Voice, Diction & Pedagogy
Coordinator, Voice Area
LINDA MARRA, mezzo-soprano, Central Washington University Emeritus Professor of Music, retired in December, 2010. She taught at Central since 1984 and was the Coordinator of the Voice Area for many years. In 2007 she received the Outstanding Teacher award from the College of Arts and Humanities for her excellence in applied voice and course teaching. Dr. Marra also served as vocal director and coordinator of many opera productions at CWU, including Mozart’s, The Magic Flute, Cosi fan tutte, Don Giovanni, The Impresario, and Puccini’s, Gianni Schicchi. She also produced a number of opera scenes programs. As an active performer of concert, recital and oratorio repertoire she is credited with a list of more than 150 performances.
Dr. Marra was District President of the Inland Empire Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, a position she has held three times, and she also served as District Governor. She hosted several NATS Student Auditions and a NATS Summer Intern Program. Her students did consistently well at competitions and went on to performing and teaching careers and/or further graduate studies. She represented Central Washington at the International Congress of Teachers of Singing in Vancouver, British Columbia and attended numerous other national and international conferences over the years. In January 2009 she was a presenter at the 4th Annual Physiology and Acoustics of Singing Conference in San Antonio. Also in 2009, she presented a lecture/recital of suffragist songs in celebration of the Washington State Women's Suffrage Centennial, first at the opening of the celebration at the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery and then at a celebration of women in county government at the Hal Holmes Center in Ellensburg.
Dr. Marra received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado (1984) where she studied with celebrated teacher, Barbara Doscher. She also holds the Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan (1972). There she studied voice with Eva Likova and sang opera roles under conductor, Josef Blatt and director, Ralph Herbert. Her BA in Music Education is from Queens College in New York City (Feb. 1966) Her early voice teachers were Cesare Longo and Maria Winkler. She also sang at Carnegie Hall in the All-City High School Chorus of New York City for two years under Peter J. Wilhousky. At the age of 15, she sang on a concert for Fordham University Radio. She held a coveted position as an usherette for the New York Philharmonic during her undergraduate student days. There she met her ex-husband, David F. Bernstein, son of Joan Estelle Levy, a former dancer of the Jose Limon Dance Company.
Linda Marra started her teaching career as a New York City public school vocal music teacher, and she also taught in the Willow Run school district in Michigan. She began her college teaching career at Western State College of Colorado. There she directed operas and musicals for nine years and taught voice and voice-related courses. While in Colorado she performed for four summers with the Colorado Opera Festival in Colorado Springs and appeared in nine different operas covering major roles under New York City and Metropolitan Opera lead singers. There she also had the opportunity to sing Mahler’s Kindertoten Lieder for a rehearsal of the dance studio of Hanya Holm who was in residence at Colorado College. She has fond memories of Hanya Holm’s encouraging support of singers as a director of opera. Marra also performed at the Aspen Music Festival for three summers. She sang with the select Aspen Chamber choir under John Nelson and Fiora Contino. Her love for hiking and the outdoors came as a result of her experiences in Aspen. In Michigan she was President of the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, and she was a professional choir singer for the Kirk in the Hills cathedral in Bloomfield Hills. She also performed as a soloist for the finale of Bernstein’s Candide featuring Barbara Cook at a University of Michigan Choral Union concert.
Linda Marra has sung for master classes of Elly Ameling, Max Von Egmont, Adele Addison, Thomas Paul and Paul Sperry, and she attended a summer workshop on vocal pedagogy with Richard Miller. She also studied in Aspen one summer with Leslie Guinn. That summer (1980) she performed a new work on the Aspen Composers concert.
She was a soloist at the Chelan Bach Feste and the University of Washington International Conference on Women in Music, and a guest recitalist at the University of Idaho, Whitman College, Yakima Valley Community College, Shoreline Community College, Walla Walla College and Western State College. She also performed as soloist with all the CWU Ensembles over the years, including a special performance with the Wind ensemble at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima, Washington. She was alto soloist for a Yakima Symphony Chorus and Orchestra performance of Handel’s, Messiah at the Seasons Performing Center in Yakima. She also performed recitals for the St. Michael’s Church concert series in Yakima and for the Yakima Ladies Musical Club.
Dr. Marra performed a solo faculty recital every year for 25 years at CWU, often performing them off campus as well. She regularly performed on CWU Faculty concerts, and served as coordinator for a number of concerts. In 2006, she was alto soloist for the CWU Chorus and Orchestra performance of Szymanowski’s, Stabat Mater. In 2007, she was a soloist for the Beethoven Choral Fantasy with the CWU Orchestra and Chorus.
Dr. Marra has often been in demand as a presenter, an adjudicator and a clinician. She has been the vocal judge for the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions more than once, the Performing Arts Festival of the Eastside in Bellevue, WA, Artist Trust of Seattle, Washington State Solo Competition (numerous years) and the King County and the Wenatchee State Solo Qualifying Competitions. She was a presenter at a NATS Summer Intern Program and at a regional NATS Meeting. She also served as secretary for the Ellensburg Chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs. Her music honorary society affiliations include, Pi Kappa Lambda and Delta Omicron. She also served as President of the CWU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the academic honor society. Marra, being of Greek and Italian parentage, was also a member of Sigma Epsilon Phi, a sorority/fraternity of students of Greek parentage at Queens College in New York. The national group held conventions fostering the appreciation of Greek culture, music, and food. Marra also traveled with her mother to Greece where she sang with her mother for the Archbishop of Thessaloniki.
Dr. Marra has had notable experience in administration at CWU. From 1986-1988 she served as Director of the prestigious CWU William O. Douglas Honors College, and she served as Assistant Chair of the Department of Music from 1991-1994. In 1990 she was on the CWU Team for the Lilly Foundation Workshop on the Liberal Arts. Dr. Marra attended the Bryn Mawr Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration in 1993 on a CWU institutional grant. She also served on a team of professors and administrators who participated in a two-week workshop on Cultural Pluralism at Evergreen State College. In 1994 she was one of the top three candidates for the position of Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at CWU. She also served as the CWU Institutional Representative to the American Council on Education program to help further women in higher education administration. She served on the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate Code Committee, the General Education Committee and numerous other university and departmental committees. In the area of public service, she served as a member of the City of Ellensburg Arts Commission and the Northwest Public Radio Community Advisory Board. She chaired the University Art Selection and Permanent Collection Committee from 2005-2008. Under her leadership a complete inventory of all art on the CWU campus was finalized.
Her teaching assignments have included, Studio Voice, Opera Production, Opera Workshop, Pedagogy, Vocal Literature, Diction in Foreign Languages for Singers, Opera History, Seminar in American Musical Theatre, History of the Vocal Art, Class Voice, and a short course in Oratorio. She also taught Music Methods for Classroom Teachers at CWU and in Colorado and Introduction to Music and Fundamentals of Music in Colorado along with voice and opera courses.
Dr. Marra has been uniquely versatile in her career, and she has shown a great interest in continued learning. In her first year at CWU she took three quarters of Japanese for credit to be able to sing in that language. Her background also includes language work in Spanish, French, German and Italian with some additional pronunciation study for singing in Russian, Latin, Greek, Swedish and Portuguese and Polish. She has long been a champion of contemporary music, and has performed a number of premiers of new works. She has also performed numerous important twentieth century works, including Schoenberg's, Pierrot Lunaire and George Crumb's, Night of the Four Moons among others.