Cheryl Studer - Early Childhood and Education

Early Childhood and Education

Studer was born in Midland, Michigan to parents Carl W. Studer and Elizabeth S. Studer (formerly Smith, later Peterson), in a family of three children. She began studying the piano at age five and a few years later the viola. She became interested in becoming an opera singer after listening to the album "Callas à Paris" at the age of 12. Her mother and stepfather, Carl A. Peterson, Jr., responded by giving her voice lessons with Gwendolyn Pike, a local opera singer and voice teacher. Studer attended Herbert Henry Dow High School, then transferred to the Interlochen Arts Academy for her junior and senior years and graduated from there in 1974. Following high school, Studer studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music but left the program after only one year, deciding to move with her family to Tennessee. She continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance in 1979. Studer won several awards and competitions during this time, including the High Fidelity/Musical America Award in 1977 and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1978.

While in college, Studer attracted the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977), where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in 1976 in J. S. Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa was so impressed with Studer's performance that he invited her for a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978/1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, Studer attended a course for foreign students on the art of the German Lied at the Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien, Austria. In this program, Studer's teachers included Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender, and Hans Hotter. Hotter convinced Studer to remain in Europe to study further with him at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Vienna. Studer studied with Hotter for one year before launching out on her professional career. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis for excellence in Lied interpretation.

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