Karen Bruestle, a Weber State University employee of 21 years in the vocal program, hosted a unique musical recital to highlight faculty in the performing arts department on Nov. 6.
Bruestle is the head of vocal performance and vocal pedagogy as well as the director of the opera program. Beyond teaching at WSU, Bruestle has enjoyed an illustrious vocal career, performing with the Utah Opera and doing performances all over the United States, Canada and overseas.
Bruestle has had extensive experience performing through mediums such as opera, oratorio, recital, concert and theater productions. Regardless of the medium or style that she is using, her preparation and delivery process remain relatively consistent.
“I always try to look at what the words are saying, what emotion it brings out in me and how it makes me feel,” Bruestle said. “Then, I try to translate that to the audience through my voice.”
This particular performance has been in the works for several months. While on sabbatical in the spring, Bruestle was inspired by a new repertoire of music that she discovered through teaching Zoom classes to musicians all over the country. Using the new songs, most of which derived from the genres of musical theater and cabaret, Bruestle created and performed this same concert at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden.
Bruestle and her pianist, Gerta Weimer, as well as guest artists Maurie Tarbox and Andrew Barratt Lewis, began re-rehearsing in August to prepare for the November show.
“I got a really great trial run in April of this very recital, and I decided that since I’m back from sabbatical and it’s been a long time since my students have heard me sing, I would do it again,” Bruestle said.
Bruestle said it is important to Weber State staff that students pursuing a career in music or performing arts have mentors who are willing to “walk their talk.” This is why the university hosts several faculty-focused recitals and productions. The goal is for students to see their teachers and mentors participating in their craft and learn from them.
“It’s important to me that my students have the opportunity to watch somebody who has been in this profession for a long time that they can learn and benefit from,” Bruestle said. “I learned so much from my mentors and teachers, and now it’s my job to be that same figure for my students now.”
Everyone involved in this project, including the pianist and guest performers, has developed a strong connection and collaboration.
“It’s really nice to cross over boundaries and collaborate with each other,” Bruestle said. “It’s always fun to work together and do projects with each other. It inspires more creativity and we try to do it as often as we can.”
The performing arts department faculty expressed excitement about this performance and said they are looking forward to doing more recitals similar to this in the future.