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Bronwen Forbay brings international experience to class

SHSU opera professor played for Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela

Arts and Entertainment Editor

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 22:01

bronwen

Kizzie Frank | The Houstonian

SHSU professor Bronwen Forbay is a native of Durban, South Africa, and brings a powerful soprano to her classroom.

Queen Elizabeth II has watched her perform. And the late Nelson Mandela as well.

She is native to Durban, South Africa, and her powerful soprano voice has been heard around the world and the U.S.

And now it is mostly heard in the classroom at Sam Houston State University.

Adjunct voice professor Bronwen Forbay is the only female from South Africa to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts for voice performance.

Since coming to SHSU, she has performed multiple international and American opera roles including performances of Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Eugene Opera and Tulsa Opera.

Forbay continues her stage performances most recently as the soprano soloist in Mozart’s “Requiem”with the Brazos Valley Symphony. She also worked in conjunction with the Voces Intimae Society in Dallas, where she took an active part of their rendition of various gypsy songs.

An excerpt from Forbay’s doctoral research on “Afrikaans Art Song Literature” was selected for the Artist Series of the 2013 Texoma National Association of Teachers of Singing conference. Forbay has also received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 2013 as a finalist in the National Opera Association voice competition in South Africa.

Although Forbay maintains her performing career, she has found another career teaching students.

Forbay said she was referred to SHSU about two years ago by a former mentor and said that it is a “wonderful place to work.” She currently teaches voice classes with about 17 students.

Forbay said her achievements as an international performer has helped her coach students to a point they can perform on stages similar to the venues she’s stepped foot upon.

“One has to be mentally and physically strong,” she said. “I gained the love of language. To be a believable performer, you have to have a genuine love for music. Otherwise, you won’t get very far.” 

Forbay said she teaches her students about the importance of pursuing one’s passion. Allowing life to take one where he or she should go or where he or she belongs is the best thing anyone could do. It is a belief that has helped her throughout her career as an international opera singer.

“I heard a song on the radio, and I thought it was really lovely. I thought 'I want to sound like that,’” Forbay said. “If you go with it, you have an experience that you wouldn't have had otherwise. It's invigorating.”

Her impact as a teacher has helped elevate aspiring singers to follow in her footsteps.

Two of Forbay’s students from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati have gone on to make appearances on Broadway. Two of her voice students at SHSU were semi-finalists in the 2013 Texoma National Association of Teachers of Singing student auditions.

Other students of Forbay have performed roles in opera performances including “Little Red Riding Hood” and other fairytale scenes in the recent “Once upon an Opera” scenes program at SHSU.

Many of her students are members of the various choral ensembles at SHSU with various solosin the Women’s Choir Ensemble and the SHSU Chorale.

Forbay’s students will be starring in a voice recital here at SHSU scheduled for March 17. Forbay said she will continue to showcase her voice while carrying out her purpose as a professor by assisting her students in pushing to be award winning artist

 

Check out one of her performances here at about the 3:40 mark.

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