Dr Santisa Viljoen visited Austria during the first two weeks of October to deliver a paper at a conference on Music, Gender & Difference at the University of Music & Performing Arts in Vienna. This institution is the alma mater of vocalists such as Angelika Kirchschlager, Hanno Blaschke, and South Africa’s most famous soprano, Mimi Coertse.
The conference focused on the relevance of gender and gender construction in music within different contexts. Papers at the conference had an especially feministic and post-colonial perspective on classical music, jazz and popular music. Dr Viljoen was pleasantly surprised to meet a researcher from Germany who has been researching the music of Rastafarian women in Port Elizabeth and Knysna.
She also used the opportunity to chat with an alumnus, Jacques le Roux, who is the residential tenor at one of the larger opera houses in Austria (Linz), about the demands of a singing career in Europe.
It is an exceptional experience for any voice teacher to attend concerts in some of Europe’s finest concert halls. Not only is it an opportunity for career enrichment, but also an inspiration for the work that’s being done in voice studios. Performances of Le Nozze di Figaro in the Volksoper in Vienna (see main photo), Die Zauberflöte in Linz, Manon by Massenet as ballet in the Staatsoper in Vienna, and an evening of Mozart and Strauss in the Musikverein in Vienna left lasting impressions and memories that will undoubtedly contribute to her work with her voice students at the Conservatory.