Where I Last Got Paid to Sing: Versatility Pays—Soprano Leah Podzimek

Hailing originally from Iowa, lyric soprano Leah Podzimek is a versatile performer currently based in Denver. She has performed throughout the United States and Europe, ranging from Baroque ensembles to premieres of new operas. This month Podzimek shares her experience singing with the Colorado Bach Ensemble. 


Where did you last sing and get paid? 

I last got paid to sing with the Colorado Bach Ensemble for their spring 2018 performances of Bach’s Mass in B minor


How much were you paid? 

I was paid a total of $560. I earned $80 for each rehearsal and performance. There were five, three-hour rehearsals and two performances. 


Where and when was the gig? 

The gig was in multiple locations along the Front Range in Colorado. Rehearsals and one performance took place at a church in south Denver, and one performance took place at Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts in Fort Collins. Rehearsals were May 12-17 and performances were May 18 and May 20. 


How long did it last? 

The entire process lasted eight days, including rehearsals. But, of course, it took me a few weeks beforehand to learn all the music. 

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How did you get the job? 

When I moved to Colorado nearly five years ago, I saw a poster advertising auditions for the Colorado Bach Ensemble. Having attended a Lutheran affiliated college, I had sung a lot of Bach. It seemed like a natural fit and a fun first foray into the local singing scene. 

My audition went well, and I was contracted to sing in two major choral works that year. Since then, I have been contracted to sing in at least one work each season. This was my fourth contract with the ensemble. 


What was your overall experience like? 

The overall experience with Colorado Bach Ensemble is great, which is why I continue to return when offered a contract. The musicians are all local professionals who enjoy performing the repertoire, they come thoroughly prepared to first rehearsals, and they adapt quickly to the needs and desires of the conductor. 


How did the audience respond? 

The audiences responded exceedingly well and do so consistently. Because the quality of musicians and performances is so high and our conductor is so experienced, everything comes together beautifully, and the audience can tell. They appreciate that. 


What didn’t you love about the gig? 

I love that gigs with Colorado Bach Ensemble have short rehearsal periods and decent pay, but more recently I have become more settled in my voice, which is significantly larger than a traditional Bach singer. 

The more work I do, the less my voice likes to be put into the “box” that is choral singing. The conductor is aware of this, and because I have a large voice and larger range, I am usually in the alto section even though I am a soprano. However, since the Mass in B minor has two soprano parts, I sang second soprano. It is exhausting and difficult to maintain efficient technique when you’re living in your passaggio for two hours. I didn’t love that! 


Would you do this or a similar gig again? 

Depending on the work and the part I’m contracted to sing, most definitely. There is a reason why this is my fourth contract with the ensemble. 


Anything else you would like to add? 

While this is my fourth contract with the ensemble, it is the only choral singing that I do, so it’s a bit unusual for me. I am usually singing opera or art song, so it’s a nice change in my schedule. Additionally, it is a good chunk of pay for me, so I keep doing it. I would love to get more paid operatic gigs, though.

Michelle Latour

Dr. Michelle Latour is active as a teacher, singer, writer, and adjudicator and lives in Las Vegas. She has been on the full-time faculties at several universities. She is currently a voice faculty member for the Italian-based summer program, The International Opera Performing Experience and owns a private studio, the LATOUR Voice Studios. You can visit her at www.thelatourvoicestudios.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.