FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2006
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919
Memphis & Murfreesboro Natives Part of Top-Notch 65 Chosen from National Pool
(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—While most college students recuperate from the rigors of another academic year, MTSU seniors Megan Tozer of Murfreesboro and Neal Figueroa of Memphis are pursuing their passion for musical theater in the Cape Cod hamlet of Falmouth, Mass.
Founded in 1969, the College Light Opera Company (CLOC) is the country’s largest residential opera company. During its nine-show season, CLOC provides undergraduate students with an environment and experience to refine their skills and launch careers in musical theater.
“I heard about the company through professors and colleagues at MTSU,” said Tozer, a senior vocal performance music major and CLOC vocal ensemblist.
“I knew I needed to begin applying for summer programs and internships this year, because they really help build an artistic resume,” she remarked.
Figueroa, who’s serving as one of three CLOC assistant conductor, added, “CLOC will be able to provide me with valuable experience and arm me for the future.
“I’m doing this program in preparation for graduate school and the real world,” he added, “(and) I hope to be a stronger conductor and teacher.”
Dr. John McDaniel, dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said, “This is a highly competitive endeavor open only to the best college students and we are immensely pleased that Neal and Megan are representing MTSU in this professional organization.
“Their appointment to this company, where they will work with a professional staff throughout the summer, is a credit not only to their talent but to the nurturing they have received from faculty in the music school.”
Each year, CLOC selects 32 vocalists for the ensemble, 18 instrumentalists for the orchestra, three assistant conductors and 12 stage technicians for its summer program. With such a small number of applicants accepted, CLOC has become a high watermark for young talent.
“I’m particularly happy for Megan because the true elitism in the program is for the vocalists,” said Figueroa, a graduate of Overton High School who’s a double majoring in music and theater education. “Singers from some the top music schools in the United States applied for the ensemble and only a few, in relationship to the amount of applicants, are accepted.”
As for the fact that two MTSU students were selected to participate in the prestigious summer company, “It says a great deal about the faculty members who invest their time into helping us be the best performers we can be,” Tozer observed.
Nevertheless, both Tozer and Figueroa insist they have no intention of letting their acceptance into the CLOC program inflate their egos or shadow the talents of their colleagues in the music or speech and theater programs.
“We were the only two who applied from MTSU,” Figueroa said. “However, I believe that there are students in our program that have the talent and ability to give the rest of the CLOC ensemble a run for their money. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for MTSU.”
Moreover, Tozer added, “I definitely think MTSU has a great deal of talent in both the music and theater departments. Other students have done similar programs and placed in statewide competitions just this year.”
Although the pair’s musical talents afforded them admittance into the highly competitive CLOC program, both Figueroa and Tozer believe it would not have possible without encouragement from their respective MTSU teachers.
“Dr. Christine Isley-Farmer, my voice teacher, has undoubtedly been a huge inspiration since I’ve been at MTSU,” said Tozer, a 2003 graduate of Riverdale High School. “I knew that she would help me prepare and support me, whether or not I was accepted into CLOC.
“Dr. Isley-Farmer cares for each of us personally and spends a great deal of time getting to know our voices and selecting repertoire that suits us best. I can only hope to be half the teacher that she is someday.”
Figueroa, too, has a favorite faculty member whom he credits with mentoring his aspirations.
“Dr. Raphael Bundage has a vast knowledge of music history, choral literature and score interpretation,” Figueroa said. “I have learned a great deal from sitting in his choirs and observing him work.
“He is always willing to offer assistance if you ask and is the epitome of a great musical mind. However, Dr. Bundage is quite humble in his teaching and would never really admit to inspiring anyone, though he inspires many.”
Once their summer tenure with the opera company is completed, Tozer and Figueroa will return to MTSU for the fall semester to complete their senior-year studies. But the skills and experience from the CLOC program, they say, will stay with them well beyond graduation.
For more information on the College Light Opera Company, please visit its Web site at www.collegelightopera.com.
•ATTENTION, MEDIA: Interview requests for Figueroa and Tozer, now performing in Massachusetts, may be directed to Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 615-898-2919.
Please note: Editorial outlets that choose to run the aforementioned story verbatim are asked to provide byline credit to Justin Dinger, a May 2006 MTSU mass communication graduate.