I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible students over the years. Many of the talented singers I’ve worked with have gone on to great things – they have been accepted to Graduate, Undergraduate and summer programs such as University of Toronto, University of Manitoba, University of Alberta, Boston Conservatory, the New York Film Institute, Opera NUOVA in Edmonton, Halifax Summer Opera Festival, and numerous other prestigious programs. They have been competition finalists and winners (Provincial Music Festival, National Music Festival, Zita Bernstein Lieder Competition adjudicated by Elly Ameling) and have been featured as soloists with professional companies like Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Mennonite Community Orchestra, Manitoba Opera and Winnipeg Gilbert and Sullivan Society to name a few. Below are comments from some of them (past and present) who have pursued advanced studies in voice, as well as others who have been a part of my teaching over the years.
“David is such a great teacher and a truly wonderful person to work with. He took me in during a crucial stage in my vocal development and worked with me until I was prepared for successful auditions at both the UofT and UofM. He is a teacher who can be trusted to do what is best for his students, and I have so much respect for him because of that. I would be nowhere near where I am today without the foundation that was built during those years of lessons with him, and for this I am so incredibly grateful.”
Kira Fondse – University of Manitoba Performance Major
“I’ve learned more from his course alone than from any other course I’ve taken. I will take every piece of this experience with me into every show I do in the future. He is an absolutely brilliant director and knows how to make things work with what he’s given.”
Ashley Fredette – Adele in CMU’s production of “Die Fledermaus”
“David Klassen taught me so much in opera workshop this year. I learned how to be much more confident on the stage, and it has reflected my own persona in real life as well. He was always personable with his students and we could always ask him anything and get a clear and concise response. He is a teacher who knows exactly what to say and how to act around his students to make them comfortable in class. He is fun to be around yet still remains professional and it shows in his work with all his students.”
Deidra Borus – Mrs. Ford in CMU’s production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
“I had the wonderful privilege of working closely with David Klassen as his assistant for Canadian Mennonite University’s opera. Having never met or worked with David in the past, the only knowledge I had of him was from my fellow students – I can personally say that working with David has been one of the best experiences of my life. He embodies the “cool” professor students hope for, but also has a wealth of experience and information that he shares with everyone he works with. David is understanding and flexible but is still able to get down to business. I know that I speak for all students that have studied with David Klassen when I say that his passion, commitment, and musical talent and knowledge changes your life and he is someone that you can never forget.”
Kelsey Reimer – Assistant Director for CMU’s Opera Workshop
“David Klassen is an inspiring and encouraging director and educator. Full of energy and the desire to help his students, he will always find time to work on what is important to his performers. I have been very fortunate to be in five of his productions in various roles, and the opera workshop course was always the one around which I considered my music degree to revolve. David always sought to help us become competent and professional actor-singers. I felt that David believed in me and was able to see my potential and match it with an appropriate level of challenge. I am especially grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and work with him in a variety of roles: in the Mikado chorus, and as Ida, Rosalinda, Susanna and Anne Page. He is encouraging and gracious, but does not let us fall short of our potential – he demands the best from us in an encouraging and fun way. Through the opera workshop, David taught me how opera works – how to act, how to use the stage, to use the lights, to develop characters, as well as how to work the elements of music, technique, and relationships. He instills a love and joy of opera in his students. He not only directs, but produces the show, designs and builds the set, and instills a sense of reverence within his cast. CMU has been profoundly fortunate to have him on faculty, and he was one of the most inspiring professors and mentors I had during my degree. Since graduating and seeing how a few other directors work outside of CMU, I have become more aware of what a fantastic gift David has, and have grown to further cherish the time and development I have had in his Opera productions.”
Anna Bigland-Pritchard – Canadian Mennonite University Performance Major
“I’m thankful for David’s faith in me as a musician. He helped me to achieve what I always thought was impossible.”
Matthew Baron – Canadian Mennonite University Performance Major
“Through discipline, humor and genuine care, David Klassen has crafted me into the singer I am today, guiding me from recent voice change to a very high university level. Besides being brilliant at getting through to a student to help them understand the amorphous nature of singing technique, David is also a keen poetic and dramatic interpreter. He has guided me to sound my best and express the art of song honestly and passionately.”
John Anderson – University of Manitoba Performance Major
“David Klassen was my first voice teacher and introduced me to the world of vocal instruction. David’s dedication to his students and his positive and caring attitude played a significant role in igniting my passion for singing; and his friendly and genuine interest in his students makes him an ideal mentor. It is an honor to be a part of his teaching studio.”
Adam Sperry – University of Manitoba Performance Major
“There are a lot of things to say about David Klassen.
His is a welcome presence when students see him first thing in the morning. His fashion sense is the envy of all. But most importantly, when David teaches, his students listen. His combination of energy and wisdom makes lessons both enjoyable and instructive for all who learn from him – and that goes beyond the studio.
“I worked with David throughout my undergrad degree, and when it became time to move to the next level of performing I felt prepared because of his teaching. David is fantastic teacher who is encouraging and knowledgeable, but above all else I felt he could be trusted to guide and refine me as a performer. I always felt David was in my corner, and for that I am extremely thankful.”
Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck – Canadian Mennonite University Performance Major