A new voice professor has started teaching at the university.
Dr. Frank Ragsdale, professor of voice, has taken a position for the year as a visiting instructor of voice at the University of Miami.
During his absence, students in his studio are working with Professor Autumn West.
West said she calls herself a “Chicag-Ohioan” because she was raised in Chicago but then moved to Ohio when she was older. She studied in voice and political science at Northwestern University during her undergraduate career and then continued to study voice at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she is also completing her doctorate with emphasis in vocal pedagogy, musical theater style, and pedagogy and arts administration.
West expects to receive her doctorate in December after performing one final recital.
“I did my undergrad in voice and political science, randomly, because my parents told me I could do music, so long as I had a back-up,” West said. “After my master’s, I took a couple years off performing before deciding that I wanted to be a teacher and knew I had to go back for my doctorate. I love teaching students who are at a high level and who really care about what they’re doing, like my students here.”
West has performed in many operas including “Susanna” in Le Nozze di Figaro, “Zerlina” in Don Giovanni, the “Dew Fairy” in Hansel and Gretel, and “Clarice” in Il Mondo della Luna, but realized she loved teaching at the end of her master’s.
“I love performing and I get a lot of joy out of that, but I realized that I love instilling that love in others more than I like performing myself,” West said.
“I think I really knew after my first student, who had a lot of talent and potential, got into all the schools she applied to. I just broke down and cried. I get more emotional when I see people I mentored reach success.”
Graydon McNally, music theater junior, who’s in West’s voice studio, said he’s happy to work with her.
“I absolutely love her as my teacher,” he said. “I love how she finds something that I might not feel confident with, and works with me until I feel like I could successfully practice it in the practice rooms.”
Morgan Haney, music theater junior, said she also enjoys West’s classes.
“She has done wonders for my voice in such a short amount of time. She is an incredibly creative teacher and really tailors her lesson to each student’s style of learning,”she said.
In addition to teaching and performing, West also co-founded the Cincinnati Chamber Opera in 2013.
“My main position at the Cincinnati Chamber Opera now is to choose repertoire and to produce the shows, I get to give opportunities to extremely talented people and directors who maybe haven’t gotten a chance to perform like that before,” West said.
West began at OCU this semester and said she really enjoys being a faculty member.
“The position opened in May and I submitted all my paperwork that day, and then I came down for an interview,” she said. “It’s been sort of a beautiful whirlwind.”
“I love it here. The faculty has been so nice. The students are crazy talented, and I think they get wonderful performing opportunities.”