Friday, April 25th, 2014
Wendi Dicken began her performance career at the age of four in the role of Michael Darling in Peter Pan. Soon after, she performed as Gretel in the Sound of Music, solidifying what has become a lifelong love of musical theater and opera. When she was 13, Wendi founded the Heritage Community Theater Program as a church outreach to pre-teens and teens. For ten years, HCT performed three shows each summer, the theater coming to a close when Wendi graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a master’s degree in Opera. At Miami, she studied with Joan Marie Moynagh and Russell Hosler. With Dr. Hosler, Wendi and a group of friends restored the Miami University Opera Ensemble, which has gone on to win international acclaim.
Privileged to perform around the globe, she performed with Boris Goldovsky’s Young Artists Opera Theatre in New York, coached with Stanley Sontag at the NY Metropolitan Opera, and studied with Philon Ktsanis, and was featured in concerts in seven European countries. After auditioning against 3,000 other young ladies, Wendi won a spot as a member of the Bigfork Playhouse in Montana (the only true repertory theater in the country at that time). At the age of 24, she went on to develop the vocal music program at the Flathead Valley Community College in Montana, where she also helped to bring about the first opera ever performed in that region (Amahl and the night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti). Along with these accomplishments, Wendi directed a season of the renowned Flathead Valley Children’s Theater, and served as rehearsal conductor for the Glacier Orchestra and Chorale.
Always seeking musical knowledge, Wendi was not content to simply perform in the theater. From the age of six, she studied piano with Margaret Styling, was accepted to study flute at the Cincinnati Conservatory (age 11) with Maestro Robert Cavally and his wife, and began vocal coaching in opera (age 13) with Mr. Bard Suverkrop. In high school, Wendi was voted most talented because of her work in band, choir and theater. She and a friend requested the addition of a music theory class to the curriculum of Mt. Healthy High School. The request was granted, expanding and already successful music program.
From that class grew an appreciation for theory and composition, leading to further study with Winfred Cummings (protege of Walter Piston [Harmony] of the Hindemeth School of Music). Wendi numbers among her compositions a piano concerto, several smaller piano works, a choral arrangement that has been performed several times at the pre-game festivities for the St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball games, six patriotic works commissioned for a choral performance at the Lake St. Louis, Missouri Memorial Day Celebration, and several works for children’s choir, including “My Mother’s Hand” and “I don’t Wanna Kiss A Llama” (poem by Byron Von Rosenberg).
Counting 84 dramatic and musical roles on her resume, Wendi has also performed in 20 operas and operettas, and has many concert/recitals to her credit. The 1983 winner of the Miami University Concerto Competition, she performed excerpts from Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with the Miami University Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Carmen Deleone (New York City Ballet Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra, Springfield Illinois Symphony). Maestro Deleone also mentored Wendi in the art of “Big Band” Music.
Her 20 year performance career has grown to include teaching and conducting. A member of the faculty of Townsend Music School in Ballwin, Missouri for more the 22 years, concurrently with Mozingo Music in O’Fallon, Missouri, Wendi has taught and inspired more than 19 students to pursue successful careers in music and theater. She has taught and written curriculum for Stages Repertory Theatre Performing Arts Academy in Chesterfield Missouri.
For almost nine years, she served as director and artistic director of the St. Charles County Concert Arts Association, accepting invitations to perform at venues and events such as the 90th anniversary of the Hawaiian State Library in 2004, Carnegie Hall in 2005, and Kennedy Center in 2007. Always mindful of expanding the abilities of the group, Wendi led CAA in performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (sung in Hebrew) and selections from Les Miserables and The Lion King (in Africans) with a rock band. She also founded the Concert Arts Youth Choir, as well as an instrumental jazz ensemble, a kinderchor, and the Concert Arts Conservatory.
In 2007, Wendi created the company Imagination Destination Music. She led the development of the Kidz Muzik® program (introducing young children to the fundamentals of music), as well as Music and Me® , a multi faceted arts program for students with autism spectrum disorders and their parents (this program was modified for use with at risk children for summer camp). Working on a piano curriculum for students with developmental delays, Wendi has been inducted into the Continental Who’s Who of business Entrepreneurs for her leadership in music education.
Wendi lists among her mentors conductors Mr. Russell Hinkle, Dr. John Wabrick, Maestro Carmen Deleone, Ms. Margaret Hillis, Maestro Thomas Schippers, Maestro James Levine, and Dr. John Leavitt.
Her Bel Canto vocal technique is a direct reflection of her studies with Joan Moynagh, Bard Suverkrop, Russell Hosler, and coaches, Philon Ktsanes and Stanley Sontag.
The time spent with Maestro and Mrs. Cavally honed her ability to define minute details in the music; she is intimately familiar with every note in Mr. Cavally’s books, Solos for the Debutante Flutist, and most of his other flute method books.
Study in music theory is the foundation for everything she writes, and for that she thanks Mrs. Cynthia Gray, Dr. Jerome Stanley and Mr. Winfred Cummings.