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Freda Herseth (Mezzo-soprano)

Born: Seattle, Washington, USA

The American mezzo-soprano and voice teacher, Freda Herseth, graduated cum laude from the University of Puget Sound, where she studied with Dr. Thomas Goleeke. She received a Master of Music degree and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with the distinguished mezzo and contemporary music specialist Jan DeGaetani. A Fulbright fellowship later allowed her to continue her studies in Munich, and until 1995, when she was appointed assistant professor of voice at the University of Michigan, her career was centered in Germany.

Heralded by the Munich Abendzeitung as a “mezzo-soprano discovery”, Freda Herseth has sung many operatic roles, receiving critical acclaim for her performances in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel, and Dinah in Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.

Freda Herseth has performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Europe, Russia, Israel, and the USA, and has become well known for her sensitive performances of contemporary works, including many composed for her. She sang in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Experience at the Stuttgart Opera with the Stuttgart State Theater Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies in 1984, and in the world premiere of Richard Wernick’s…and a time for peace with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, under Riccardo Muti at the Ravenna Festival in 1995. She has also sung with the Israel Sinfonietta, Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra, New York New Music Ensemble, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and The Folger Consort of Washington D.C. She has performed at the Vienna Festival, Warsaw Autumn Festival, Festival d'Automme at the Bastille Opera in Paris, Steirischer Herbst in Graz and with the American Music Theater Festival of Philadelphia.

Freda Herseth has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a DAAD/Fulbright Grant, a stipend from the Richard Wagner Society in Bayreuth, and fellowships to the Aspen and Tanglewood music festivals. The International Voice Foundation awarded Ms. Herseth the 1997 Van Lawrence Fellowship in recognition of excellence in the field of vocal pedagogy. She was awarded an honorary degree Doctor of Music from the University of Puget Sound in 2001.

Freda Herseth is Chair of the Voice Department and Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Michigan, teaching voice and vocal pedagogy. She has taught at the Brevard Music Center, the Aria Festival of Ontario, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Voice Foundation’s Annual Symposium, and has given master classes at the University of Puget Sound, Indiana University, the Cleveland Institute, the University of Northern Illinois, and Baylor University.

Since 1995, Freda Herseth has collaborated with Dr. Norman Hogikyan, Director or the Vocal Health Center of School of Medicine at the University of Michigan. Together they have produced the video “The Living Voice”, which was selected by the University and presented at Celebrate Invention 2001 (Inventor Recognition, University of Michigan). She works as a singing voice therapist at the Vocal Health Center with Dr. Hogikyan, otolaryngologist, Marc Haxor, speech therapist, and Professor Leslie Guinn, singing voice therapist. She is co-author, with Professor Gregory Wakefield and Maureen Mellody, of “Modal Distribution Analysis and Synthesis of a Soprano’s Sung Vowels”, Journal of Voice, Volume 15, Number 4.

Freda Herseth has recorded for CRI, Crystal, Gasparo, MMC, South German Radio/Television, Hessen Radio (Frankfurt), Bavarian Radio (Munich), ORF Austrian Radio/Television, RAI Italian Radio, and Northeastern Records.

Source: Milken Archive Website; PAS-Conference Website (October 2002)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (January 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Fiora Contino


BWV 243

Links to other Sites

Milken Archive: People: Freda Herseth

PAS-Conference October 3-5, 2002: The Biographical Touch - The Voice Teacher as Voice Therapist: Imagination and Artistry in the Clinic? Freda Herseth

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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