Young singers get a first glimpse

Lisa Wall-Urgero
[From guest blogger and Lister, Lisa Wall-Urgero]

It’s true, I am absolutely biased.

I hold an unfair prejudice for California Lutheran University’s Summer Vocal Institute – affectionately referred to by its faculty and alum as CLUSVI (and pronounced “CLUES-vee”). But as a charter faculty member and principal pianist, I have, you see, earned the right to such a bias.

Heidi Valencia Vas

To my knowledge, there is no other program like CLUSVI in Southern California. For eight days, young singers, ages 12-19, are immersed in age-appropriate master classes in classical and musical theater repertoire. These master classes are largely responsible for my bias, as they are run alternately by professors (L to R) Angela Hicks and Heidi Valencia Vas. Each of them is a fine voice teacher and virtuosic vocalist.  (I speak to that from my own experience, working with them over the last decade as both collaborative pianist and as a voice student.) But what makes these women such an amazing team is their ability to do with this fragile age group what other master teachers cannot – find what is right in each student, and help that singer move forward from wherever they are. Singers are never made wrong. Even the most inexperienced, meekest adolescent teen is given an opportunity to shine. And because the atmosphere created by the professors is one of support and encouragement, the other students become cheerleaders for their peers. From the piano bench, I can hardly sit still, it’s so stunning to behold.

Yet, there is so much more to this program than just the master classes and choral training, daily theory and sightsinging and private coaching. Past years have included samplings of yoga for singers; Alexander Technique; acting; repertoire classes; and movement, to name a few. In addition to the week-end student solo and choral performances, the schedule includes faculty performances and a coffee house performance with a professional jazz duo featuring CLUSVI faculty, alum and students. And somehow, there’s time for fun and social interaction, too; after all, these are teens!

Each year, when the program ends, I swear to myself that I will share this with Listers, vocal educators and all the singers and parents of singers I know. This year, though I’m cutting it close, I can’t let you miss out on the opportunity to know what you’re missing. It’s really that good.

Spread the word, so young singing students can sign up now. There are still a few spots open!


Summer Vocal Institute

July 7-14

For program information and registration instructions, go to the CLUSVI website.

Located on the CLU campus, this day program for the aspiring young singer offers the developing student an opportunity to explore the world of vocal technique, solo repertoire, choral singing and performance.

Program Highlights

  • Professional university-level faculty
  • College preview courses
  • Intense daily training for the whole artist
  • Emphasis on the individual singer
  • Limited class sizes
  • Academic setting

Program Requirements

Due to the individualized nature of the Vocal Institute, we invite students of all levels to participate. Whether you have been studying voice for five years or just started singing in the choir, we welcome you to the Summer Vocal Institute.

It’s our sincere hope to instill in each of our students an understanding of their OWN instruments and a desire to develop their INDIVIDUAL artistry. It is because of this mission that class space is extremely limited. We are offering two class groups, with no more than 25 students in each group.

For more information, or to register for the program see

Hope you can join us!



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