Graduate students Byron Mayes (baritone) and Naomi Merer (soprano) in a scene from UCSB Opera Theatre's February 2018 production of W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Photo by Matt Perko.
The UC Santa Barbara Voice Program prepares some of the brightest young stars of today for vibrant careers as performers and educators. Students enrolled in the UCSB Voice Program benefit from small studio sizes, frequent one-on-one instruction, and professional performance opportunities with institutions such as Opera Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. With the expert guidance of internationally renowned faculty members Dr. John Ballerino, Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, Professor Benjamin Brecher, and Dr. Linda Di Fiore, students of the program have won prestigious competitions and roles with major opera companies around the world, as well as faculty positions at some of the country’s leading universities.
The Voice Program is committed to providing excellence in vocal training at the undergraduate and graduate levels, offering BA, BM, MM, DMA, and a combined MM/DMA degree in vocal performance. Vocal students have opportunities to perform as soloists, in choral, early music, and contemporary music ensembles. Further, the UCSB Opera Theatre is offered each year: one fully-staged opera, with orchestra and double student casting and an Opera Workshop is offered in the alternate quarters. Sound vocal technique is taught as the basis for the study of repertoire and languages, and literary and musical genres, such as opera, art song, and oratorio. Coupled with instruction, actual performing experience is meant to enable students to enter the profession.
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Arts (BA) with an emphasis in Music Studies and Bachelor of Music (BM)
Learn more about the BA with an emphasis in Music Studies and the BM degrees in the Music Department, Undergraduate Program section of UCSB's General Catalog.
Graduate - Master of Music (MM), Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA), and combined Master of Music/Doctor of Musical Arts (MM/DMA)
Learn more about the MM, DMA, and the combined MM/DMA Performance degrees in the Music Department, Graduate Program section of UCSB's General Catalog.
Isabel Bayrakdarian | Associate Professor, Soprano
Benjamin Brecher | Professor, Tenor (Voice Program Area Head)
John Ballerino | Continuing Lecturer, Vocal Coach
First Place, UCSB Opera Theatre's production of Joel Feigin's Twelfth Night, National Opera Association Competition (2015)
Vocal Competitions Won/Placed:
Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation
- First Place, $5,000 (two winners)
- Second Place, $4,000
- Third Place, $3,000
- Honorable Mention (2) $500
Gwendolyn Roberts Song Competition, LA-NATS, $2,000
California Women’s Chorus Competition
- First Place, $2,000
- Second Place, $2,000
Finalist, Meistersinger Competition, Graz, Austria
Numerous LA-NATS winners
Opera Santa Barbara Initiative:
Graduate students and seniors involved in professional productions
- 14 UCSB Voice Program students in the 2015 productions, with 12 roles cast from UCSB Voice Program students
Young Artist Programs:
Mosher Young Artist, Opera Santa Barbara
Young Artist, Kansas City Lyric Opera
Chautauqua Institute Apprentice Artist
Central City Apprentice Artist Program
Amalfi Coast Music Festival Program (leading roles; scholarships)
American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria (scholarships; performances with AIMS orchestra)
Songfest at Colburn (full tuition scholarships)
Lyric Opera Weimar Summer Program
First Alternates—Merola, Aspen, Santa Fe, Chautauqua
Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI)
Acceptances into Graduate Schools:
University of Missouri—Kansas City Conservatory
Florida State University
University of Minnesota