Diane B Thornton 

Contralto
Performer
Vocal Instructor

Biography

For thirty years,  Diane Thornton has distinguished herself as a singer and actress through solo engagements in opera, orchestral works, chamber music and as a song recitalist. Garnering solid accolades that include five Opera News reviews, she performed roles in eight different productions (La Cenerentola, Romeo et Juliette, The Mikado, Faust, Lucia di Lammermor and Cavalleria Rusticana among them) by Piedmont Opera Theater while also performing Zulma in The Italian Woman in Algiers in a shared production between Piedmont Opera Theater and Opera Carolina and repeating the role of Mamma Lucia with Opera Carolina. Besides performing the role of Third Lady in Greensboro Opera's Die Zauberfloete, she returned there as Flora in La Traviata, Mercedes in Carmen and Dame Quickly in Falstaff.  She also performed roles with, among others, Gold Coast Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia (Maestra delle Novizie in Suor Angelica), and the Delaware Valley Lyric Opera (Rosina in Il Barbiere dSiviglia).  Her interests in contemporary music led her to premiere roles in operas by American composers Sam Dennison and Joseph Summer through the Billings Institute of American Music and the Contemporary Opera Company of America. In addition, she premiered American vocal works through such venues as the Carolina Composers Symposium, the Penn Composers Guild, the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival, The Shakespeare Concerts and the Davidson College Concert Series. Contemporary pieces (along with a variety of "classical" genres) have also been featured in recitals  she has offered through such organizations as The Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Hermitage Mansion Summer Music Festival, and the Weymouth Artist Series. Even orchestral performances have sometimes involved contemporary works by Vaughan-Williams, Durufle, and Barber, among others; but the majority of repertoire she has performed as a concert soloist has been that of pre-twentieth century composers (including Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Mahler) and, especially, of baroque music through such organizations as the Charlotte Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony (PBS performance), the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Carnegie Hall, the Kansas City Symphony, the South Carolina Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (PBS performance), the National Chorale at Lincoln Center, the Winston-Salem as well as the Canton (Ohio) and Western Piedmont Symphonies, the Messiah Choral Society in Florida and the Bach Aria Group.  Upon her retirement from 22 years of service as Artist Associate in Voice at Davidson College, Diane's interest in having a better understanding of the challenges of performing contemporary commercial vocal music, combined with an especially great appreciation of the jazz genre, has led her to perform vocal jazz pieces (including Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington) through initiatives such as A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas Straight Ahead Jazz sessions and a lecture recital at Gaston College.  She has also participated as a singer in Rock jam sessions and continues to do so!
Diane's interest in teaching was spawned by the experiences she had as a vocal student. She started collecting vocalises given to her as early as her high school years. In Philadelphia, she had the good fortune of studying with Klara Meyers, a former pupil of the highly renowned Marion Szekely Freschl who taught at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School of Music. After finishing her graduate studies at Temple University, Thornton started teaching at the Settlement Music School; and her employment at Settlement was followed by adjunct faculty assignments at Catholic University, Wake Forest University and the Community Music School of Salem College, which then led to her appointment as Artist Associate in Voice at Davidson College.  Past students (including those from Davidson) have gone on to either undergraduate or graduate study at institutions that include The Eastman School of Music, The New England Conservatory, and The Manhattan School of Music; and she has provided mentoring to a number of people who are actively performing as either "solid" amateurs or professional singers across the United States and abroad.
While teaching at Davidson, Diane created and oversaw initiatives to aid in the total musical growth of vocal students. She co-produced and performed in Bachfest '96, a combination of performances and master classes that involved students and faculty from Davidson College and UNC-Charlotte, Charlotte area choruses, invited professional vocal soloists and instrumentalists, and the renowned Bach Aria Group. She produced and performed in a Baroquefest at Davidson. She introduced a vocal performance initiative for the Davidson Residency of England's Royal Shakespeare Company that grew into a production called Infinite Variety, and then served as vocal coach as Davidson students performed this program of songs with Elizabethan texts at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. She created as a pass/fail course the Opera Theater workshop for students, during which Davidson singers have performed a variety of selected operatic scenes (including some in foreign languages) and complete one act contemporary American operas. She created chamber music opportunities for vocal students in recital, encouraging dialogue between instrumentalists and singers and emphasizing the importance of collaborating with others toward the complete communication of the "marriage" of music and text. During her last several years at Davidson, she advocated for and created initiatives for mentored student experiences in performing jazz vocal music, both in recital with jazz combo support and through rehearsals/master classes with jazz experts.  Now, as a private voice teacher, her intention is to help instill a greater cultural understanding of and an appreciation for a variety of genres of vocal music (including "rap") as well as healthy vocal techniques.   She also seeks to instill a sense of confidence in one's ability to develop problem solving skills as well as in one's general self worth.

Click on the link below to view a copy of Diane Thornton's Curriculum Vitae.