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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Suzanne Kompass

Pictured Above: Suzanne Kompass and Violet the Koala
Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Kompass
Pictured Above: Suzanne Kompass and Violet the Koala Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Kompass

Professor Suzanne Kompass is an assistant professor of practice and Artist in Residence at Moravian University. She graduated from Westminster Choir College at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, from their Voice Performance Program.

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

I grew up in a very musical family. My mother, Marguerite, received her Music Education Certification from Moravian College as a mature student when I was a little girl. She was a fabulous organist in the Lehigh Valley. I grew up singing in our church choirs; in fact, my Mother created a “cherub choir” when I was three years old because I was constantly singing and too young for the junior choir!

I had always enjoyed singing and was in County, District and Regional Choruses and active in Choir and Band as a flute player. Music was just the norm for my life. I loved performing, but wasn’t sure if I was professional material. In fact, I was planning to do a Business/Public Relations degree as I love writing, languages, and marketing. 

This kept tugging at my heart, and in the summer, before I was set to start a different major, I auditioned at Westminster Choir College. I was accepted to their Voice Performance Program for the Fall semester. I realized my calling as a teacher when I became aware that my fascination and quest to understand how people speak/sing /communicate became my passion as well.

What does your position usually entail? What department do you work in?

My area of specialty is all things Voice. I teach a Voice Technique class called “Foundation of Beginning Vocal Techniques,” and I am the director of the Opera and Cabaret Ensemble.

I also have a large studio of private vocal students in various majors and secondary lessons, including some from the Speech Therapy Discipline and the Moravian University Music Institute.

What are some of the unique challenges that come with your position?

I have many hours of one-on-one lessons. In some ways, it is like preparing a whole course for each student. Teaching voice is “full on” every minute of the lesson … Constantly evaluating how a student is processing the information when it is ostensibly an intangible instrument which is housed in a unique person has its challenges. Muscle memory and trust in the environment to release sound must be established, with the desired outcome being confidence and enjoyment of the voice, as communication is fundamental to our being.

What job would you have if you couldn’t be a professor, regardless of salary and job outcome? Why?

I have loved communication and foreign languages my entire life. I love being of service and helping people. My students sometimes think I’m psychic, but it’s just that I have been blessed with a keen sense of how people feel, more empathic than psychic. I am a bit of a fixer …

I think Marketing/Advertising would be right up my alley! I love people, and most times, it’s difficult to market ourselves. It’s important for someone to understand the industry in every capacity and create magic.

What made you decide to work at Moravian?

Moravian is in my DNA. I grew up in the Lehigh Valley, and many of my family members have attended Moravian. My uncle, stepfather, stepbrother, and my mother were a part of my upbringing in the Moravian hound heritage. Even Vespers was a part of my life as far back as I can remember.

After living internationally in Canada and Australia, I returned back to the USA to take care of my ailing stepfather, as my mother sadly passed away in 1991. I was thrilled to become part of the music faculty in 2011 and feel blessed to have come full circle and be a part of a heritage and history so close to my heart. I feel my mother very close in spirit through my teaching here.

What is your biggest student pet peeve?

I think it is important for our students to understand the history and legacy of our institution and create an ongoing legacy for the future.  In general, I would like to see more compassion, respect, curiosity, wonder, and commitment to excellence through kindness and inspiration. There is a wealth of knowledge here … have a thirst for it and go beyond what is “required.”  

What do you do in your free time or hobbies?

I love being near the ocean and walking in the surf. I also love writing, learning music,  swimming, cooking, and experiencing cultures and cuisines. I collect hot sauces and like to go to festivals, Celtic Highland Games, and Bagpipes! On top of that, I collect angels, love making candles, and shopping for unique things that I know will become treasures, paintings, crafts, clothing, and jewelry.

What’s an interesting fact about yourself that most people don’t know about you?

I was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, but I am also a Canadian Citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, where I lived and sang in the Sydney Opera House and in concert halls throughout the country. I was part of the creation of the music program at the University of Sunshine Coast/Australia.  A koala named Violet is a sweet soul who I have enjoyed visiting and bonding with at the Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane.

I taught at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario whilst maintaining a hectic concert career throughout Canada along with my private studio in Toronto. I have been an “extra” singer in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight with Geena Davis and sung in many commercials.

I was also the cantor at All Saints’ RC Church in Canada for over 25 years and had an award-winning children’s choir.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A fun fact … I recorded a Christmas album many years ago when I was living in Toronto with the famed Canadian jazz composer, pianist and vibraphonist Hagood Hardy.  It became a platinum record, which I treasure. When Hagood called to tell me about the platinum record, I thought gold was better … I had no idea what platinum was! I remain humbled and amazed at events in my career, both as a performer and through the success of my students.

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