Student Chosen for Nationwide Arts School

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Siloam Springs, Ark. (April 30, 2004) - She comes into the basement of the 59-year-old Cathedral of the Ozarks, selects a small, sound-proof practice room, seals herself in as she closes the door, sits at the piano, reaches for her bag that bulges with arias, opera repertoire, and modern-day solo pieces, pulls them out and begins to practice. All of the intense practice time junior Rebecca Webler has invested over her three years at John Brown University has been worthwhile. Webler has been accepted as one of only 25 young adults in the U.S. and Canada to attend the Black Hills State University Vocal Arts & Opera Theatre School, June 14-26. She will spend two weeks in vocal interpretation, opera repertoire, recital presence, body movement and private vocal lessons. Some of the best instructors of vocal arts and opera theater in the world will conduct classes and coaching for students. Among the faculty is Johanna Meirer, former leading soprano with the Metropolitan Opera and an international opera star. Bruce Donnell, stage director at the Met and Emmy-award winning producer, will also lend his expertise to the young stars. For young, aspiring stars to be accepted into the two-week program, they had to submit a CD or cassette of three works in two different foreign languages. Webler will earn two hours of college credit for her trip. “My hard work has paid off,” Webler said. “The world tends to think that people who are in opera are stuffy, boring and pompous.” However, Webler is anything but boring and pompus. She competes in Latin-style dance competitions in northwest Arkansas, appears in community productions at the Siloam Springs Sager Creek Arts Center and JBU’s Opera and Musical Theatre Workshops, and performs in churches in northwest Arkansas. This past summer, Webler performed an original work by upcoming artist and composer, J.B. Frizzel in Atlanta, Ga. One of Webler’s friends notes that she has a wonderfully colorful personality and an extremely serious side as well, to “help balance her out.” Webler has been under the training of Paul Smith, associate professor of music at JBU. “Rebecca has an amazing talent,” Smith said. “She has what it takes to excel in vocal performance.” Webler will finish her undergraduate degree in music education next year. She plans to attend graduate school to study musical theater & opera performance. John Brown University is a top-tier private university, ranked 11th by U.S. News & World Report in the Southern Region. JBU enrolls more than 1,800 students from 42 states and 42 countries. JBU is a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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