Some people sat motionless and others held their breath – but everyone in the audience was mesmerized by her voice. CSU alumna and soprano vocalist, Maureen Sorensson, sang in the university’s first guest recital of the season, Monday. Pianist David King and trumpet player David Shaner accompanied her.
“Watching her sing was very inspiring,” said Melissa Young, a junior majoring in music education. “It’s nice to see someone so confident in what they are doing.”
The concert was dedicated to four of her musical mentors: Dr. James McCray, Mr. Edward Anderson, Dr. John Luek and Mr. Michael Lipe. Dr. McCray discovered Sorensson’s vocal talent at “The Stars of Tomorrow” competition and offered her the top freshman scholarship at CSU and Mr. Anderson awarded her the Edward Anderson scholarship. Dr. Luek introduced Sorensson to opera and Mr. Lipe was her voice teacher.
“I swore I would never force Maureen to take music lessons,” said Ann Sorensson, the singer’s mother. Maureen’s mother never enjoyed music lessons, but this did not affect her daughter’s early fascination with music. Her father’s love for musicals, however, did influence Maureen and her sister. While her sister learned to play different musical instruments, Maureen started singing in children’s operas in elementary school.
She continued to sing in choirs throughout the rest of her school career. Then she pursued a higher education in music and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from CSU and CU at Boulder.
It was not until Sorensson quit taking jazz lessons in college that she discovered her passion for opera. There is an acting component of opera that she really enjoys and her voice is naturally structured to handle the large range of notes in opera music.
A constant inspiration for Sorensson has been the legendary Swedish nightingale singer, Jenny Lind. Not only does Sorensson bear a resemblance to the Swedish vocalist, she also identifies with her in a certain way.
“Performing always intimidated (Jenny Lind) and even though it was very stressful, she loved to do it,” she said. “Singing in front of an audience has been that way for me.”
Although Sorensson was very nervous about her performance Monday, she conveyed complete confidence.
“The songs were very technical and had some really high notes,” she said. In the past, she avoided some of the very same songs she recently performed in the concert because of their technical difficulty.
Sorensson’s ability to sing more difficult songs has grown from years of practice and experience from many concerts. She performs about 7 to 12 concerts a year, and currently sings with Central City Opera Outreach. She is also on the voice staff at the Augustana Institute of Music and is auditioning for a full time position at Opera Colorado.
Although Sorensson loves singing for a career, it is very difficult for her to earn a living that way. She has to budget really well and earn extra money by teaching and doing other side performances such as weddings and opera parties. “Any musician will tell you they eat a lot of tuna surprise for dinner,” she said. Even so, she considers the rewards of her career worth the sacrifices she has to make.
She is fascinated by her ability to evoke emotions and memories in people through her voice and feels that singing gives her a stronger connection with her faith.
When Sorensson is not practicing her songs, she is usually spending time with her family or going out with her friends.
“I never want to hear someone say I am such a diva,” she said. “I always try to be thankful and humble.” She would love to get married, have a family, and continue teaching music in the future.
A dream of hers would be to perform outside of the U.S. someday.
“Music has been an amazing journey for me, Sorensson said. “It takes a lot of persistence, prayer and patience.”
For information about her upcoming performances visit her website at maureensoprano.com.