The Vocal Arts Program


RESIDENT FACULTY(confirmed as of September 2016; other faculty to be announced)

Dawn Upshaw, soprano, Head of Vocal Arts Program
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Margot Garrett, vocal coach
Lucy Shelton, soprano
Alan Smith, vocal coach
Sanford Sylvan, baritone

"The summer I spent at Tanglewood was probably the most important and productive of my student years. The incredible beauty of the setting, being exposed to such a rich and diverse range of music making, the quality of instruction, the level of accomplishment among my peers…all these things provided constant inspiration." --Dawn Upshaw, Vocal Fellow 1983

It is the mission of the Vocal Arts Program to provide its Fellows a diverse set of experiences within the vocal repertoire. 

Projected projects for 2017 include:

  • Performances of Schubert lieder and chamber music, performed with pianist Emanuel Ax and principal players of the Boston Symphony
  • Performances with the TMC orchestra, including Mahler Lieder TBD
  • An evening of songs by Stephen Sondheim, performed with the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood 
  • An intensive exploration and performances of Bach Cantatas, lead by composer and Bach specialist John Harbison 
  • A program devoted to the American Songbook, and to the celebration of the 100th birthday year of Ella Fitzgerald
  • Vocal chamber music, collaborating with TMC instrumentalists, from both the standard and contemporary repertoire
  • A program of works on German poetry lead by Stephanie Blythe
  • Other substantive art song projects from the central canon and beyond

And other projects to be announced.

All Vocal Fellows will take part in weekly classes with master teacher Sanford Sylvan, and in master-classes with major artists visiting the Boston Symphony -- this summer to include Simon Keenlyside -- as well as with resident faculty including Stephanie Blythe, Alan Smith, and Dawn Upshaw.

Click here to watch excerpts from the 2014 web series New Tanglewood Tales featuring Vocal Fellow Connor McDonald!Tanglewood Tales

The Vocal Arts Program Application and Audition Process


Preliminary Round:

All applicants to the Tanglewood Music Center must submit an application, including a $75 application fee, via

Applicants to the Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Arts Program must be between 20 and 35 years old as of June 1, 2017.  

As part of completing the application, singers will be required to submit:

Audio recordings, live and unedited, consisting of ONLY the following two selections, which must be in contrasting styles:

1)   An art song (performed with piano)
2)   An aria (performed with piano or orchestra)

Supporting Materials, consisting of the following:

1)   Current resume
2)   Letter of recommendation from a professional musician other than one's current teacher
3)  Fully detailed and complete repertoire list (not a generalized or representative one) that includes all works studied, indicating with an asterisk those works performed in public
4) Audio recording details, indicating titles and composers of the works performed, and date and circumstances of performance (studio recording, live performance recording, name of accompanist or accompanying ensemble if appropriate, etc.)


Live Round:

Results of the preliminary round will be emailed to applicants by October 31, 2016. Based on the recommendations of our faculty, live auditions will be scheduled for qualified applicants. The applicant will indicate preferred audition dates, times, and locations on his or her initial application. If invited to the live round, the TMC will contact you via email to schedule your audition as soon as possible.

Live Audition Dates and Locations:                

Los Angeles: November 12, 2016
Chicago: November 14, 2016
Cincinnati: November 15, 2016
New York City: November 16, 17, & 18, 2016
Boston: November 19, 2016

Live Audition Repertoire & Requirements:

Singers singing in the live round should present a total of FIVE selections: art songs in three different languages and two arias in two different languages; at least one aria and one art song must be in English. A work in a contemporary or modernist idiom* is required as one of the selections (most works written after 1950 would certainly fall into this category, although works by Stravinsky or Schoenberg, for example, would also be suitable). A pianist is provided at the audition although singers may bring their own if they wish.

Required Supporting Materials at Live Auditions:

1)   An updated resume
2)   A typed list of the five selections presented
3)   A letter of recommendation from a professional musician other than one's current teacher (this can either be a copy of the recommendation letter you already submitted, or a new letter.
4)   A fully detailed and complete repertoire list (not a generalized or representative one) that includes all works studied, indicating with an asterisk those works performed in public

Singers must have the required repertoire and supporting materials prepared for the audition. The audition panel reserves the right to refuse to hear an audition if all of these conditions are not met; no refunds will be given.


Those applicants accepted to the live round but who are unable to audition live may be permitted submit a video recording by contacting us at

Video recordings must contain all audition repertoire in the order listed, played in a CONTINUOUS UNEDITED SEGMENT; any indication that there has been editing or that recording equipment was paused/stopped between selections will result in the disqualification of the applicant.

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