Master classes enrich students

Thursday, March 8, 2018 4:27 PM

Kerry Ginger knows plenty of people in “the biz,” and she’s invited two pros to Fort Lewis College for a series of open master classes in musical theater.

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“The tools, and the tricks of the trade,” Ginger said in a recent interview. She’s an assistant professor of voice at FLC with an extensive performing career of her own.

“I met Peter Leigh-Nilsen at a New York recital with Richard (Leigh-Nilsen),” Ginger said. “I talked about our Artist in Residence program at FLC and how they might participate as master teachers.”

The AIR program brings professionals to the campus as a supplemental experience for music students. The program is a collaboration between the FLC music faculty and a group of private citizens who generously fund the project. The purpose is to enrich the musical life of the students and the community. In October, the Altius String Quartet performed, followed by pianist Mark Valenti.

“I try to connect my students with ‘the biz,’” Ginger said about the musical theater component. “Our students are hungry to learn not only performance practices but how to audition, what to expect, how to survive.”

Peter Leigh-Nilsen

Peter and Richard Leigh-Nilsen will conduct a clinic, a session on audition techniques and an open coaching class. A student showcase will culminate the two-day workshop with Peter Leigh-Nilsen at the piano.

Richard Leigh-Nilsen

Richard Leigh-Nilsen is a performer and director with a long list of national and international credits in opera and musical theater. He was a professor at Arizona State University where Ginger earned her doctoral degree in vocal performance. Peter Leigh-Nilsen is a New York-based conductor, arranger and keyboardist who has participated in Broadway show tours and has also worked for international companies such as the Beijing Opera and Moscow’s Bolshoi Hall. He is director of the North Shore Musical Theatre in Chicago.

Ginger noted that nine FLC voice majors recently participated in a regional competition for college students. Baritone Jonathan Patton won his division for fourth-year college classical. Soprano Allie Boom won her division for third-year college musical theater. Here’s hoping both will perform in the showcase.

Patton’s senior recital will take place Tuesday. Boom’s senior recital will be April 2. All FLC student recitals are free.

For more information about all FLC music performances, visit or call 247-7243.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.

If you go

WHAT: Fort Lewis College musical theatre events: Three free clinics by Artists-in-Residence Peter and Richard Leigh-Nilsen: Acting Through Song, 3-5 p.m. March 16; Audition Techniques, 7-9:30 p.m. March 16; and Open coaching, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. March 17. All free and open to the public. Student Showcase Performance, 5 p.m. March 17 with Peter Leigh-Nilsen, piano.

WHERE: Roshong Recital Hall (Jones Hall 205), FLC.

TICKETS: Saturday Showcase only. $15 adults, $5 children, free FLC students with ID (at door).

More information: Email Ginger at

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Peter Leigh-Nilsen
Richard Leigh-Nilsen