not in English, they must learn translations to better understand their piece.
“We look up poetic translations and we are also required to learn the word-for-word translations,” she said. “As the learning process goes on, we are still reflecting on what the text actually means.”
Seventeen students performed in the showcase on Sunday.
The students also performed a medley of Broadway favorites selected by Gesteland, followed by a grand finale piece with light choreography. This year’s finale was “You Will Be Found” from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Gesteland’s students said they appreciate her constant guidance and how she inspires them.
“In addition to being my mentor, she also encourages me with everything we do I feel like I improve tremendously. She is always there if you have a problem she is someone I look up to and I hope one day I can be as inspiring as her,” Trenhaile said.