Beyond Her Years

Oberlin soprano Kylie Kreucher’s experience at the Music Academy of the West

October 4, 2022

Joshua Reinier

Kylie Kreucher performs with a pianist
Photo credit: Courtesy of Music Academy of the West

Kylie Kreucher reflects on the confidence she gained this summer.

The Music Academy of the West has been around since 1947, and it's rare to see someone gracing its prestigious stage at the mere age of 21. This summer, Oberlin senior Kylie Kreucher did just that, spending a transformative eight weeks as the youngest vocal fellow at this year's Music Academy. One of the nation's preeminent summer schools and festivals for classical music, the Academy takes place in Santa Barbara, California. Kylie was thrown right in, singing alongside the other 19 vocal fellows, who were mostly Master's and doctoral students.

Kreucher remembers, "The opening night I was so nervous. I knew I was the youngest and was so scared that I would hear all these people and think, 'I don't belong here.'" But the butterflies quickly faded. "When I got onstage, I didn't feel nervous. I felt like, 'Yes I’m here and I can do this and I belong here.' That was a very special moment for me."

Kreucher’s strong start was followed by a duo with Sasha Cook—a mezzo at the Met—in a special event for the Academy's sponsors. She continued with a role in the summer opera, Eugene Onegin, by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, as well as a collaborative performance with a piano fellow in the Academy's Marilyn Horne art song competition. Kreucher shares, "I made so many incredible friendships: the level was so high, but there wasn’t any competitiveness in the air. Everyone was super supportive of each other."

Kreucher laughs with Katherine Jolly during a lesson
Kreucher in a lesson with Katherine Jolly

Kreucher also owes much to the support of her studio teacher, Katherine Jolly, who received Oberlin Conservatory's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2021. "Receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award is highly affirming," says Jolly. "I am inspired every day by my students' talent, dedication, passion, and their willingness to embrace the process of learning how to sing, which requires tremendous vulnerability. I'm honored to be a part of their path." In particular, Jolly lauds her student: "Working with Kylie over the past three years has been a great joy. She is innately musical, linguistically flexible, intellectually curious, has an incredible work ethic, and she is a generous spirit."

On Kreucher's part, the success of the academy has increased both her skill and her confidence. She reflects, "I thought about this a lot this summer: I love how “new” singing feels for me each time, each performance. I love the adrenaline. It never gets old, it’s always exciting, and it’s always a little bit scary, but that keeps me invested in it. Getting the opportunity to share music and messages with all sorts of people is so special."

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