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Lisa Vroman to judge, teach and sing this weekend as part of concert series


LOWVILLE — World renowned soprano Lisa Vroman will be back on her home turf this weekend to teach, judge and sing.

Ms. Vroman, a 1975 graduate of South Jefferson Central School, Adams, and a 1979 graduate of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, has center stage in Friday’s master class and Broadway Idol competition hosted by the Black River Valley Concert Series. She will then perform concerts on Saturday and Sunday with selections from Broadway and the American Songbook.

Music teachers from 13 Jefferson and Lewis counties school districts nominated their top students to participate in the Broadway Idol competition. A total of 43 students were selected. On Friday, Ms. Vroman will conduct a master class at the Lewis County Historical Society. Students will then audition for a panel of judges consisting of Ms. Vroman, Toni Zygadlo, a former music educator at Indian River Central School, and Cathy M. Pircsuk, general manager of WNYF and WWNY-TV7.

The competition begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Lowville Academy and Central School with the 43 students performing a choral piece with Ms. Vroman. Then the top 20 students, chosen from the afternoon auditions, will compete to be the Broadway Idol in front of the same panel of judges. Three runner-ups will be chosen.

The Broadway Idol student will perform at Ms. Vroman’s concerts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lewis County Historical Society’s “Blue Room” at its headquarters, 7552 S. State St. The three runners-up will sing one song at either the Saturday or Sunday concert.

Ms. Vroman, speaking last week from her home in Pasadena, Calif., was almost hesitant to call Friday’s event a competition. It’s also about the experience, she said.

“I want to incorporate having the kids sing for each other and to perform and have that experience,” she said.

Ms. Vroman, who received her master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, is a frequent guest soloist with theaters, opera companies and orchestras across the U.S. and around the world. The San Francisco Chronicle has called the soprano “a musical and theatrical marvel, capable of moving between the worlds of opera and Broadway with unnerving ease.”

Ms. Vroman said she would eventually like to teach, like her mother, Gail W. Vroman Gage, who died in October. Along with more than 30 years teaching at South Jefferson and Norwood-Norfolk Central schools, Mrs. Vroman Gage was an active adjudicator, clinician, conductor and chairwoman of various local, state and regional choral festivals.

But for now, Ms. Vroman has a full slate of performances lined up. Two days after she spoke last week, she sang at the Sing for America Foundation annual benefit in San Francisco. On April 26 and 27, she will perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She added that she likely will be going on a concert tour of China this year and return to France for a Cole Porter revue, which she performed last year in Paris.

“Already, I’m booked until this time next year and after, so it’s good,” she said.

Joanne Vance, a recently retired teacher of gifted and talented students and board member of the Black River Valley Concert Series, helped to arrange Ms. Vroman’s Lowville program. Mrs. Vance, who was a neighbor of Ms. Vroman’s while growing up in Adams, said the competition is a little out of the ordinary for local students.

“This is geared for professional- and Broadway-style singing, which is full of voice and really belting it out, rather than choral. It’s a little bit of a different opportunity,” she said.

She added that the competition has attracted students who are interested in singing as a career and those who just enjoy singing.

“We wanted to offer a pleasurable learning situation for everybody, but without giving up that push for excellence,” Mrs. Vance said.

But all students, she said, will benefit from one thing.

“They are all going to gain so much by being in the same room with Lisa,” she said.

WHAT: Lisa Vroman performs two weekend concerts and is a judge and workshop leader for Friday’s Broadway Idol competition hosted by the Black River Valley Concert Series.
WHEN: The competition, open to the public, is at 7 p.m. Friday at Lowville Academy and Central School, 7668 N. State St. Ms. Vroman’s concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Blue Room of the society’s headquarters, 7552 S. State St.
COST: Tickets are $5 at the door for Friday’s competition. Concert tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at the historical society, Cafe Z, 7594 S. State St., and Dr. Guitar, 154 Court St., Watertown.
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