MASTER CLASSES and SONGSHOPS with CLAUDIA HOMMEL
In Chicago, Claudia leads an ongoing workshop in song interpretation,
almost every Tuesday evening at the DePaul School of Music (Community Music Division)
many Saturday afternoons at the Venue at 1550 South State Street.
Claudia's hands-on workshop is an opportunity for theatre and music students, for novices to professionals, for youth to seniors, to strengthen their interpretative abilities in song. One-time master classes are available at home and on tour, ages 12 and up
- Discovery and Process
- Choosing the Performers
- Selecting the Songs
- Other Participants
- All in the Timing
- The Cabaret Project
- Claudia's Performance and Academic Background
- Participants talk about Songshop
This is a class of discovery and process
Choosing the performers
Do not limit the selection of performers to those with the "best voices". Strength of conviction and communication along with basic musicality is for our purposes just as important as quality or range of voice. There have been plenty of singers (Mabel Mercer, Lotte Lenya, Martha Schlamme, Julie Wilson come to mind) whose voices when beyond their prime still enraptured their audiences. How did they do that?
Selecting the songs
Each performing participant should bring two songs, one to present to the workshop and a second one in case, a) the first song is so spectacular there's nothing to add, b) it's so uninteresting there's no way to save it as a piece of theatre or c) we have enough time to work with both songs.
Singers may be accompanied by fellow musicians (on piano, guitar, accordion, etc.). In fact, we encourage it. The accompanists will be fair game as well. They can learn a lot about how to hold their end of the story and how to breathe and enunciate with the singer.
The auditors play an important role as well. Every performer needs an audience. An audience of one's peers can be the toughest crowd to win over. The audience should come with as open a mind as possible: embrace the effort, applaud the new discoveries, be on the lookout for the process and not just the end result. Auditors who are also singers will get a lot out of the exercise if they keep their own songs in mind as they listen to the comments. Finally, auditors are often used as "foils" and asked to be on stage to serve as the object of affection or derision, the sympathetic ear, the person to whom the singer is talking.
All in the timing
For the master class, please allot 15 minutes for each singer (90 minutes would allow us a maximum of six performers). Where we have the luxury of time, we can work over extended periods up to three hours.
Claudia's "Songshop" sessions (4 weeks or more at a time) offer us the opportunity to fine-tune, deepen and address more aspects to the performance process. They allow us to return to a song over time, to recognize and challenge the "easy" patterns we fall into, and to bring to our work more awareness of the changing times, from inside and outside the classroom. We create an environment of respect, a place to nurture confidence and risk-taking. Some songshops conclude with public performances opportunities. The proof of progress is in the sustained ovations!
An extended schedule will allow us to convert the song preparation process into a finished product where the participants put on their own cabaret. Regardless of musical genre, everyone can get into the act. Because intimacy is the hallmark of cabaret, the cabaret performance can take place in any space that allows direct contact between audience and performer.
Performance and academic background
Claudia Hommel brings to student and adult singers more than three decades of stage and song career. She approaches each student and each song with insights and energy that come from her own studies with international singer Martha Schlamme, actor/director Alvin Epstein, music director Steve Blier, voice teacher Roberta Vatske, various Shakespeare workshops, Art Song sessions led by Dalton Baldwin, Meisner technique studio work, and dance.
Claudia specializes in cabaret shows and recitals of French chansons, art songs, and American songbook standards-touring to performing arts centers, museums, universities and high schools from coast to coast, from Paris to Peoria. She is on faculty at the Community Music Division of DePaul University in Chicago.
Born in Paris, France and raised in Detroit, Claudia acquired a Masters in Library Science and worked as an archivist before going on to New York City to pursue a career in theatre and music. Calling Chicago home, she is a founding member of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and is a member of the Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Since 1981, she has been on the roster of BOCES Long Island, NY. The Illinois Arts Council has selected her as an ArtsTour Roster artist since 1998 and as Arts-in-Education artist since 1999. She has presented clinic sessions for Illinois Music Educators Association. Her "Cabaret-Paree" recordings and the Jazz Fauré Project are available on the Maison Clobert label here under our Media menu.Follow this link to: