Guided by PBA Professors, Alumnae Master Opera in Europe

Voice teachers Marilyn Mims, Dr. Lloyd Mims and their students, daughter Virginia Mims, Aarun Kassam, Sydney Carbo, Lauren Graber, Sarah Rogers, Daland Jones, Zaryah Gourgel, and Arvindan Thekkadath pose for a photo at the Fondation Bell'Arte's Paris International Summer Sessions.Three recent music alumnae took a vocal performance class in Paris taught by PBA professors and attended by some of the best up-and-coming musicians from around the world.

Dr. Lloyd Mims, dean emeritus of the University’s School of Music & Fine Arts, and Artist in Residence Marilyn Mims taught the Fondation Bell’Arte’s voice masterclass during summer sessions at the Conservatoire Municipal de Vincennes. PBA alumnae Sarah Rogers ’19, Lauren Graber ’13 and Sydney Carbo ’19 were among their seven protégés.

“What we do in Paris is focused on a very high level of singers — people who can learn and perform quickly and are secure enough in their vocal development and technique to thrive in such a high level festival,” Lloyd Mims said.

Every day, each singer receives two voice lessons and coaching on an opera. Each vocalist also performs at least three solos during the week, Lloyd Mims said.

“It looks good on their resumes to have performed in Paris,” Lloyd Mims said.

Students also have plenty of time to go sightseeing and experience the sights and sounds of Paris.

Sydney Carbo, Virginia Mims and Sarah Rogers pose for a photo at Arc de Triomphe while sightseeing in Paris. They were in France for the Fondation Bell'Arte's Paris International Summer Sessions.Four or five students or recent alumni typically accompany the Mims to the festival, which is predominantly attended by pianists. The Fondation Bell’Arte also presents the International Certificate for Piano Artists, whose masterclasses PBA has hosted for 14 years.

When organizers decided to add a voice performance to the Paris International Summer Sessions six years ago, they invited the Mims to become the coordinators and teachers.

Carbo attended the festival for the second time this year. The personal attention allowed her to “really get into the nitty gritty of the music,” she said. “It’s always a fruitful experience with them (the Mims), for sure.”

Although Marilyn Mims was her teacher at PBA, Lloyd Mims was not. Carbo enjoyed getting a different perspective from Lloyd Mims’ teaching while fine-tuning her art with Marilyn Mims.

“She knows my voice. She knows how I work, so we were able to get into the details of dynamics and expression,” Carbo said. “We just had such a good experience honing, refining, polishing these pieces.”

Carbo and the other students performed their work in front of guests, faculty and the other musicians, who came from as far away as China, South Korea, Brazil and elsewhere in Europe. Carbo, a West Palm Beach native, practiced the French she learned during two semesters at PBA, which helped her “very, very greatly” in communicating, she said.

Days before the Paris International Summer Sessions, Carbo studied at the Opera Lucca festival in the birthplace of renowned Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The Mims’ daughter, Virginia, participated in the month-long festival, too.

Each morning, students had four hours of Italian classes taught by native Italian speakers. Their afternoons were spent in rehearsals, voice lessons and coaching sessions with acclaimed performers and musicians. In the evenings, they’d forego sightseeing to study their music.

At the conclusion, the artists put on two performances of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”

“It was transformative,” Carbo said. “The program itself was a lot of work in the best way possible.”

Carbo plans to pursue her Master of Music at the University of Kentucky, another step toward fulfilling her dream of becoming an opera singer.

Photo 1: Voice teachers Marilyn Mims, Dr. Lloyd Mims and their students, daughter Virginia Mims, Aarun Kassam, Sydney Carbo, Lauren Graber, Sarah Rogers, Daland Jones, Zaryah Gourgel, and Arvindan Thekkadath pose for a photo at the Fondation Bell'Arte's Paris International Summer Sessions.

Photo 2: Sydney Carbo, Virginia Mims and Sarah Rogers pose for a photo at Arc de Triomphe while sightseeing in Paris. They were in France for the Fondation Bell'Arte's Paris International Summer Sessions.