Michelle Murray Fiertek, Voice
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Michelle Murray Fiertek

Voice

Michelle Murray Fiertek, Voice

An active singer across many musical genres, Connecticut soprano Michelle Murray Fiertek most recently sang the roles of Mother in Hartford Opera Theater’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti), Gertrud in Opera Connecticut’s production of Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck), and Ann Putnam in Hartford Opera Theater’s production of The Crucible (Ward). Her recent calendar of song recitals included performances across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and in Madrid, Spain. In 2015, Fiertek was proud to have been nominated in the “Best Featured Actress in a Musical Production” category by Broadway World Connecticut for her performance as Miss Pinkerton/June Jinkins in Hartford Opera Theater’s double bill of The Old Maid and the Thief (Menotti) and An Embarrassing Position (Shore).

In her early years, Fiertek opened The Voyage of the Little Mermaid for Disney’s Hollywood Studios as one of the original Ariels. She went on to work as the lead singer aboard the S. S. Discovery I and became the first American singer to be invited to perform both Japanese and American music in Minakami, Japan. She has released two albums on the Summit Records label: Blue: The Complete Cabaret Songs of William Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein, described as “exemplary” by BBC Music Magazine and named “CD of the week” by the Arizona Republic and KBAQ-FM, and The Juliet Letters. Fiertek made her Carnegie Hall debut in December 2005 with a solo performance described as “First rate – engaging and authentic” in New York Concert Review.

A champion of Spanish art song, Fiertek has studied under such famed musicians as pianist Miguel Zanetti and mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza in Granada, Spain, as part of the celebrated Interpretation of Spanish Song program, as well as returned to the program in subsequent years as a guest artist. She has been a faculty and guest recital artist at venues across the country, and the featured soloist in many large-scale choral works, including Fauré’s "Requiem," Mozart’s "Coronation Mass" and "Mass in C Minor," Vivaldi’s "Gloria," Bach's "B Minor Mass" and Handel’s "Dettingen Te Deum" and "Messiah."

As an educator and administrator, Fiertek has held positions across the country as an instructor, lecturer, music academy coordinator, children’s music director, and as the artistic director and producer of a fifty-member touring teen theatre company. She holds two B.M. degrees from Arizona State University, an M.M. from California State University, Long Beach, and a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance from the University of Hartford's The Hartt School. She currently serves on the voice faculty of The Hartt School, The Hartt School Community Division, and Manchester Community College.

www.michellemurrayfiertek.com

Teaching Philosophy

I teach because I am so excited by the process of starting that fire and keeping it lit that I don’t want to do anything else. I am passionately curious about history, pedagogy, communication, repertoire exploration, and artistic creation. Each day I spend as a music professor combines them all. Starting any fire is so much more than simply presenting information—it is being passionate about a process.

Build a tinder nest. Personal investment in a relationship with each student is vital. The relationship I strive to build and nurture with each student is one where each student is appreciated, every voice matters, and diversity is celebrated. I work to learn about each student as an individual and to foster a tone in the classroom each day that is open, supportive, and motivational.

Make a notch in your fireboard. I am voracious in my own learning. Whether the topic is history, pedagogy, or the craft of creating music, I never stop being a student. I am open with my students about how continuous growth is my goal as an artist, and that it informs my teaching every day. Because of my own continuous professional development, my approach to teaching continues to grow and metamorphose throughout the year. 

Place the tinder nest beneath the fireboard. Even the most interesting topic can make for a frustrating learning experience if information is not presented in an organized manner. I strive to present relevant information in a clear, concise, and exciting manner. In the classroom this means a connection to the personal life of each student and the greater present-day world. I want them to understand the facts of the subject but also to understand how it applies directly to their life and the choices they make as a musical artist. In applied lessons this means using a blend of pedagogical/anatomical terms along with the use of imagery to solidify physical and vocal concepts. I know that I have had a successful class or lesson when students tell me they can’t believe how fast the time went by, and they are excited for the next session.

Place the spindle in the notch and begin spinning. Friction is the intersection of clear communication, trust, and infectious enthusiasm. In applied lessons I use an integrated method that includes vocal technique (body alignment, breathing, phonation, resonation, articulation, audition, register transitions, range extension), repertoire development (the right songs for the student’s voice, personality, and looks), and performing skills (stage presence, fear management, audition skills, actor/singer coordination). I encourage students to discover and cultivate their own creative resources and to modify technical and behavioral traits that interfere with artistic expression. In the history classroom I weave together composer and poet biographies with annotated scores and listening examples and open the floor to discussion about not only the composer or piece being examined, but how they relate to larger social and artistic movements.

Fan the flames. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to inspire each student to sustain their inner fire. I strive to model being a lifetime learner. One of my greatest pleasures as a teacher is when a student seeks me out to tell me about a new discovery they have made or a new passion they have decided to pursue. They do not wonder if I will be interested because they know me as an artist and a teacher; they know I will always be excited to learn and to share. I am most driven as a singer and teacher by research and conversation, and I want to show learning as both infinite and invigorating. 

My goal for all students entering my classroom or studio is not only that they become successful singers—it is that students are able to place their vocal study within a holistic context of history, music, artistic expression, and most of all to know where they fit into this grand tradition. I dedicate myself each day to inspiring students personally, academically, and artistically; and I believe that we educate the whole person, not just the musician.