Welcome to the first installment of our Weekly Faculty Interview Series. With this series, we hope to get to know more about the instructors and program directors who make all of our programs possible!
This week, our focus is on the Rutgers High School Musical Theater Academy! We will start with Alexandra Porter, voice instructor and Music Director of the Rutgers High School Musical Theater Academy! Ms. Porter has performed with the likes of New Music on the Point, the American Modern Ensemble, and the JACK Quartet, and has participated in the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy and assissted with the third annual Resonant Bodies Festival. Ms. Porter also founded the Princeton-based Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project; a recital series committed to the elevation of modern art song composition. When not teaching at the Extension Division, Ms. Porter also teaches at the Hun School of Princeton and the Princeton Day School.
TJ: What initially inspired you to go into the arts?
AP: I was always interested in music – it was a part of my life very early on. I took piano and sang in choirs throughout elementary and middle school, then took voice lessons and a performance class as a high school student. When it was time to go to college, there wasn’t a question of what I should major in.
TJ: Was there a teacher who made an impact upon your development as an artist? How did they impact your own work as a teacher?
AP: There have been many teachers who have inspired me over the years as well as many colleagues who have and still do inspire me to be a better musician and teacher. One person in particular is a choral director from Penn State, Dr. Kiver. He is an amazing musician, very dedicated to bettering himself and inspiring his students to ask themselves more questions and delve deeper into the material. He conducted a chamber ensemble I sang with and created an independent study for me to take conducting lessons with him.
TJ: What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?
AP: I am most rewarded when I see students discover something new about their singing or come to a realization about the music they’re working on. It’s great to see everything coming together.
TJ: You’re stranded on an island and you are only allowed to listen to three classical albums for the rest of your time there. Which three classical albums do you choose and why?
AP: If I could choose three classical albums to listen to, they would be: Sir Ian Bostridge singing Schubert, Dawn Upshaw singing the Mirabai Songs, and a recording of the Brahms Requiem.
TJ: If you could perform with any actor or singer from the past or present, who would it be and why?
AP: I am very impressed by the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is very creative, unique, and seems to have endless ideas. I think we could create something really amazing combining the many elements he employs along with classical music and extended vocal techniques.
TJ: Do you have any advice for young artists looking to go into musical theater?
AP: Practice, practice, practice. Listen to your teachers. Record everything. Go to shows. Listen to great artists. Be supportive of your colleagues. Figure out your weaknesses and work to strengthen them!
Thanks so much, Ms. Porter! If you wish to see the work Ms. Porter does with the Extension Division, then check out the Rutgers High School Musical Theater Academy Showcase this Friday, January 22, and Saturday, January 23 at 8 PM in the Philip J. Levin Theater at the Mason Gross School of the Arts! Tickets can be found at mgedrhsmta.wordpress.com!
The Rutgers High School Musical Theater Academy aims to provide talented high school students from the tri-state area with the skills needed to excel in the professional world of musical theater. Students undergo rigorous training in dance (jazz and ballet), voice, acting, and stage performance. Additionally, students will receive audition and industry coaching as well as technical feedback from New York theater professionals.