Vocal Arts


UCI Vocal Arts has a long tradition of performance excellence. The Vocal Arts program of study at UC Irvine provides intensive study and exceptional performing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to pursue a career in vocal music.  Undergraduates have regularly been accepted into prestigious graduate programs in research universities and conservatories, and graduate students have been successfully employed in university teaching and performing organizations.


Weekly master classes are augmented by guest classes presented here by such distinguished artists as George Shirley (2014 recipient of National Medal of Arts), Lawrence Brownlee, Elizabeth Futral, Pretty Yende, Roberta Alexander, Dean Anthony Griffey, Brian Asawa, and Paula Murrihy.

Students are offered additional performance opportunities through the Art Song and Artistry Series. Concerts have included works by California composers Mark Carlson, Alan Smith, Margaret Bonds, Jacqueline Hairston, and others like Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, and Florence Price. Whether it’s a Liederabend with songs by German composers, a Spanish Noche Cantando with songs in the Spanish language, or an Evening of Spirituals, performances are always engaging and great opportunities for students and the community.

In collaboration with UCI Symphony Orchestra, UCI Vocal Arts has been proud to present the Southern California premier of Ned Rorem's opera, Our Town (based on the play by Thornton Wilder), along with Puccini's Suor Angelica, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Still’s Highway 1, USA, and an Arias Concert with works from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Past staged productions include The Medium, Hansel and Gretel, The Old Maid and the Thief, and Dido and Aeneas, among others. Students may also audition for Drama productions, are heard with area orchestras and opera companies, and can collaborate across disciplines of the CTSA.

Home of the African American Art Song Alliance, CTSA is proud to host international conferences on this subject with guests from around the globe converging for performance, scholarly presentations, and panel discussions. The next will take place October 13 – 16, 2022.

Covid Remote Learning Activities

As with most of the campus, we have been taking advantage of electronic connectivity to continue excellent training of our young singers. For the 2020-21 academic year, this meant a shift in focus to training for the many video recorded auditions that are commonly required these days. It has also meant an increased opportunity for role preparation. To that end, we completed the work we began on Lori Laitman's The Scarlet Letter in Fall, and will begin work on Richard Thompson's opera, The Mask in the Mirror. Weekly master classes are still enjoyed by the singers, with weekly performance opportunities. Without a doubt, these have been trying times for the entire world, not the least of which is the impact felt in the creative and performing arts. We count ourselves privileged to continue in community engagement and building on the support for which our program is widely known.


UCI Opera

Exciting performances of broad ranging works, from Purcell, to Puccini, to contemporary masters like Rorem and Laitman, UCI Opera presents fully staged productions in conjunction with the UCI Symphony, at Irvine Barclay Theater. Join us on Instagram @uci_opera

Art Song and Artistry

The concert series is devoted to bringing Art Song to the attention of students and audiences alike, presenting events showcasing students and composers. Past programs include Wagner at 200 – a concert of song, featuring alumna Cari McAskill, recent finalist with the Liederkrantz International Voice Competition, Wagner Category; An Evening of Spirituals; Songs from the Iberian Expanse (with works in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan); The ABCs of Song: Songs of H. Leslie Adams, Samuel Barber, and Aaron Copland; and a concert devoted to women composers in the spring. Past events have included the African American Song Alliance national conference, master classes by local composers and recitals of a wide-ranging Art Song repertoire. Programs for prior African American Art Song Alliance conferences can be found here: AASA 2007, AASA 2012 and AASA 2017.


Guest Master Classes

Guests invited to present master classes for involving our students have included Lawrence Brownlee, Brian Asawa, Roberta Alexander, Elizabeth Futral, George Shirley, J'Nai Bridges, and Angela Brown, among many others..



UCI Vocal Arts provides outreach opportunities through performances and presentations in the community and in schools throughout Orange County (Creative Connections student scholars).


Student Success!

Grammy Nods!
Congratulations to alumna, Shabnam Kalbasi, for her solo participation in the 2021 Grammy-nominated IVES: COMPLETE SYMPHONIES, Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Congratulations to alumnus, G. Thomas Allen, for his solo participation in the 2021 Grammy-nominated CHOIRMASTER, Ricky Dillard

Current and former students from UCI Vocal Arts are competition winners:

Metropolitan Opera Council Western-Regional Auditions

NATS-LA Artist of the Year

Marian Anderson Voice Competition - NANM

California Women's Chorus Competition

Whittier New Century Singers Competition


Students regulary matriculate to top-tier graduate prgorams: University of Michigan, Peabody Conservatory - John Hopkins University, University of Southern California, Boston University, San Francisco Conservatory. Many go on to complete doctoral studies, thanks to their solid undergraduate and graduate education here!


Voice Faculty

Applied Voice Faculty

Darryl Taylor
Frances Young Bennett

Choral Activities: Irene Messoloras

Staff Principal Musicians:

Junko Nojima and Yuliya Minnina

Affiliated Faculty: Dr. Sunil Verma


2021-22 EVENTS

The Impresario, by W.A. Mozart
Music by W.A. Mozart, with Libretto by Stephanie the Younger (English adaptation by Giovanni Cardelli)
Darryl Taylor, artistic director, Stephen Tucker, conductor
May 7 – 8, 2022, Irvine Barclay Theatre
This production, set in the early 1960s, harkens back to the NBC Opera Theatre, when television broadcast of opera was commonplace for the major network.  "The Impresario" (Der Schauspieldirektor) K. 486, is regarded as a parody on the vanity of singers, who argue over status and pay. Mozart described his singspiel as "comedy with music." The work was written during a very creative period in his life, at the same time as his Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which premiered later the same year. Stage direction by Emily Thebaut. Please check here for updates.

2020-21 EVENTS

Darryl Taylor Gives Master Classes at New England Conservatory
Click here to enjoy the master classes taught by Dr. Taylor
February 6 and 7, 2021

Save the Date: The African American Art Song Alliance 25th Anniversary Celebration Conference is being planned for October 13 - 16, 2022. Details to come!


2019 - 20 EVENTS:

UCI Vocal Arts Reunion Concert - Dr. Phillip Harris, with guest Dalia Rodriguez
Junko Nojima, piano
October 25, 2019, 8:00 p.m., Winifred Smith Hall
Dr. Harris and Ms. Rodriguez return to their alma mater to provide a thrilling evening of songs, arie, duets, and spirituals.

Songs of Lori Laitman (caneled due to pandemic)
Junko Nojima and Yuliya Minina, piano
March 14, 2020, 8:00 p.m., Winifred Smith Hall
Lori Laitman is one of America's most prolific and well-respected art song composers. Students will perform from her prodigious output.

The Scarlet Letter (canceled due to pandemic)
Music by Lorii Laitman, with Libretto by David Mason
Darryl Taylor, artistic director, Stephen Tucker, conductor
May 9 – 10, 2020, Irvine Barclay Theatre
"The Scarlet Letter" is based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne and adapted by Lori Laitman, one of the most distinguished composers of art song and opera in the 21st century. The story, set in Puritan times, follows the young Hester Prynne, who is charged with adultery, resulting in the birth of her daughter. The community forces her to wear the scarlet letter “A” embroidered on her chest. Hester struggles to create a new life, wearing the letter as both a badge of shame and a beautifully wrought human artifact. It’s a classic novel presented as a musical powerhouse you won’t want to miss.

For more information, please view our Calendar of Events.