Above: Hensrud performing a Kurt Weill program at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland in September 2017
“I absolutely feel international exposure and exchanges are essential for artistic growth. We as artists are asked to interpret life experiences which we may never have personally experienced,” says Tammy Hensrud, a Fulbright scholar alumna who studied at the world-renowned Hochschule für Musik Opernschule in Stuttgart, Germany. Lauded for her abilities as a singer and actress, Hensrud has performed in concerts and opera houses around the world. Today, along with her performing schedule, she is teaching the next generation of opera singers as a Professor of Voice.
After having her Fulbright renewed for a second year, allowing her to graduate with an Artist Diploma from the Hochschule für Musik, Hensrud was invited to audition for the Vienna State Opera Young Artist Program. This launched her operatic career, allowing her to perform all over the globe in countries ranging from Austria to South Africa to Japan, and helping her earn a spot in Austria’s prestigious Salzburg Festival. She returned to Stuttgart as a member of the Staatsoper Ensemble, where she remained for several years. “I have been fortunate to sing in many countries and be engaged in music making with many great artists as a result of my Fulbright,” explained Hensrud. “As a young artist, I was able to hear the greatest international opera singers and the Vienna Philharmonic in the pit every night at the Vienna Staatsoper. Upon my return to the U.S. years later, I was engaged by the MET from an audition; yet surely my experience and professional engagements in Europe allowed me the audition in the first place.”
Hensrud’s international experience studying and performing across Europe taught her how truly interconnected the world can be through the art of music. “As much as it is a cliché, music is certainly a universal language,” she shares. When she arrived in Germany for her Fulbright year, Hensrud already spoke the language with a fair level of fluency, but the ability to communicate the text, expression, and storyline is also a key element of performing. Through her Fulbright experience, she grew as an artist by immersing herself in the study of the language, history, lifestyle and cultural distinctions of the societies that created the art she performed. This in turn allowed her to interpret music from a place of deeper interpretive ability.
Although Hensrud currently lives in the U.S., she stills actively seeks opportunities to perform internationally. Among those opportunities was an invitation to be a part of the International George Sand Festival in 2016, which was held in Nohant-Vic, France. There, she performed a program dedicated to composer Pauline Viardot, which included works inspired by Federick Chopin’s Mazurkas. Both Viardot and Chopin were close friends and frequent guests of George Sand. In 2008, inspired by her passion for music written by female composers, Hensrud founded Feminine Musique. Along with fellow American soprano Korliss Uecker, the Duo Feminine Musique has performed across Europe and the U.S., including a piece by German composer Josephine Lang that had previously only been available in manuscript and was transcribed especially for them by Lang scholars Harald and Sharon Krebs.
Hensrud is an Adjunct Professor of Voice at Hofstra University in New York, where she teaches Diction and Private Voice, and is Visiting Associate Professor of Voice at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She is a contributing author to the book Women and the 19th Century Lied, has given Lecture Recitals and Master Classes at numerous Universities and serves as an Adjudicator for various competitions. Additionally, she is on the Voice Faculty of several Summer programs including the Music in the Alps in Bad Gastein, Austria, and works with young artists as the Vocal Director of the Oyster Bay Summer Music Festival.
The work Hensrud pursues today continues to be heavily influenced by her Fulbright study. German Lieder and the Music of Kurt Weill, Richard Strauss, an Gustav Mahler continue to be heavily featured in her solo performing engagements. This Season she will be heard at Café Sabarsky at the New York Austrian Art Museum, Der Neue Gallerie, in a program dedicated to music by German and Austrian composers between the wars including Weill, Spoliansky, Hollaender, Waxman and others. Additional concerts in 2018 include an evening of Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, and Loewe German Lieder and Duets at Schloss Drachenburg in Germany, Beethoven Lieder in Bonn, Germany, and Operatic Arias and Duets with Feminine Musique at the famous Marmorsaal in Bad Ems, Germany. A future program dedicated solely to Alma Mahler is programmed next year as well as Strauss and Gustav Mahler Orchestral engagements and more beloved Lieder Concerts. Hensrud is eternally grateful for the opportunities which have resulted from her Fulbright grant.