Cristin Colvin: Finding Much to Sing About

Posted on: Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 by Brent Treash
Cristin Colvin, a vocal and piano major, says she’s in the “young artist

Cristin Colvin, a vocal and piano major, says she’s in the “young artist" phase of her life ---gaining performance experience wherever she can in summer opera festivals and small companies. She also performs jazz on the side for fun, and in the next few months, she’s planning to start a new band in her town in Broomfield County, between Denver and Boulder, Colorado.

If that’s not impressive enough, the 2009 Emory & Henry graduate has more news to sing about.

Earlier this spring, Colvin performed at a black-tie benefit gala for the Castleton Festival at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. The Evening of Music was hosted by German actress Deitlinde Turban Maazel and philanthropist Daisy Soros to honor the legacy of Maestro Lorin Maazel and to benefit the 2015 Castleton Festival.

“I was lucky to be in the Castleton Artist Training Seminar (CATS) during the 2014 season, so I was brought in for the performance, along with other alumni,” explained Colvin, who shared the stage with Lang Lang, a well-known concert pianist, and Alec Baldwin, actor, producer and comedian, who offered opening remarks.

“Needless to say, it was both humbling and nerve-wracking to sing five feet away from Alec Baldwin, and the hostesses who are key players in the lifeline of this community and art form,” said Colvin.

Colvin’s participation in the Castleton Artist Seminar has offered her invaluable opportunities in the music field.

The training seminar is one of the broadest preparations for pre-professional singers available in the United States today. The seminar consists of seven-weeks of study with vocal training, classes in European languages, acting and performance skills, monologue studies, Alexander Technique, dance, stage combat, career preparation, audition techniques, digital marketing, and multiple performance opportunities.

 Colvin explained that every participant of the training seminars becomes part of a network for the future. The artistic leaders of the CATS program provide advice and guidance to the alumni, and leaders shape the Castleton Festival programs based on the artists who will be performing.

“The CATS program was a unique summer festival experience in that the young artists attending as apprentices worked alongside up-and-coming professionals and renowned teachers and directors, ate meals with them at the community fire hall, and shared housing with them on Maestro Maazel's farm in Rappahannock County,” said Colvin.

“The farm was a great equalizer in a way, where everyone could focus on rehearsals, learn from each other, and grow in musical maturity. I had the chance to sing in the chorus of Madama Butterfly and work in sitzprobe rehearsals with Maestro shortly before his passing. As a CAT, I got voice lessons and coachings with teachers who had shared the stage with the likes of Joan Sutherland and have been part of landmark recordings of classic repertoire. It was quite something to get all of these unique artistic perspectives, to absorb them, and take them back home at the end of the festival.”

But, there’s no way the alumna can forget the education she received at Emory & Henry College. She credits her education at Emory & Henry for providing her with the foundation she needs to excel. While at E&H, Colvin was awarded academic scholarships, including the Clarice Hankley Piano Scholarship.

Without a doubt, my two major professors, Dr. Lisa Withers and Dr. Stephen Sieck, were invaluable to me. I had many moments of doubt, but they always pushed me. I may not have fully appreciated it until years later, but now I see where they were guiding me. Even after leaving music for so many years, they have been there both as great cheerleaders and resources.Cristin ColvinClass of 2009

The young musician didn't start singing until she was 16, however, she’s been playing piano since age 9, and she played the violin throughout middle school and high school.

After graduation from Emory & Henry, the musician strayed from her passion before circling back to music.

She briefly went to graduate school for women's studies in Chicago, where she was interested in studying the cultural aspects of music through the lens of gender studies. Later, she worked in higher education administration for two years before she decided a musical career answered her need to feel fulfilled.

Back on the music path, she went to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn a master’s degree in music. This brought her back to music.

This summer, the performer returned to Castleton Festival in the premiere of Derrick Wang's Scalia/Ginsburg. “I also got to be a supernumerary in the show as a statue that comes to life, so I got to do a lot of improv and physical comedy.”

She’s also planning to start a new band in Colorado as a follow-up to the Cristin Colvin Quartet she organized at her previous home in Illinois.

A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Colvin is married to Daniel James, and their family of three live in Broomfield County between Denver and Boulder, Colo. “I love mountains; they are such a part of my identity and give me such energy. What an exciting new chapter in life to be out by the Rockies, the geographically volatile cousin of the Smokies.”

Hometown:  Johnson City, Tennessee
Major:  Vocal and piano performance
Extra Curricular Activities:  Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Opera Workshop


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