Alumni Profile: John Concepcion
John Concepcion, tenor, has been singing professionally since 1986, following his undergraduate degree. In the early 2000s he began teaching voice and realized he needed to add to his singing education to be an effective teacher and coach for other singers. As he was looking at master’s programs in the Chicago area, John was drawn to North Park’s master of music in vocal performance degree because it offered a close-knit community with significant one-on-one time with colleagues and professors, as well as a flexible schedule that allowed him to maintain his full-time career singing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago
and teaching voice. “After auditioning and talking with faculty, it was clear it would be a good fit for me,” John says.
John completed his MMVP from North Park in 2006, one of the first graduates of the program. “It was just great,” he says of his experience as a whole. One major highlight was the opportunity to learn from professional singers working in Chicago, some of whom John had been singing with for several years. “I was able to work with Kip Bridges, who I’ve always admired as a colleague in Chicago music,” he says. “Having him as a teacher was exciting.” He adds that working with top-notch faculty who are also singers, directors, and conductors working professionally is an invaluable experience as a student. “North Park is a great training ground for learning good skills at the next level up from undergraduate work.”
As a professional singer with more than 15 years of experience, John was surprised at how much he learned in some unexpected areas. “I knew what I was doing, but I couldn’t explain it,” he says. “Karen Bauer sort of changed my life, vocally. Having her expertise helped me to open up and develop my voice in a way I had not expected,” John says. “I was able to glean really good experience and knowledge about what my voice needs to continue singing and developing my skill.”
John also had the opportunity to expand his repertoire and learn with the help of supportive teachers and directors. “We did opera scenes in the first year of the program, which was a good opportunity to try my hand at scenes I would not normally have been cast in,” he says. “In the second year, we did the opera Gianni Schicci, which was something I’d always wanted to do.”
Looking back at his MMVP experience, John encourages singers to consider the many things North Park’s program has to offer, especially its program size. “It’s not too big that you’ll feel like you’ll get lost, and it’s small enough to feel like you are making a contribution,” he says. He also points out that he and the other MMVP students got significant stage time in operas, recitals, concerts, and other performances.
Since completing his master of music in vocal performance degree, John has continued to sing full-time with the Lyric Opera, and has also started the Opera Up Close program at Governors State University’s Center for Performing Arts.