Welcome to Visiting Professors of Practice, Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid, two world class opera singers and internationally renowned academics.
From this month Graeme and Valerie will be working with the staff and students at the university’s Institute of the Arts, focusing in particular on the university's position both nationally and also within the community. Graeme feels passionately that music and the performing arts have a wonderful way of making people feel good. He is eager to find ways that will enable the students to take their skills out into the community, performing both in regular venues and also in more unusual and challenging spaces, showcasing their talents and sharing their knowledge.
Roddy Hunter, Director of the university's Institute for the Arts said 'we are delighted and privileged to be joined by Graeme and Valerie. The university's award of visiting professorships properly recognises their outstanding contribution to opera internationally. Their desire to work closely with our performing arts students promotes the reputation and standing of the university. Working together will also benefit our external partnerships, identify new opportunities and enhance our delivery of a curriculum of the highest quality and substance for our students. I am thrilled to welcome them to the university's Institute of the Arts'.
Graeme's wish is to enhance the staffs’ existing teaching methods with lessons in voice projection, body language and performance skills to create an increasingly vibrant and creative working environment.
Valerie will focus on the technical aspects of singing and performance, encouraging the students to maximise their vocal and performance potential and inspiring them to be the best they can possibly be as performers.
As the first opera singer to perform on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, Valerie understands how the power and beauty of the human voice can captivate an audience. She is a great vocal technician, understanding how the entire body works to produce the required sound and above all she is an excellent communicator.
As part of preparing the University of Cumbria's students for employment post-graduation, Greg Arrowsmith, Musical Director on Hairspray, and Shelby Williams, Associate Director on Bend it like Beckham and Made in Dagenham, will be invited to conduct workshops at a Summer School that Graeme and Valerie hope to organise. "People like Greg and Shelby employ people", says Graeme, "We need to prepare our students for employment, teach them to be interdisciplinary - not only to dance, but act, write scripts and sing". Graeme fully believes that singing unites people, whatever their background or experiences. “Let's have a university choir - imagine performing in Carlisle Cathedral or Carlisle Castle - or with dancers on the shores of a lake?”
There are exciting times ahead, for staff and students, as these high profile academics create the opportunities to change perception of the university alongside promoting our commitment to performing arts and culture.