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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 26, 2004

March 12 UI Symposium Studies Perception Of The Human Voice

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the University of Iowa School of Music will present "Sounding the Voice," a symposium on the perception and assessment of the human singing voice, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 12 in Clapp Recital Hall.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a keynote lecture by Jody Kreiman from the University of California at Los Angeles, a panel discussion featuring faculty from the UI, Drake University and Iowa State University, and musical performances by UI students.

Panelists will be Katherine Eberle, who organized the symposium as part of a research project supported by the Obermann Center, and Stephen Swanson from the UI School of Music voice faculty; Christine Bergan, a graduate fellow in speech pathology and audiology at the UI; Leanne Freeman-Miller from Drake University; and Don Simonson from ISU.

Music will be performed during the presentation by soprano Heather Youngquist, mezzo-soprano Margaret Clair, tenor Dennis Willhoit, baritone Charles Stanley and pianist Chia-Yi Lee, all students in the UI School of Music.

Eberle received a grant from the Obermann Center to develop a way for voice teachers to evaluate student singers in a subjective way, and to incorporate those subjective judgments into their teaching. She is participating in the Obermann Center's Interdisciplinary Research Semester, "Sounding the Voice," which brings together competitively selected UI faculty members to discuss their research.

The project includes the presentation of the symposium, as well as the development of an article to be presented at the national convention of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) in March, and a faculty recital by Eberle in Clapp Recital Hall on April 19.

"College and university singing teachers typically use some sort of template to evaluate and grade singers in much the same way that speech pathologists evaluate injured or deviant voices," Eberle explained. "However, where speech pathologists use an evaluation form standardized across their discipline, singing teachers often use arbitrary, individually developed methods. Voice teachers would do well to follow the example of speech pathology and develop a standardized scientific model to assess normal singing tone.

"Through my research project, I hope to offer new, scientifically based assessments for use in evaluation and teaching. The keynote speaker at the symposium, Jody Kreiman, is a specialist in this area. She will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of subjective assessments, and the panel will listen to singers perform and critique them. We will use several different evaluation processes and see if there is any consensus."

Kreiman holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago. On the faculty at UCLA, her research focuses on voice perception. Her studies in this area represent the first effort to develop models of voice perception and speaker recognition, and she has been honored by an Editor's Award for the article of highest merit in the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research. She is the editorial consultant of Brain and Language, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Language and Speech.

Recent work performed in collaboration with Bruce R. Gerratt indicates that traditional methods of perceptual voice evaluation will never be sufficiently valid or reliable for clinical application, because listeners differ substantially in how they judge disordered voices. Kreiman and Gerratt are developing a real-time synthesizer for pathological voices, and are conducting experiments examining the importance of perceptual context in determining the relationship between an acoustic signal and perceived voice quality. Support for this research is provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Eberle has performed internationally in opera, concert and solo recitals. Concert credits include solo performances with symphonies in Detroit, Lansing and Saginaw, Mich.; and Atlanta, Macon, Rome, and Valdosta, Ga. She has given more than 50 solo recitals as a guest artist in 18 states and in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Korea, Peru, St. John and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Her extensive performing schedule has not deterred her active work as a clinician and master class teacher. Since 1990, she has given college-level master classes in the United States, Argentina, Korea, Peru and Brazil. She has appeared as guest lecturer at the Summer Vocology Institute at the National Center for Voice and Speech and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She holds a bachelor's degree from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. More information on Katherine Eberle can be obtained at her website

Before he joined the UI music faculty, Swanson had an active operatic career in Europe, with 91 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in many European festivals. He has also had an extensive career as a concert singer, appearing as featured soloist with many U.S. orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti, Raphael Fruehbeck de Burgos and Margaret Hillis. Since coming to Iowa City, he has presented solo recitals, appeared in and directed UI Opera Theater productions, and performed with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City.

Swanson holds undergraduate degrees from North Park College in Chicago and a master's degree in music from Northwestern University. He made his professional debut in 1970, singing in Arnold Schoenberg's opera "Moses and Aron" with the Chicago Symphony in Chicago and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Simonson holds bachelors and masters degrees from Drake University and a doctorate in vocal performance from Northwestern University. He also did advanced study in voice and opera at the Akademie fuer Musik in Vienna, Austria. He has sung leading roles and appeared as a soloist with opera companies, symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Europe, America, and the Far East including performances with ensembles such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Austrian National Radio Symphony, and has been featured on Austrian, German, and Italian national radio and television broadcasts. He has recorded for the Musical Heritage, Harmonia Mundi, Musique D'or and CBS/Sony Classical labels.

As a recitalist, Simonson performs regularly in the United States and abroad, recently completing a recital tour of the Republic of China where he also performed the title role in Mozart's "La clemenza di Tito." In addition to his active performance schedule, Simonson currently serves as chair of the voice division at Iowa State University where he teaches voice, diction, vocal literature and pedagogy, and directs musical theatre. An active member of NATS for 25 years, Simonson has served two terms as Iowa District Governor, two terms as Governor of the Central Region, and currently is chair of "Call for Papers" committee.

Freeman-Miller has appeared frequently as a soloist with performing groups in the Midwest, including a collaboration of the Des Moines Choral Society and Des Moines Ballet's premier of Stephen Laurent's "Catulli Carmina" and the Choral Society's performance of Haydn's "The Creation." She has appeared as soprano soloist for the Des Moines Community Orchestra's and Choral Society's performances of Handel's "Messiah" and has been the featured soprano soloist for many oratorios and other major choral works.

She has also appeared in leading roles on the OPERA espresso series at St. Paul's Cathedral in Des Moines and has extensive musical theatre experience in both performing and musical direction. She most recently served as musical director for the Des Moines Playhouse productions of "Crazy For You" and "The King & I." Freeman-Miller has twice been a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, national honorary music society. Her students are frequent winners of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Music Teachers National Association competitions. She served as State President of the National Association of Teachers of Singing for two terms. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota and a master's in vocal performance from Drake.

Bergan is a doctoral candidate in voice science in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the UI, working with Ingo Titze. She is also currently serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Iowa and is teaching "Anatomy and Physiology of the Speaking Mechanism" in the speech pathology department. She earned a bachelor's degree in music education and voice from Evangel University and a master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Northern Iowa.

She taught K-12 vocal and instrumental music for eight years in the public schools. She has been a private instructor of voice and piano for the past 15 years and continues to be an active performer. She completed the master's degree in speech and language pathology from the UI and has been a certified speech and language pathologist treating pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients encompassing a great diversity of etiologies since that time.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the UI encourages scholarly interaction to explore broad frontiers of knowledge and investigate complex ideas and problems. Obermann Scholars are stimulated by informal exchange of ideas with scholars from other disciplines and by uninterrupted blocks of time in which to pursue their research. Obermann Scholars have published numerous scholarly books and articles and have won millions of dollars in competitive external research funding for projects started at the Center.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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