Arts & Life, Features

CSULB welcomes new Director of Vocal Studies

Students and faculty at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music welcomed new Director of Vocal Studies, Alexander Hahn, to Long Beach State this past week. 

Taking up the position previously held by current Director of Choral Studies, Jonathan Talberg, Hahn will continue to oversee students and faculty within the vocal, choral and opera programs at CSULB. 

“My job is to not just continue that [reputation], but to build upon it,” said Hahn as he discussed the music department at CSULB.

His wife Jennifer Sung, a fellow opera singer and new professor in voice at CSULB, will combine their experience to teach students vocal, choral and opera studies. 

A New York native, Hahn began his journey into opera at 17 years old after transferring to the Mannes School of Music in New York. There, Hahn continued his education before beginning his career as an opera singer.

“It’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in the performing arts,” Hahn said. 

With nearly 10 years of experience as an opera singer and performer, Hahn has performed in works such as “Le Nozze di Figaro” with the Bronx Opera, “Hamlet” with Opera Ithaca, “Rigoletto” with the Opera Theater of Connecticut, “Carmen” with the New Rochelle Opera and bass-baritone soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with EOS Orchestra of Beijing. 

He was a former Paris Opera Competition grand finalist, was among Career Bridges Organization 2017 winners, was a finalist in the 2017 Giulio Gari Competition for vocals and was a winner of the David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize for outstanding singer at the Yale School of Music.

For Hahn, his path as an instructor in music was always on his mind, having earned his masters from Yale School of Music and his Ph.D from Stony Brook University. His first job as a professor was at Grand Valley State University a year ago before coming to CSULB.

“I was teaching there in western Michigan, but that was never going to be a long term position,” Hahn said. “It was more, for me, a stepping stone into what a full-time professor-ship really feels like and entails.”

Hahn would later have the opportunity to progress as an educator, as multiple institutions offered him a position at their respective schools. Among the offers was one from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music as Director of Vocal Studies.

“It’s where I want to be,” Hahn said, “It’s why I’m here.”

He noted the friendliness of faculty and students as a big factor, as well as the diversity and enthusiasm of the campus. Hahn said since arriving on campus, his colleagues have embraced his arrival.

“I feel welcomed here, not just by my colleagues, but also by the students,” Hahn said, who expressed how big of a difference feeling welcomed at a new job makes. 

As for his plans for the students of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Hahn wants to prepare his students for a career within the performing arts. Hahn said that the performing arts are constantly changing and as such students must be prepared for those changes. 

Hahn aspires to teach students important traits like professionalism and attitude because he said that a successful career in the performing arts relies on more than just talent.

“The fact of the matter is, no one wants to work with you if you’re unpleasant,” Hahn said. “I try to instill in my studio students to come to class every day prepared and with a good attitude.”  

Hahn said that students who refine these characteristics are able to better adapt to a career in the performing arts. From Hahn’s own experience, he said the field evolves every 10 to 15 years. 

“What I want to bring specifically is a way for the students to connect to what a 21st-century professional career looks like,” Hahn said.

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