Singer seeks to teach

Performance: Bel Air native Stacey Mastrian will take the stage next month.

July 25, 2004|By Artika Rangan | Artika Rangan,SUN STAFF

Stacey Mastrian wasn't nervous when she sang Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu in front of a packed audience in seventh grade.

"It's a lot easier for me to sing than talk," said the 26-year-old soprano. "And when everyone was applauding, at that moment, I knew singing was what I wanted to do."

Mastrian, a Bel Air native who will perform Aug. 13 at the St. Mary Magdalen Mission in Bel Air, began private voice lessons when she was a sophomore at Bel Air High School. She has since earned her master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Maryland and won numerous awards from organizations such as the Maryland Opera Society and the National Italian American Foundation.

In 2002, she received a Fulbright grant and a fellowship from the Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musicians and spent a year studying 20th- century Italian art song in Italy.

"I saw art. I saw Michelangelo's David. I saw tons of operas." she said, adding that she also sang for the pope ---- three times.

On Wednesdays, large audiences would gather around the Vatican, and the pope would ride around outside, blessing passers-by. There, Mastrian and a friend sang psalms while the pope listened.

"It was a great honor," she said of the experience.

Mastrian, fluent in Italian, will begin her second year as a doctoral fellow at the University of Maryland in the fall, studying voice performance.

Her professional goals include teaching, performing and changing the perception of classical music.

Mastrian recently won a competition sponsored by the Vocal Arts Society, a District of Columbia organization that promotes classical music. "The purpose of it is to make a program interesting to audiences that aren't necessarily into it," she said.

Mastrian has found that getting people to see a performance is the hardest aspect of changing their perceptions. "Once they're there, even if they weren't fans before, they seem to enjoy hearing me sing," she said.

"There are better or worse concerts or opera performances, just like there are more and less exciting football games," she said.

Critics have called Mastrian's voice "lovely" and "all but flawless."

In her performance next month, Mastrian will provide translations and information on each piece.

"I don't want people to think I'm just singing in a language they can't understand," she said. "You can't judge all opera by one singer or one experience."

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