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MCW Prep Vocal Program: Music and Life Lessons from Faculty Korliss Uecker

Nov 20, 2020

Metropolitan Opera Soprano and MCW Prep Vocal Performance faculty Korliss Uecker’s beginnings with the Internationally-renowned New York City opera company is a lesson in preparedness.

“I never had a stage audition and came into the Met Opera in an unusual way. I was hired last minute to fill in for a recording with Deutsche Grammophon and auditioned at midnight for the Company. I didn’t have time to be worried. It was a very good case for being prepared, being in good physical and vocal condition, and being ready with music to rock and roll.”

It’s a lesson she strives to teach her voice students in the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s MCW Prep Vocal Program. MCW Prep, which launched in September 2019, is a precollege training program for serious, talented high school musicians and singers with the opportunity to study with master performers of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. MCW Prep is open by audition to violin, viola, cello, clarinet, flute, and voice students entering grades 9 through 12.

“This is a small, individualized program for singers and musicians to learn classical, musical theatre, and pop styles,” Korliss explains. “I love helping young performers discover themselves and their potential. They each have something special that can be achieved only by them, and their individual contributions to music and the world.”

In addition to weekly private lessons with voice faculty and Metropolitan Opera performers Korliss Uecker, soprano, or Stefan Szkafarowsky, bass, MCW Prep Vocal Program students also take sight singing, music theory, piano, dance and movement, master classes, and a weekly Everything Vocal class that Uecker has designed for students to learn about all aspects of their instrument as well as early exposure to their potential careers in music. Monthly master classes this year include exclusive sessions with Tony Award-winner Faith Prince, Cabaret performer and Director Celeste Simone, and SAG Award-nominated actress Sakina Jaffrey.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given Uecker a different perspective on training her students. “We are not considered ‘essential,’ but talk to anyone in this current situation – music, dance, movies, TV shows – it helps you get through difficulties. Music and the arts are part of our journey throughout life.”

College advisement is a major component of the MCW Prep program. Uecker is deeply involved in ensuring her students’ success no matter their future goals. She hopes that her students also bear in mind a lesson that has held true in all aspects of her life: Be flexible.

“I want students to consider all of their options. I hope my students think about music-related professions that allow for musical careers to flourish. Some kids may become professional performers, and some may become history professors who are also choir conductors. There are so many ways we bring music to the world.”

An MCW Prep Vocal Program alumna said this of her experience: Working with my vocal teacher, Korliss Uecker, has been such a learning experience—her advice, expertise, and professionalism has been amazing. In addition, my music theory class has been helpful as I prepare to study music in college. Overall, my time studying voice and theatre in the MCW Prep Program with other passionate students has been wonderful.” For more information about MCW Prep, visit