Two Sopranos – One Mission

Thomas Palmatier • America's MusiciansSeptember 2023 • September 10, 2023

SBO+: This month marks a slight departure from our usual approach in “America’s Musicians.” Usually, the military musician tells their story. Here, SBO+ editor-in-chief Tom Palmatier tells the stories of master sergeant Teresa Alzadon and sergeant first class Rachel Farber. Why? Because he hired them!

The Soldier’s Chorus

Auditions for any position in a military premier band (the highest echelon in the military music world) are high stakes for the auditionees but also for the ensemble looking to hire. You’re not just searching for the best performer on that day, you’re also picking someone who will ride many miles on a bus and work side-by-side with you for up to 30 years.

In 2009, I was commander/conductor of The U.S. Army Field Band, and we were hoping to hire a soprano for the soldier’s chorus. One of the first auditionees was a young singer fresh out of school. She was delightful in every way and had a sparkling high coloratura. We soon discovered she was also a superb violinist, something the Field Band could definitely use. Her name was Rachel Rose Farber. Score!

Soon, we heard another soprano who blew us all away. Huge vocal range, incredible technique, and a voice reminiscent of Renée Fleming’s. She was Teresa Alzadon. Dilemma!

We had only one soprano opening and desperately wanted to hire them both. After lots of hand wringing, we hired Farber to fill the soprano vacancy, and because of her terrific range, Alzadon would fill an alto slot until a vacancy opened in the soprano section.

MSG Teresa Alzadon (L) and SFC Rachel Farber (R)

About Alzadon, the San Diego Opera wrote: Soprano Teresa Alzadon has performed with Opera in the Ozarks, New York Opera Studio, Knoxville Opera, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Sacred Winds Ensemble, Jenny Wiley Theatre, and Seattle Bach Festival. Opera roles include Violetta in La Traviata, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Despina in Così fan Tutte, and title roles in The Merry Widow, and Dido and Aeneas. Professional theatre credits include Marian in The Music Man and Rosa Bud in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. She was the recipient of a Mary Levine Career Performance Grant, an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, and a Lori Mayer Fellowship. Originally from the Seattle area, Ms. Alzadon holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and theatre arts from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She earned a Master of Music in voice performance from the University of Tennessee as a Knoxville Opera studio artist.

Farber’s bio includes: Master of Liberal Arts, summa cum laude, from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Music, magna cum laude, from SUNY Purchase, Conservatory of Music in voice. She is a trained yoga teacher, certified in plant-based nutrition from the T Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Science, and a registered Suzuki violin teacher.

Words alone can’t describe the impact these two women have had on the Field Band as they travel the country performing in venues large and small. Once when we were on tour in the Midwest, I was asked to speak at a Rotary Club luncheon. Even I don’t want to hear me talk for very long, so I brought then-staff sergeant Farber along to sing for them. The polite applause I received was dwarfed by the standing ovation for her!

Alzadon has not only been one of the stars of the wonderful soldier’s chorus, but she is also a gifted leader and mentor and was promoted and appointed as soprano section leader.

Each and every day, young men and women volunteer to serve in America’s armed forces; something we should be proud of and thankful for. A small number of them are military musicians. Through “America’s Musicians,” SBO+ tells you their stories.

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