On the Move, Lindsay Kesselman
College of Music alumna charts path as professional soprano.
Although musical conservatories, composers, and conductors increasingly seek her out, Lindsay Kesselman never overlooks the people and places that set her on her path to success.
Since graduating from the MSU College of Music in 2006, the professional soprano and advocate for contemporary music has frequently visited campus to perform with MSU ensembles and talk about life as a professional musician, most recently through the College’s Running Start program.
“I am so grateful for the variety of experiences I had here,” says Kesselman. “I had the opportunity to sing with so many groups and ensembles, and to take on leadership roles that helped shaped who I am as a musician.”
Raised in a musical family in the Chicago suburbs, Kesselman came to MSU for a dual major in music education and voice performance. She originally had her sights set on being a choral director, but fell in love with performance the longer she attended MSU. She sang in the University Chorale, Women’s Chamber Ensemble, and State Singers, and performed with Musique 21. She also took to the stage through the MSU Opera Theatre, singing roles in Cosi fan tutte, Nine, and A Rake’s Progress.
“My life took a different turn because of all the wonderful opportunities I had at MSU,” says Kesselman. “It made me decide to perform and focus more intensively on my singing career.”
After graduating from MSU, Kesselman went on to earn her master’s degree from Rice University, and embarked on a journey that has led to recent tours with the Philip Glass ensemble for a production of Einstein on the Beach, and to an upcoming premiere of a new opera by Louis Andriessen. All along, she’s appeared with several orchestras across the U.S., and has captured the imagination of contemporary composers like John Mackey who is composing a work for her to premier next season.
“Lindsay was always one of the most hard-working students I've ever taught. No music was too hard or challenging for her, and she blossomed with each new challenge,” says Melanie Helton, professor of voice and director of the MSU Opera Theatre. “She has taken all of her abilities and created a successful career -- one that is uniquely hers.”
Kesselman’s passion for performing is equaled only by her love of contemporary and chamber music. She’s the resident soprano for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and is a founding member of two ensembles that focus on contemporary music and cross-disciplinary collaborations. To her delight, some of her experiences have resulted in collaborations with MSU faculty and alumni, including last February when she sang as a soloist in the MSU Wind Symphony’s landmark performance at Carnegie Hall.
“I’m so happy to still be in touch with so many people I went to school with,” says Kesselman. “I like to tell students to recognize that the relationships they develop at MSU have the opportunity to last beyond college and may even lead to wonderful future collaborations.”