News Column

Opera performer to give singing lessons at Schuylkill County Council of the Arts

July 3, 2014

By Stephen J. Pytak, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

July 03--Tamara Wapinsky Mancini, Pottsville, an opera singer who has performed on international stages, will be giving singing lessons at Schuylkill County Council of the Arts starting this month.

She was endorsed by Cora Gamelin-Osenbach, Orwigsburg, an accomplished vocalist who has taught in the area for more than 30 years. Gamelin-Osenbach said Wednesday she's planning to retire in May 2016 and recommended her students continue their studies with Mancini.

"I am retiring from teaching in May of 2016, and when Tammy approached me about teaching in the area, we met for several hours and I asked her to continue my studio, The Studio for Vocal Excellence, and its history of beautiful, free singing. I have every confidence as I retire that Tammy will carry on a great tradition in this area," Gamelin-Osenbach, 64, said Wednesday.

"It was very important to me that she was OK with my wanting to teach in the area. She said that she was happy that I was interested in teaching, and we had a few meetings to discuss things. Eventually, when she does retire, we will be teaching from a similar mode and style and if her students would choose to, they could continue their studies with me, knowing that they would be continuing on the same path and style of singing," Mancini, 37, said Monday.

Mancini has rented office space on the second floor of the SCCA headquarters, 1440 Mahantongo St., Pottsville.

"She will be teaching in the same studio where she began lessons with me," Gamelin-Osenbach said.

"I believe that I began my studies with Cora my sophomore year of high school in 1992 through my senior year of high school in 1995. I had weekly lessons at the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts in the same room that I am currently teaching in. It has sort of come full circle," Mancini said Monday.

"I taught there for 18 years, from 1983 to 2000," Gamelin-Osenbach said.

SCCA hasn't had a vocal instructor renting space at its headquarters since then, Sandra Coyle, SCCA executive director, said Wednesday.

"We do have vocal classes in summer camps now and children's choirs practice here but not somebody renting office space," Coyle said.

And she was excited that Mancini was going to be that teacher.

Mancini has come a long way. Many remember her singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" traditionally at local and state basketball games in the 1990s. In January 2012, she enjoyed a career high, playing the title character in the opera "Turandot" at one of the most well-known opera venues in Italy, Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

"She's wonderful. She has a beautiful voice," Coyle said.

Born in Saint Clair, Oct. 18, 1976, Mancini moved to Pottsville when she was 10.

Mancini graduated from Pottsville Area High School in 1995, then earned a bachelor degree in music with a concentration in voice in 2000 and a graduate performance degree in opera from Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University, in 2002. In 2005, she received a diploma in vocal studies from Indiana University School of Music. In 2007, she studied professional voice and opera at Mannes Conservatory The New School for Music.

People interested in learning more about Mancini's classes can call SCCA at 570-622-2788.

"As for my students, I welcome all from beginners to advanced. My goal is get the students to understand how the voice works and how they can use it optimally. Technique is essential, and we focus on a lot of exercises and then we apply them to music. Students are exposed to multiple genres of music. At the moment, I have a few students that have a great deal of talent. We are having fun and making progress at our weekly sessions," Mancini said.

Meanwhile, Mancini is still an active performer.

"My most immediate performance will be in August in Seattle. I have been one of the eight chosen to participate in Seattle Opera's International Wagner Competition. I will be in Seattle for a week rehearsing and preparing for the competition. I am very excited and looking forward to this," Mancini said.

Born in Merrimac, Massachusetts, April 12, 1950, Gamelin-Osenbach graduated from Pentucket Regional High School, West Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1968. In 1973, she graduated with a bachelor of music in performance from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and studied with James W. Carson in New York City for "15 to 20 years."

Gamelin-Osenbach has been the leading soprano with OperaWorks Inc. and has performed many recitals throughout Schuylkill County, Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.

She's been giving private lessons for more than 30 years, starting in Pottsville in 1980. Since 2000, she's called her studio The Studio for Vocal Excellence. She is also the director of music and organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, Pottsville, and coordinates its concert series.

Gamelin-Osenbach said she will be singing at a special event 4 p.m.Nov. 9 at Trinity Episcopal Church, accompanied by Catherine Joy Moon, Liverpool, England.


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