Christopher Besch joins UofM School of Music

When it comes to teaching voice to a myriad of undergraduate and graduate students, Christopher Besch likes to employ an individualized approach.

“I like to meet my students where they are and help them gain the skills they need to achieve their educational goals,” Besch said. “A lot of students come into college with very different  backgrounds in music: some want to be opera singers, mariachi band members, or pop singers. When I’m teaching voice, I like to keep that in mind when it comes to each of my students.”

Besch will join the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music this fall as visiting assistant professor of voice.

“It is a privilege to welcome Christopher Besch to the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music as a Visiting Professor of Voice,” said Dr. Kevin Sanders, Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. “He is a brilliant teacher and performer whose work encompasses an impressive range of styles and genres. We are very excited to have him on the faculty this fall.”

Besch first fell in love with music during his high school years, where he cut his teeth as a performer in the seemingly antithetical roles of a guitar player in a metal band and singer in his grandmother’s church choir. In college, he began to shift his focus to opera singing.

“The thing I love most about opera and classical singing is the focus on the marriage of text and music,” he said. “In this artform, we’re given a space to explore and feel emotions not only through the eyes of the poet and composer, but through those of the performer as well.”

Dr. Besch has been lauded for his “lively stage presence” in repertoire that encompasses over 70 major works, with past performances in seven countries on three continents with such conductors as Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, and Jeffrey Thomas. His teaching background includes time as a lecturer in voice at University of Texas at San Antonio, TX, where he offered private voice lessons to music education and performance majors in a variety of genres including classical, musical theater, bolero, and jazz.

“My favorite performances have an element of audience engagement going on,” he said. “This usually involves pre-concert lectures or post-concert talkbacks. There’s so much more to unpack from these works than you can get from sitting in a theater for three hours. Newer works that explore social issues like women’s rights or racial and socioeconomic topics particularly benefit from this approach because the audience has an idea of what to expect. This type of engagement opens a two-way conversation between the audience and performers that gives the audience insight into the performative decisions we’ve made but also helps us to learn about what is and isn’t working in the seats. “

He enters the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music with a goal to maintain his own high standards, while keeping in mind each student’s individual needs, making for a highly personalized pedagogy to keep the class engaged.

“I loved getting to meet the faculty and students. I immediately knew that I’d found the right job,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be joining the University of Memphis this fall.”

Besch earned his Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, in 2009 and his Master of Music in vocal performance from Rice University – Shepherd School of Music in Houston, TX, in 2011. Additionally, he recently earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts in vocal performance from Rice University – Shepherd School of Music in Houston, TX, in the spring of 2021.

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