Jason Steigerwalt '05
Music performance | Germany
His high school choir might have been small, but less than three years after graduating from Susquehanna University, Jason Steigerwalt '05 was singing in Carnegie Hall and drawing raves from The New York Times, which said that Jason and three other soloists "sang with ear-catching beauty and power."
"Reading the review was exhilarating," says Steigerwalt, a native of Palmerton, Pa., who recently graduated from the prestigious Yale University School of Music with a master's degree in early music. "It was the first time my name has been mentioned in a newspaper, and to have it be The New York Times!"
His performance culminated a one-week choral workshop under co-conductor Ton Koopman, an international superstar conductor from the Netherlands who has recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Several months later Steigerwalt soloed again, at the Yale University School of Music's summer music festival in Norfolk, Conn.
Steigerwalt credits much of his early success to his training at Susquehanna, where he says recently retired choral director Cy Stretansky was "a true mentor in many ways. He has such a well-grounded idea of what a choir should be and a very natural, organic way of achieving a quality sound."
He's thankful that Stretansky and vocal professors Nina Tober and Jeffrey Fahnestock helped him find his own voice.
"I came in a very novice singer, and I was able to mature on my own and encouraged to be open-minded and try different things, as opposed to being forced to pursue any one particular style," he says. That diverse training, he says, prepared him well to both enter Temple University's opera program in 2005 and a year later to gain admission to the early music program at Yale's Institute of Sacred Music, which takes only four singers each year.
He served as Susquehanna's assistant choir manager his sophomore year, and was the choir manger his final two undergraduate years. One of his duties was handling logistics for the choir's annual tours, which included trips to Florida and throughout the Northeast, where a memorable concert took place at his Roman Catholic parish church in Palmerton.
Speaking of Susquehanna's choir and its orchestra, in which he played upright bass for a year, Jason says, "There were a lot of different majors, including non-music majors, and we really came together and made some really fine music together."
He and his wife, also a vocalist, freelanced for a year in New York City before moving to Leipzig, Germany, in August 2010 to study and perform. After a brief stint in the U.S. to perform in two festivals in the summer of 2011, Steigerwalt and his wife returned to Germany where they continue to make their living as freelance musicians.
"I would love to have a career as a freelance singer, with enough opportunities over the course of a year to sustain myself by singing,” he said.
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