Rodney native accepted to German performing arts institute program
NATCHEZ — Ann Gabrielle Richardson’s first trip to Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center when she was young put her on the path to pursuing a life filled with music.
The performances of Puccini’s “Tosca” and Broadway classic “Oklahoma” during the Natchez Festival of Music inspired Richardson to pursue music, and a three-week trip to Germany is something the Rodney native hopes will solidify her choice and advance her career.
Richardson, who was homeschooled through high school, graduated from Millsaps College in the spring and will soon begin the remainder of her first year at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is pursing her master’s degree.
In November, Richardson, 23, auditioned for a place in a program hosted at the International Performing Arts Institute located in Kiefersfelden, Germany.
The three and a half-week program is designed to help singers market themselves, develop networks and important contacts while entering into the rich world of European opera, among other things.
“When I had the opportunity to audition for the program I jumped on it because this program is very good for people at my stage in their career by helping with the next steps of career development,” Richardson said. “The audition process was actually very simple, with them asking for resumes, a brief interview and to perform two songs.”
Having just finished writing a thesis paper comparing German composer Richard Wagner’s music to that of influential German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Richardson had no problem showing her interest in the country and culture during the audition.
“Probably about a week later, I was notified that I had been accepted into the program,” Richardson said. “It was great and wonderful to be selected, but then the next big question was how was I going to pay for this?”
The base tuition for the program, Richardson said, is $5,000, not including airfare and other fees, which she estimates at $2,000.
After asking around and speaking with some of her classmates, Richardson decided to raise money through gofundme.com, a crowd-funding platform used to raise money for events. Since its creation in 2010, those using the website have raised more than $160 million for personal donation campaigns, charity fundraising campaigns or all-or-nothing campaigns.
In one month, Richardson has managed to raise $500 of the $2,000 she is hoping to get to cover her airfare and other fees for the program.
During her time in Germany in June, Richardson will take vocal lessons from internationally recognized vocalists, attend career development workshops and participate in various networking opportunities.
“The vocal development this program offers to work with someone who is routinely on all the big stages will be an experience in itself,” Richardson said. “The rest gives you a different look at the industry and gives you good experience on how to market yourself, because no one does that for you in this industry.”
Richardson said she hopes attending the program will allow her to continue on the path to one day work in the commercial music industry.
“I would like to see myself either in the arts management area or teaching academically,” Richardson said. “I’d like to stay fairly local, but I’ll go wherever the jobs come open.”
Richardson is the daughter of William and Camella Richardson of Rodney.
Visit gofundme.com/flygabrielletogermany for more information on Richardson’s fundraising campaign.