Music Active Voice Instructors
Westmont Voice Instructors
Born in Romania, Emil Dorian Cristescu left the country in 1986. After a few years spent in Italy, Germany, Switzerland he moved to United States where he went back to school. A Bachelor’s Degree in voice/performance from the University of Arizona, a Master’s Degree from Indiana University and a Doctoral Degree from University of California at Santa Barbara, gives him more than adequate academic background but also a vast performing background.
He has performed in a wide variety of operatic roles among which two world premiers, Performed in Oratorios, Requiems, as well as TV and other camera appearances His facile ability to learn music and memorize text as well as a cognizant grasp of English, Russian, French, German, Italian and his own Romanian language is testimony of a fine academic knowhow and musicianship. His acting technique is sure and he is capable of dramatic interpretations, from broad comedy, where his comic timing is sure and effective, to the heartfelt and honest sympathy required in productions such as “ La Boheme”. He had worked with famous teachers in the filed. Among them are Giorgio Tozzi, Virginia Zeani, Elizabeth Mannion. He performed on stage with the likes of Pablo Elvira, Eduardo del Campo, Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, etc. He performs in Oratorios/Requiems, such as the 2006 Requiem tour in Western Europe with CalPoly University. He is also the winner of numerous competitions, honors and grants, including among them the Igor Gorin Memorial Award, Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, Academy of the West in Montecito -Leni Fe Bland competition, Ellen Faul Gordon, and The Metropolitan Opera Voice Competition. And now, he is a faculty member of the prestigious Westmont College, in Montecito, California where he continues to give his amassed knowledge from around the world to a new group of young artists, all part of Westmont and part of a new refined group or classical artists, that will happily represent Westmont College on the world stage.
Dr. Linda Di Fiore, Mezzo-Soprano and Regents Professor Emeritus of Voice at the University of North Texas, currently serves as Area Head of Voice at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and Voice Teacher for the Mosher Studio Artists for Opera Santa Barbara. She has performed professionally for over forty years as a soloist in opera, oratorio, recital, and musical theatre. Her career has included guest performances with such groups as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Opera Santa Barbara, Minnesota Opera, Bach Aria Festival in New York City, Orlando Opera, Pensacola Oratorio Society, Wichita Opera, Music Theatre of Wichita, Winter Haven Messiah Society, North Florida Arts Opera Series, Longview Opera, Joffrey Ballet, Dallas-Ft. Worth Ballet Theatre, Texas Choral Artists, Orchestra of New Spain, Arlington Choral Society, Richardson Symphony, San Angelo Symphony, WMCA Choral Society of Taipei, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, and Da Ponte String Quartet (resident quartet of Maine). Operatic roles include Carmen, Maddalena, Orlovsky, Old Prioress, Principessa, Suzuki, and Cherubino. She is in demand as an adjudicator for national and regional level competitions, including the Ziering-Conlon Song Competition, Ft. Worth Opera McCammon Competition, Opera Colorado, National Opera Association, AIMS Meistersinger Competition, National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award (NATSAA), Classical Singer Competition, Metropolitan Opera Council District Auditions, and numerous concerto competitions at prominent universities throughout the US.
Nichole Dechaine currently teaches private voice lessons at Westmont College. She graduated from the University of Redlands and earned her master’s degree and doctorate from UC Santa Barbara, where she taught for six years. Dechaine is an active performer with UCSB, Opera Santa Barbara, the Music Academy of the West, the Amherst Early Music Festival Baroque Academy in Connecticut, and numerous local ensembles including Vocal Scholars, Santa Barbara Quire of Voyces and the Santa Barbara Choral Society. She also sings at All Saints’-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
Dr. Robert Rockabrand, Professor Emeritus from Principia College, earned his Bachelor’s Degree in vocal performance, and his Master of Music Degree in Choral Performance from Westminster Choir College. He joins the Westmont College faculty as an adjunct voice instructor in fall 2011. In 1969 he was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Stanford University. He was a professor at Westminster Choir College, Ball State University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and Principia College, and held the Charles Stewart Harding Mott Distinguished Professorship Chair at Principia until his retirement in 1997. At Westminster he prepared major choral works for, and also sang with, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra and The Berlin Philharmonic. While a doctoral student at Stanford, he performed the same duties for The San Francisco Symphony. As Principia College’s choral director, Dr. Rockabrand conducted major choral works with orchestra, led frequent tours in the United States, conducted the orchestra and also acted in musical theater productions. He was a voice teacher and vocal coach at Ball State University, NCSA and Principia College, where he chaired numerous junior and senior voice recitals. Many of his students now earn their livelihoods in the professional world and/or as college or private studio voice teachers. Dr. Rockabrand has lectured and performed in England, France, Germany, Austria, India, and Hawaii, taught in Elderhostel programs, and soloed and accompanied in churches for more than 50 years. With his wife Sara and other musicians he has presented classical recitals and Broadway-variety shows.
Sara Turner Rockabrand has enjoyed an active career as a performer and teacher. She will join the Westmont College faculty as an adjunct voice instructor in fall 2011. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, where she studied voice, choral conducting and piano, and earned degrees in both Music Performance and Music Education. She pursued master's level work at Westminster Choir College, the University of Utah, and Southern Illinois University, as well as studies in historic dance at Stanford University. Her performing experience includes solo recitals, oratorio work, and church soloing, as well as choral performances with The New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and other orchestras. In 2008 she performed on a program at Steinway Hall in New York City. While serving as a teacher in the Princeton, New Jersey Public Schools from 1962-66, she co-authored the first comprehensive vocal music curriculum for the district. She continues to serve as a consultant for Kodaly and Suzuki-based programs in music education, as well as in historic dance. Mrs. Rockabrand served as a voice teacher and vocal coach at Ball State University from 1969-1974, and at Principia College from 1975 to 2010, where she chaired numerous junior and senior voice recitals. Her students have gone on to complete successful graduate degrees at major universities, and many are pursuing careers as professional singers and teachers. Together with her husband Bob she has lectured and performed in England, Germany, Austria, India, and Hawaii, presenting both classical recitals and Broadway-style productions. They also received the Alumni Merit Award from Westminster Choir College in 1996 for excellence in teaching.