Get to Know Leslie Soich
Five Questions for Music Entertainment & Industry Studies Vocal Instructor and CAM LLCC Faculty MentorMegan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Aug 23, 2021
Leslie Soich is an instructor in Music Entertainment & Industry Studies (MEIS) at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) where she has been the Commercial Voice Area Program Director since 2012. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Soich has a Bachelor of Music degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Colorado Boulder. She has twice been a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and was the third prize winner in the Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria (2002). Most recently, she was a quarterfinalist in the American Traditions Competition as part of the Savannah Music Festival, Savannah, Georgia. In addition to coaching students both in the College of Arts & Media (CAM) at CU Denver and privately, she is active throughout the front range of Colorado on both the opera and concert stages.
1. In addition to teaching in CAM’s Music Entertainment & Industry Studies program, you also perform opera. How does one innovate in a musical genre that is traditional, and in many ways, moored to the past?
Great question. Some of that innovation comes from contemporary composers and librettists (both in music theater and opera) trying to marry traditions of the past to the wave of the future. As with many music genres, you don't have to dig very deep to find the link between them. It can be found in the musical form of the piece, or it can be found in character development and arc of the story.
2. What role do performance artists play in our rapidly evolving society?
I just finished a brief run of an opera commissioned with the idea to connect with young and old audiences both about family, relationship, and identity. The piece was intended to use the universal language that is music to reach people in an emotional and thoughtful way. It is also a bilingual opera reaching some audiences that would not necessarily feel they have a place in such a traditional art form. That feels like a continuation of how musicians, composers, visual artists all can have an impact on an audience when it comes to social commentary.
3. What value does training in a traditional music genre give an artist? For instance, what does classical music training teach the musicians of today?
For singers, I feel the foundation of training and vocal technique is universal for whatever genre one chooses to perform. Good technique and knowing your own instrument well will result in healthy, long-lived careers and command of your voice to sing in any style.
4. How do you personally get into a creative state of mind? Are there certain rituals or practices you employ to get to a mental place where you can create?
Carving out time to study and prepare music is key for me. Family life can be a big distraction from that focus. As a singer who does not write, having enough preparation for a piece to feel like it is coming from an organic place is very important for me as a performer.
5. You’ve been an instructor in CAM for over 15 years. What has teaching students taught you? What are some of the rewarding aspects of working with the students in CAM?
The deepest foundation in vocal technique and knowledge of one's voice becomes a lifetime of healthy singing and endless creative opportunities. I've always believed that teaching voice is one of the greatest ways to continue to learn about your own voice. That has certainly been true for me. I also believe I've grown as an artist just by the exposure to new and interesting artists that my students bring to the table. It is exciting to share knowledge in both directions when it comes to teacher/student relationships. I love the look on a student's face after they accomplish something vocally that forever felt impossible. That look is always a combination of surprise and joy.