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22 UOFLMAGAZINE.COM T his fall, about a dozen students from the School of Music got the opportunity to take a voice masterclass with Jake Heggie, one of America's most successful, beloved and produced composers. Heggie was in town for Kentucky Opera's premiere of his opera "Dead Man Walking," when Emily Albrink, an assistant professor of voice, who played a leading role in the produc- tion, asked if he'd be willing to coach some of Uof L's students. Albrink and Heggie have been friends for the last decade. They met at a singing program in California, hit it off and have worked together on several productions since. "He's an amazing person, an incred- ible spirit. He's kind and thoughtful and generous, and he makes you feel like you're the most important person in the room, which says a lot for some- one who has had such an incredible career," Albrink said. Albrink said she's learned so much from the man who has composed this century's most recognizable operas, such as "Moby-Dick" and "It's a Wonderful Life." "He's able to go very deep into what the piece is about and can usually talk with the students in a way that reso- nates with them and gets at the heart of the emotion of the piece," she said. "He's also able to get them to be very vulnerable, which can be hard to do." Haley DeWitt, a voice graduate student, got a taste of that teaching philosophy as she performed a song from Heggie's "At the Statue of Venus." He led her through several exercises to deepen her emotional connection with the song. "What's the difference at the end than at the beginning?" he asked. "With any piece you do, there needs to be some reason for singing it. Where is it taking us? Where does it start and where does it end? ... That's the journey of the song." The generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Luis E. Prada made the master- classes possible. LEARNING FROM THE OPERA MASTER Haley DeWitt and Jake Heggie after DeWitt's performance of Heggie's "At the Statue of Venus." An Instagram post from Gibson's account. When Brandeis School of Law student Melissa Gibson started her Instagram account three years ago, she was fig- uring out her own body image. Now, with nearly 230,000 follow- ers, Gibson is using the platform to spread a message of body positivity and spark conversations about mar- ginalization and oppression. "It's beyond how I feel about myself and more about how people are treated based on what their body looks like," she said. Gibson, who holds a master's degree in women's and gender stud- ies from the University of Louisville, uses her Instagram account to share scenes from her life that she trans- lates into activism. One recent post, a photo of Gibson and her boyfriend, generated hundreds of comments and was covered in People magazine. Many of the comments were negative and stated that Gibson is too heavy to be with her boyfriend. "Posting pictures of myself is con- troversial, and the fact that it is controversial is ridiculous," Gibson said. While she says that reading and responding to comments about her life, relationship and weight can be "emotionally exhausting," Gibson is committed to her work as a body pos- itive activist. She says she has learned from the body positive com- munity to see beyond her own point of view while also respecting her own experiences. As for her law school studies, Gibson is interested in under- standing the ways that marginalization affects people. "I want to see how that impacts people and creates injustice. We can use law for good or for evil," she said. "Anywhere that I end up as a law- yer, I'll be able to apply my previous research." Law student turns body positive activist @yourstruelymelly Music students study voice techniques from elite composer

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