Three Valley students will travel to Germany this summer as part of a program intended to train musicians for careers in musical performance.
All three students are members of the “Valley Singers,” the exclusive group of singers chosen to represent the university at special events such as Green and White Day and the First Lady’s Luncheon.
The program, called the International Performing Arts Institute (IPAI), will take place in Kiefersfelden, Bavaria, a village south of Munich near the German border with Austria. Michael Lawson and Maiya Beavers, two of the Singers, will focus on the institute’s musical theater track. Jamahl Cotton, the third Singer, will take the opera track.
Taking place from July 5 through July 26, students at IPAI take master classes in acting, dancing, vocal technique, and other aspects of the profession. They will learn from internationally celebrated instructors, such as opera singers Kirstin Chavez and Barbara Daniels.
Graduates have gone on to have successful careers on Broadway, in opera, and in musical theater productions across Europe.
In order to hold their place in the institute, Beavers, Cotton, and Lawson had to send a deposit to Dr. Bruce Earnest, the director of musical theater at the University of Mobile as well as the director of IPAI. The MVSU Alumni Association gave each student the $500 necessary for his or her deposit, giving $1500 in total.
The students will be able to use their financial aid scholarships to cover the cost of the institute, $5,325. The cost covers room, board, and the regional travel opportunities tied into the track they auditioned for.
Although they are still responsible for raising the funds for their travel to Germany, Dr. Kathie Golden, associate vice president of academic affairs, recommended that they apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, a federally funded program that awards scholarships for undergraduate study abroad.
To enter the institute, applicants either submit a video audition or they attend one of the live auditions, which occur at various times in cities throughout the United States.
“This is my first time doing this type of thing,” Cotton said. “I’m hoping it will build my confidence and help me get used to performing.”
Beavers hopes the program will help her improve as a singer and give her a leg up on starting a career in New York City after graduation. Lawson, who eventually wants to study theater in graduate school, is looking forward to learning more about musical theater. If they do well enough at the program – and don’t mind learning German – there is a chance that they could be invited back. IPAI offers some students the opportunity to return for the IPAI European Audition Program, a program designed as an audition process for placement in a European production.