Sofia Selowsky: The sound of music in Salzburg

by Artist Development Fellow

With the support of a 2010 Artist Development Fellowship, Sofia Selowsky '12, concentrating in History with a secondary field in Music, traveled to the Salzburg Festival in Austria to study vocal performance this summer. Her following account is one of a series of blog posts by this year's fellowship recipients.

For five weeks I lived in Salzburg, Austria while participating in the University of Miami’s summer vocal program. Salzburg is an incredibly beautiful city surrounded by the Alps, and in addition to boasting beautiful architecture and amazing food, it is also the home of the biggest summer music festival in the world: The Salzburg Festival. Attractions include master classes, concerts, operas, plays and young artist projects. Music lovers come from all over to see some of the world's most famous and talented musicians and performers. Artists include Andras Schiff, Anna Netrebko, Daniel Barenboim, Ann Sophie-Mutter and Joyce Didonato, to name a few.

I lived with an Austrian family about 15 minutes outside the Salzburg city center. The family has two adorable children—a 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy—both of whom were very helpful in teaching me German. Their house is lovely and is near a beautiful lake and mansion where much of The Sound of Music wasfilmed. Even better, from my room I had a beautiful view of the Alps, which made me think: I may never return to Cambridge.

I also took daily German classes and voice lessons at the Salzburg College, located in the Salzburg’s old city, right on the beautiful Salzach River. Mozart was born in Salzburg, and almost every building and store there seems to pay homage to him. He is my favorite composer, so naturally I was in heaven.

The festival offers 500 performances throughout July and August. I attended the premier of Jederman, a famous Austrian play. It has been performed every year since the festival first started 90 years ago. I participated in a recital competition and was one of the winners. As a result, I had the honor of performing a few pieces from my program in the famous Marble Hall of the Mirabell Schloss (castle), a venue where Mozart once gave concerts.

I have learned an incredible amount from this program, both from the wonderful teachers and from my peers—some of the most talented singers I have met. Yet the most important part of my experience is my new found love for the city of Salzburg and its rich Austrian culture. I will truly miss Austria’s pace, its food, its fascinating history and most of all its deep appreciation for classical music. Farewell Salzburg! Hope to see you again soon!

[Caption: Sophia Selowsky ‘12 (left), with soprano Renée Fleming during a February 2010 OFA-sponsored master class at Paine Hall, studied vocal performance in Salzburg, Austria this summer. (Jacob Belcher photo) ]