Renowned Vocalist, Voice Teacher Coming to Southeast Nov. 7-8



Oct. 21, 2003 – Judith Farris, a New York City vocalist and voice teacher, will present master classes for students at Southeast Missouri State University and for the public Nov. 7-8 on the Southeast campus.

Farris is a Southeast alumna who has enjoyed a successful career performing throughout the United States and Europe and has also developed a thriving voice studio in New York City. She will visit the campus to work with University students and community members, developing performance skills in a variety of styles and discussing methods for maintaining vocal health.

A vocal master class for University students in planned for 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 in Brandt Hall Room 205. A vocal master class open to the community is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 in Academic Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public. Singers interested in performing for Farris at either of the master classes should contact Chris Goeke, associate professor of music, at (573) 651-2605 or

Farris was born and raised in Cape Girardeau. She is a graduate of Cape Central High School and is a 1971 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, where she majored in voice and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. While at Southeast, she studied with Mary Lou Henry. Her first production was in a Southeast performance of “The Old Maid and the Thief.”

She credits a number of Southeast officials and supporters for encouraging her to go to New York and pursue a performing career. Among them are the late Dr. Mark Scully, former president of Southeast Missouri State University; the late Dr. Raymond Ritter Sr.; Dr. Doyle Dumas, then chair of Southeast’s Department of Music; and Mr. and Mrs. Martin Hecht of Cape Girardeau.

A protégé of the late Keith Davis, Farris is the teacher of many of New York’s finest singers. Some of the renowned “Broadway style” singers Farris has instructed include Tyne Daly (Gypsy), Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line), David James Carroll (Grand Hotel), Jeff Loeffelholz (Chicago), Jeff Denman (The Producers), and Betty Comden. Farris also is frequently called upon by non-singing actors such as Matthew Broderick (How to Succeed in Business), the late Peter Allen, and the late Anthony Quinn (Zorba) as the “specialist” who can get a non-singing “actor” type to pull off a singing role in a musical that both surprises and delights audiences in major Broadway productions. This is because her students enjoy a fluid natural sound, based on the “position for the condition of singing,” which is centered in the natural speaking voice. Whether a beginner or advanced singer, Farris is able to meet the student right where they are and enhance the singer’s technique by helping the singer get out of his or her own way.

Farris is often called upon to assist singers who have vocal damage due to poor or faulty technique and help them renew and rebuild their voice. Singers who are renowned but have lost their voice and ability to sing comfortably, have come to Farris and found themselves singing and back in their careers again.

The students in Farris’ studio learn to master all types of singing and are not limited by singing just classical repertoire, opera or “traditional” musical theater. Her singers master all types of singing that are commanded in the business today with ease and vocal health. In her studio, there are no limits to what a singer can do if their foundation is correct, she said. The positive flare with which she presents this technique is inspiring to both beginner and professional alike.

As a singer, Farris’ primary performance genre was opera. In addition to having had a successful career in Europe, she has enjoyed appearances with the Santa Fe Opera, the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Tulsa Opera, the Washington Opera, the Chicago Opera Theater, the Fort Worth Opera, the Connecticut Opera, the Toronto Opera, Hartford Opera and performances at Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center.

Farris has appeared with many of the finest orchestras and conductors, including the St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony, the American Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony, the Tulsa Orchestra and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. She has appeared and recorded with the New York Philharmonic (Beethoven “Choral Fantasy”), and has sung as a featured soloist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Farris has been a frequent guest with New York Musical Sacra and has sung under the baton of master conductors such as Leonard Slatkin.

Her many awards include the Marian Anderson Scholarship, the National Arts Club of New York City Contraltos, The Minna Kauffman Rudd Award from the Metropolitan Opera, The Lucrezia Bori Award, and the Metropolitan Opera Katherine Long Grant Award.