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William Cotten

Voice Faculty

William Cotten earned a Masters of Music from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelors of Music Education from Mississippi State University, being named Alumnus of the Year 2014-15 for the Music Department. He was also a member of the Opera Theater of the Boston and New England Conservatories. He studied voice with Lucy Phillips, Mark Pearson, and Susan Clickner, and coached with Angela Vanstory Ward, John Moriarty, Margo Garrett, Terry Decima, and Dennis Helmrich. He sang in master classes with Phyllis Curtin, Gérard Souzay, and William Warfield, and his directors have included Peter Sellars, Andrei Serban, John Moriarty, Linda Brovsky, and Leon Major.

He is on the faculties of The Boston Conservatory and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and taught at the New England Conservatory 1999-2014. He also served as the Director of the Voice Division at the University of Massachusetts/Boston 1990–2000. He was the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Massachusetts District Governor 2002–06, and was the Membership Chair and Song Festival Coordinator of the NATS Boston Chapter Board of Directors 1998–2004.

His students have sung throughout the United States and Europe in operas and concerts including performances with the Boston Pops, as well as on Broadway and in numerous national tours, regional theaters, and summer stock productions. They have won awards in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, George London Foundation Vocal Competition, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Vocal Competition, Marian Anderson Historical Society Scholars Competition, Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, Liederkranz Foundation Competition, Lotte Lenya Competition, Bethlehem Bach Vocal Competition, and NATS Boston Chapter Song Festival.

Cotten performed in the PepsiCo Summerfare production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Peter Sellars, which was also seen in Boston and Paris, filmed in Vienna and aired on PBS's Great Performances. He sang in the American Repertory Theater’s world premiere of Robert Moran and Phillip Glass's The Juniper Tree, directed by Andrei Serban.  He has performed in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. His opera credits include work with Wolf Trap Opera, June Opera Festival of New Jersey, Augusta Opera of Augusta, GA, Boston Opera Theater, The Friends of Dr. Burney, and the Boston Music Theatre Project. His roles were as diverse as Erice in Cavalli’s L’Ormindo and Alfredo in Die Fledermaus, with a particular affinity for the Benjamin Britten roles of Albert Herring, Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw.

He performed with Emmanuel Music in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and concerts of Bach and Schutz in Brussels, Belgium, and was a soloist with Chorus Pro Musica, Banchetto Musicale, Emmanuel Music, New Hampshire Symphony, Nashua Symphony Choral Society, Monadnock Music, Indian Hill Orchestra, Dartmouth Handel Society, Greater Merrimack Valley Chorale, Hampshire Choral Society and Swanhurst Chorale, as well as a resident soloist with the Breckenridge Music Institute of Colorado. He received 3rd place in the Metropolitan Opera New England Regional Auditions (1986) and was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986).

Cotten’s reviews have described his singing as “sweet-voiced” and “honey-toned”, and his performances as “bursting full of life”, “a natural scene-stealer”, “making his part as lyrically enticing as a whole string of Schubertian Lied.”

He continues work on A History of Great Singers, a series of multi-media seminars on the legacies of legendary singers which include “Icons: From Caruso to Callas to Sills,“ “An African American Quartet: Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price,“ “Hometown Echoes: Eleanor Steber, Phyllis Curtin, Grace Bumbry, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,“ “Great Singers in Film,“ “Great Singers on Television,“ “Leontyne Price,” and “Connections: The Great Singers’ Trivia Game.”


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