Q&A with Patty Thom, Vocal/Choral Intensive Program Codirector

Patty Thom, codirector of Boston Conservatory's Vocal/Choral Intensive (VCI), tells us what students will gain from the program and shares some of her fondest VCI memories.

What is the most important idea or skill that you want participants to take away from this program?

Vocal/Choral Intensive is a skills-based program, so we hope that our singers will leave with stronger theoretical and sight-reading skills, an increased understanding of their voice from a technical perspective, and greater ease in performance. In the program, all of these skills are put to use in solo recitals, the choral concert, and the StageWorks (the acting component of the program) productions.

Why do you teach voice?

I teach voice because, in every sense of the phrase, I want to help young singers "find their voice"—not only the voice that lives within them and is just awaiting breath and coordination to bring it to life, but also their voice in the world which allows them to speak up, ask for what they want, and state what they believe in with confidence and clarity.

What can students expect from VCI?

Students can expect two weeks of hard work, a lot of focused play, and some just plain fun. They can also expect to make a host of discoveries about themselves and their innate abilities that they may have never even considered as possibilities.

Who is your favorite singer working today?

I would never choose one singer for his or her singing. I love a wide range of performers in a wide range of genres. However, I do have tremendous admiration for Joyce DiDonato, who speaks truth to power and communicates with young singers in a way that makes them know that they matter and that their concerns are real, shared, and understood. The way that she uses social media is a real service to the business and to singers everywhere.

What is your favorite VCI memory?

Seeing a young singer get excited about newly learned skills or seeing light bulbs go off as elements of music begin to fit together—these are always great moments for me. But I have two favorite memories from every VCI program: the first is the movement master class taught by Kimber Billow in week one. These classes remind young singers to find music in their bodies, to create and keep the joy of music-making, and that movement and singing are inherently intertwined. The other is the Boston Harbor Cruise we take as a group. The weather is always beautiful, the skyline is stunning, everyone relaxes and takes thousands of photographs. After both of these events, everyone—staff, faculty and students—is changed.

Who should attend VCI?

High school-aged singers who are serious about singing classical music or musical theater should attend this program. If you want to find out more about what it's like to live and work in a conservatory environment, this program is a window into that world. It is fun, hard work, and it rewards you with a lifetime of knowledge and friendships.

Learn more about VCI