Faculty & Staff Profiles

Caroline Helton

Associate Professor of Music

Caroline Helton, soprano, joined the voice faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the fall of 2000. She is an artist who enjoys the entire gamut of classical singing, but has a special affinity for art song and new music.

Dr. Helton’s recent concert performances feature newly rediscovered repertoire by Jewish composers whose lives were affected by World War II. Along with pianist Dr. Kathryn Goodson, the duo has recorded three compact discs, the last two of which contain rare song repertoire by Italian Jewish composers from the first half of the twentieth century, including Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Vittorio Rieti, Leone Sinigaglia and Guido Alberto Fano. American Record Guide had this to say about their CD entitled L’Infinito: Songs from a Lost World of Italian Jewish Composers:

“For the purposes of bringing recently discovered, historically significant music into the public consciousness, this recording should not be missed…. For aficionados of Italian music, opera or song, as well as people with an interest in music of the Holocaust or Jewish composers of this time, this recording is a must.”

Helton and Goodson have performed recitals of this repertoire in Italy as well as all over the U.S. In January of 2014 they were featured on a program commemorating International Holocaust Memorial Day at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC, which was followed by a performance of the same program on the Shenson Recital Series at Stanford University. The second CD of rare Italian songs, La Tregua: Songs from a Lost World of Italian Jewish Composers, Vol. II was released in January 2017 on the Blue Griffin label, and a third CD in the series, featuring first recordings of song repertoire by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, is planned for 2020 release.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Helton is in demand as a voice teacher of both classical and musical theater styles, and her pedagogical interests include research into the healing power of song. She has been collaborating with Dr. Emery Stephens on a project called “Singing Down the Barriers” since 2004, and together they have published articles in the Journal of Multicultural Teaching and Learning as well as the NATS Journal of Singing about their work using art songs and spiritual settings of African American composers as a means of facilitating difficult racial conversations with groups of voice students from diverse backgrounds at universities all around the country. Their next publication, a chapter on African American Art Song, will be included in Randy Jones’ upcoming performance guide entitled So You Want to Sing Sprituals, published by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Dr. Helton is also a master teacher with the Song of America Foundation, an organization founded by world-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson for the purpose of exploring the use of art song as an educational tool for literature, history and social studies in K-12 schools. In her other teaching, she is a member of the voice faculty of the Atlantic Music Festival, a summer program at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Dr. Helton is an Associate Professor of Music (Voice) in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance as well as an Associate of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She received BM and MM degrees in Vocal Performance from UNC-Chapel Hill and a DMA degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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