Historical Performance, Vocal Studies Faculty
Pamela Dellal teaches in the Vocal Studies and Historical Performance departments at Longy. She is a mezzo-soprano with an interest in language, translation, and the context behind the music she sings. Her performance repertoire covers twelve centuries, and she has performed with the medieval ensemble Sequentia in Europe. At Longy, she teaches students to communicate with their audiences and find their niche in the world of music. (And when she’s not binge-watching Star Trek series, you may find her inventing new ways to entertain her cat!)
“As performers, our emotions advocate for the piece, and we have the privilege of communicating those emotions through our unique, individual sound.
I’m first and foremost a performer, but language and context also really matter to me for historical pieces. I translate from German, Italian, and some French and Latin for concert programs so singers can communicate better with their audience. This gives listeners the information they need to experience the performance as fully as possible. Our repertoire is not a museum piece—the music is only valid when it lives in the moment and moves a listener.
The material I teach tracks my own performing experience and the repertoire I’ve learned, and—in some cases—researched and brought out of obscurity. One of the amazing things about teaching historical performance—as well as one of the challenges of it—is that there’s a different technique for each performance system or tradition. That revelation transformed my technique, as I found all sorts of different colors I could use in each repertoire. I’m interested in helping my students discover what their bodies and voices can do, which gives them a more sophisticated suite of skills than most vocalists study. We don’t throw away technique; we work to free rather than constrict ourselves.
In the historical performance department, we’re very proud to offer such a broad spectrum of repertoires from so many different periods. But for every musical score that’s been preserved, there are so many we’ll never know about. That’s particularly poignant at Longy, because as an institution we’re interested in hearing voices that have been silenced throughout history. The art of teaching this is to acknowledge the silence around what we’re working with in order to value the legacy of surviving pieces. As a department, we’re trying to find ways to decolonize historical performance practice and give voice to historically marginalized communities.
I’m so happy to teach at a school where we encourage students to be passionate, learn with curiosity, and figure out what they’re capable of doing. At Longy, we encourage our students to ask questions and think deeply about their role in the arts. When they plan recitals, they program an experience that tells a story instead of checking off pieces from the standard repertory. We help students create something that really reflects who they are.”
More information about Pamela Dellal can be found at pameladellal.com.