|Flourish Online Magazine||Spring 2010|
Alumni Spotlight: Rebecca Teem
A talent of Wagnerian proportions
By Teresa Bagwell
Photo by Devon Cass
Like many dedicated artists, Rebecca Teem (music, 1989) is willing to follow her dreams to the ends of the earth. For now, they’ve taken her across the ocean to an opera house in Lübeck, Germany, where she is performing as Brünnhilde in consecutive seasons of Richard Wagner’s “Die Walküre,” “Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung.”
Teem burst onto the international stage after singing professionally for several years in the United States. In a review of one of her performances, Joe Banno of The Washington Post described her memorable soprano voice: “The roundness of her sound came with a lustrous glow and cannon like force.” Even with her dynamic talent and hard work, Teem maintains a sincere respect and appreciation for the training ground that helped prepare her for this career.
Although the music department was relatively young when Teem attended KSU, she says it served her well. “Superb” master classes and recitals characterized the school, along with challenging student milestones required to earn participation rights. When comparing her experience against colleagues and students from other schools, Teem came to appreciate the extra demands of the KSU program and the solid preparation for a professional career that it afforded her.
Teem believes that music teachers with unique styles and creative personalities were the driving force within the program. Professor of Music Joseph Meeks, now dean of the KSU College of the Arts, made a tremendous difference in Teem’s life and career. She says, “His continuing support kept me going when the class work demands seemed overwhelming.”
Meeks was also an inspiration and testament to the worthiness of her aspiration to become a professional musician. Teem recalls, “In my mind, I can still attend a recital with Joseph Meeks at the piano and recall the level of concentration and love that poured through the piano. I have heard many wonderful artists, and I believe no one has moved me with the simplicity of loving a musical performing experience like he did.”
Donna Angel, Teem’s former voice teacher, was another mentor and source of admiration. “She always insisted there be performance opportunities,” Teem says. “For my first opera at KSU, we had no stage or theater. But it was so important in her estimation that we spent an entire weekend building a stage on which to perform. Her sacrifice and determination were such an encouragement.”
Beyond Germany, Teem says, “I will keep on singing and auditioning, wherever that takes me. The process of building a career in the performance arts is neverending, and to compete in the real world of classical music requires being devoted and gifted, in the right combination. But the accolades are wonderful, and I love what I do.”