The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey /
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Vocal and choral students tutored remotely by three artists in residency

Photo of Amanda Flynn, one of three artists in residency hosted by City College vocal department this fall (courtesy Amanda Flynn)

Nationwide campus closures in mid-March allowed college vocal and choral departments access to more artists in residence since most touring performers also had to isolate at home. The City College music department has taken advantage of this rare opportunity to have three world-class vocal artists in residence this year.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to work with some of the finest singers in the world,” said Daniel Paulson, professor of voice and choral music. “They would’ve had many tours and are traveling all of the time. We wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity for them to invest any time in Sac City.”

As choral and vocal students adapt to engaging with each other virtually, they also have the chance to study this semester with Amanda Flynn, Devin Dawson and VOCES8, according to Paulson.

Flynn is a vocal coach who works with Broadway performers and was a colleague of Paulson’s at Columbia University. Dawson, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, was a student of Paulson’s when he worked as an instructional assistant at American River College. Paulson also knows the founder of VOCES8, an acappella octet from the United Kingdom, which helped in getting them to work with City College singers.

“What I think is really awesome is my students get to work with them and build a relationship with these individuals,” said Paulson. “It’s a networking opportunity.”

The residency with VOCES8 gives choral students free access to watch VOCES8’s Live From Home performances, according to Paulson. The octet will work with singers via Zoom and teach students songs from the VOCES8 repertoire.

Paulson explained that other guest artists are still being planned for this semester as well.

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“My gut feeling knew that we would be online for the next year,” said Paulson. “So I’ve only been working online planning. I’ve planned with VOCES8 for a year.”

According to Paulson, despite not being able to schedule live performances for City College choral groups, the department plans to do pre-recorded concerts as well as a concert with VOCES8 by the end of the semester. Recitals will be held for all the voice classes as well.

That kind of recording requires each singer to set up a productive recording space at home.

Paulson created a checklist for students with specifics about finding a good space free of distractions and ensuring that their audio settings make them sound their best.

“For choir, I’m giving them choral activities and some of that singing happens together,” Paulson explained.

Choral students initially recorded themselves singing, and Paulson edited each person’s performance and incorporated it into the final video of them singing in unison. However, like most experiments, it was not always perfect the first time.

“We learn from the process and fix it in the second round,” said Paulson.

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