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January 27, 2020

Faculty Spotlight: Constance Fee, M.M., Director of Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Vocal Performance

  • Performer’s Certificate in Opera Performance | Curtis Institute of Music
  • M.M. in Vocal Performance | Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
  • B.S. in Music Education | Westminster Choir College

Before Roberts:

A 20-year career performing opera (and living) in Europe.

Inspired to Excel:

It is exciting and deeply satisfying when students discover a gift they did not know they had, or they begin to fully develop a talent they did not realize was there, and their true artistry begins to appear.

What brought you to Roberts?

A last-minute replacement was needed on the Roberts voice faculty, and there was no time for a search. I agreed to come for one year while they looked for someone permanent, after which I planned to return to Europe. But I loved the students, and I had never expected to find so much talent at a small Christian college just outside of Rochester. I loved the opportunity to share something that meant so much to me, and I deeply appreciated the fact that I was in an environment where I could also freely share my faith. I had never imagined that there was a such a place, but I knew I had found it. At that time, I absolutely thought that I didn’t want to teach college, but after two weeks on campus, I knew I would be staying. I will celebrate my 20th year here in August 2020.

When did you start becoming interested in music performance?

My mother was a singer and introduced me and my four siblings to music before we could walk or talk. We always had classical music on in the house, and had piano lessons and sang in choirs and played instruments and took ballet (yes, my brothers, too) as soon as we were able to. I lived it and breathed it, and I always knew that my career would be in some aspect of music, but I didn’t know it would be in opera until I was required to perform in one in grad school. I had actually thought that opera was elitist and boring until I was in one, and it was a life-altering experience. It demanded every bit of focus, effort, sacrifice, intellect, and skill that I possessed and then some, and I loved every minute of it. I remember thinking, “I’m not sure exactly what I’ve gotten myself into, but I’m never leaving.”

Is there an upcoming music event you would recommend?

One of the most interesting, unusual, and exciting events is the American Spiritual Ensemble, which will be performing here at the College on March 7th. It is amazing that 20 professional singers, all trained at the top conservatories, and who have performed at major opera houses and concert halls in the United States including the Met, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, as well as in Europe and Asia, have come together to preserve and promote the American Spiritual tradition. They are all leading soloists in their own right, so to have them singing together is an experience I am really looking forward to!

What is your favorite part of your job?

It is constantly challenging and there are always problems to solve and solutions to figure out. I love that! It is unfailingly interesting and I am always learning something new, very often from my students!

What is an interesting fact about you?

I love languages. I speak French, German, and Italian fluently.

What is your favorite quote or verse and why?

Prov. 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” This is one of my favorite verses because it is something that I didn’t always do and I thought “my own understanding” was all there was. I was a bit of a prodigal; I was stubborn and willful and I made some unwise decisions along the way. I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but since then the Lord has been faithful and has always kept His part of the bargain.

What is your favorite restaurant in Rochester?

My favorite is Amore Italian Restaurant by Wegmans on East Avenue. It’s elegant but still cozy and a bit rustic, the atmosphere is quiet and comfortable, the service is excellent, the food is always fresh and delicious, and there is always something on the menu I’ve never had before.

Student Insight:

Rebecca Mugnolo'20 (Vocal Performance)

"Professor Fee has been one of the biggest blessings of my time here at Roberts. She expertly finds a way to teach each of her students in a way that they can connect with her and comprehend. I have grown so much as a singer since studying with her, but I can also, without a doubt, say that I have grown as a person, as well. Professor Fee makes a point to know who her students are, apart from what they do in the studio, and what makes them tick. I know that she cares about me outside the academic setting. Because of this care and connection, I feel safe to grow and take risks in my field of study. Another thing I value so much about her is how she integrates faith with singing and musicianship. She challenges me not only as a singer but also as a woman of God. I would not be where I am today without her and am so thankful to have had the honor of being her student these past few years."

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