College Choir, Voice Students to Feature in ‘La Bohème’

Posted on: 11/27/2018


 
 Emily Ramos and Kieran Burmester will sing as part of the chorus in Landmark Opera's production of La Bohème.

College Choir, Voice Students to Feature in ‘La Bohème’

If you ask students from Professor Josh Wentz’s College Choir and Voice classes what their experiences have been so far, they’ll tell you that they’re having a lot of fun learning in the classroom and getting real experience throughout the year by participating in live musical performances.

Such is the case for Kieran Burmester and Emely Ramos, two of the seven L.A. Mission College students set to feature in Landmark Opera’s production of La Bohème on December 7-8 at the Arts, Media and Performance Theater.

“I never sang before his class,” Burmester said. “He helps you prepare, but he also puts you up there (to perform). It’s changed my perspective on music, because I’ve never done it so quickly where you get on stage.”

For Ramos, who has had other music instructors, Dr. Wentz is one of a kind.

“It’s just a completely different level … He’s a different character,” Ramos said. “He makes it fun and makes you want to be there.”

Giacomo Puccini’s greatest masterpiece, La Bohème, is the great tragedy about the artsy Bohemians living in 19th Century Paris. Dr. Wentz says the opera is performed by hundreds of companies around the world every year. It is divided into four acts and runs approximately two hours.

Bringing the opera to L.A. Mission College is part of Dr. Wentz’s vision of creating a musical environment on campus where students can learn, watch professionals perform live, and participate in concerts to gain valuable experience. 

Dr. Wentz is now in his third year teaching at Mission, and he hopes the classes will help lay the foundation for a music certificate or degree.

“Mission has music, but many people don’t know we have these programs here,” Dr. Wentz said.

That is why he takes every opportunity and event on campus to feature the college choir and voice students. Recently, students sang during the Veterans Day event, Oktoberfest, and a community concert in Santa Clarita celebrating Mozart’s Requiem.

In La Bohème, some of his students will be performing with live music for the first time. They will be participating as chorus members in the opera, which will include piano, violin and cello.

“We want to demonstrate that Mission is doing advanced art forms,” Dr. Wentz said.

Dr. Wentz has more than 10 years of experience performing as an opera singer, and recently he became production manager for Landmark Opera where he has been busy restructuring the company.

“I’m responsible for scheduling, hiring and buying. This gives me an opportunity to bridge the work I do teaching at the college with my professional work in the field.”

For Burmester, a Music major, the performances at Mission are a great opportunity to get experience performing in front of people. He has even been invited to train for free with The Kadima String Quartet, which performs free concerts each semester at Mission.

He has played the violin for more than 4 years, and now, thanks to the many performances he’s been involved in, he has acting and singing experience too.

For Ramos, who has been singing since she was 4 years old, music is something she wants to incorporate into her career as a teacher. She is an Education major, but her passion and respect for music stems from her upbringing. She learned English through singing.

With La Bohème, she’ll have the challenge of singing in a new language.

“It’s definitely a challenge because I don’t speak a lick of Italian and it’s fast (tempo).”

Ramos is also secretary of the Music Club on campus. She says the club helps expose people to a variety of music and singing.

Dr. Wentz says that the club, and regular music events are helping to get the word out about careers in music. He hopes that a successful opera might lead to regular performances on campus, and perhaps a niche of Opera Studies at Mission.

La Bohème Showtimes

Friday, Dec. 7 @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8 @ 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Location:

Arts, Media and Performance Theater

Tickets:

$15 for Students
$20 General Admission

To purchase tickets, visit https://landmarkopera.org/

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