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First year dramatic performance major Isaac Hickox-Young.

CCM Masters Student Simon Barrad Receives Fulbright Arts Grant

CCM DMA candidate Fotina Naumenko.

Graduating masters degree student Simon Barrad will be heading to Finland this fall thanks to a Fulbright Arts Grant. Once there, he will study, teach and perform at the Metropolia University and Sibelius Academy in the city of Helsinki. The goal of his project is to use Finnish and American song as a bridge for cultural exchange.

“The basis of my project is organizing and performing in recitals of Finnish and American song with Finnish students who I meet,” says Barrad. “It is my intention to promote the performance of American music in Helsinki as well as learn Finnish music to share back in the United States when I return. The cultural exchange happens in the rehearsal process, the performance for the community, and the teaching of American culture through art song and poetry. I also plan to commission and premiere a couple of pieces written for me by American composers - one of whom lives in Helsinki.”

Barrad will work on his project at both the Sibelius Academy and the Metropolia University, both of which are located in city of Helsinki. As the state capital and cultural capital of Finland, Helsinki will serve as a perfect setting for Barrad’s work. “I wanted to be in the place where I would find the best singers and the most interesting work happening in the arts,” he explains.

Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Barrad’s upcoming journey to Finland will also provide him with an opportunity to retrace his genealogical roots. “I have never been to Finland but I do have distant cousins there with whom I have been in contact for several years,” he says.

Simon Barrad in CCM's production of 'Owen Wingrave.'

Simon Barrad in CCM's production of 'Owen Wingrave.'

Last month, Barrad sang the role of Guglielmo in CCM’s acclaimed production of Così fan tutte. He also sang the title role in CCM’s production of Benjamin Britten’s rarely-seen opera Owen Wingrave. During his time at CCM, he also sang the role of Mandeville in Cincinnati Opera’s production of Silent Night.

Barrad’s accomplishments come as no surprise to CCM Professor of Voice Kenneth Shaw. “Simon is an accomplished lyric baritone, with an exceptional instinct for marrying textual depth to musical nuance. He relishes every aspect of culture, art and history as they inform his singing and research,” says Shaw. “Simon has found a great enthusiasm for the incredible wealth and diversity of Finnish art song. While he is in Helsinki, he is committed to bringing this largely under-represented repertoire into the regular cannon for American classical singers. In turn, he will have the opportunity to extend to Finnish students a broader knowledge of American art song.”

Barrad departs for Helsinki on August 17, the same day that his summer fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center ends. Although he has traveled abroad on choir tours during high school and his undergraduate studies, this will be his first time traveling to Scandinavia. “I’m excited about learning from and collaborating with a new group of musicians,” he says. “Also, exploring a unique culture that, thus far, I have only learned about in books and recordings. I would also say that I am most nervous about that same prospect. Everything will be new but fortunately music has a tendency to keep me grounded.”

After completing his Fulbright grant, Barrad plans to return to the US to work as a freelance singer, auditioning for opera companies and promoting Finnish and American song.

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CCM students interested in applying for Fulbright grants or other similarly prestigious scholarships and awards can find resources and assistance for doing so in UC’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.

Get to know all of UC’s 2014-15 Fulbright Award Recipients by visiting uc.edu/nca/award-winners.

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