A 'crazy,' life-changing decision
After completing a yearlong international scholarship at LaGrange College, Denmark
native Kristoffer Appel couldn't think of leaving.
"I'm majoring in music and vocal performance because I plan to be an opera singer
one day," he says.
Singing opera is a long way from where he started.
Just before coming to LaGrange, Kristoffer had "planned to study political science."
Then, during his first semester at the college, along with French, graphic design
and political sciences classes, he arranged to study voice with Dr. Toni Anderson,
Chair and Professor of Music.
"I've always been singing. I was in a boys' choir when I was young but never had
any classical training."
"During my first lesson (with Dr. Anderson), we sang a song that's called 'Black
is the Color of My True Love's Hair.' It was so many things I hadn't thought about
in music before, just a single phrase.
"I realized how you have to be deliberate about it, think about pronouncing the
words and shaping the sound.
"I quickly fell in love with the music and that style of singing.
"Unlike musical theatre, opera has no dialogue, so you sing the whole part; I
love the entanglement of the music and voice.
"A lot of people hear it as noise, but to me, it's completely natural."
He says the opportunity revealed a hidden passion that has helped him to discover
the best of himself.
During January Interim Term, the session between fall and spring semesters, Kristoffer
and his classmates studied selected operas, which culminated in public performances
of operatic excerpts from "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Hansel and Gretel."
Hundreds of local schoolchildren attended the performances.
"That was a great experience for finding out what it is like to be on stage as
an opera singer. I learned about the kinds of things to focus on when you're on
stage, the effort required for rehearsals and the collaborative relationships between
the performers, director and musicians.
Kristoffer is also a member of the college's chamber choir, which he says is "another
reason I want to stay here at LaGrange."
"Debbie Ogle, who leads the choir, is a really, really inspiring teacher.
"That's what I think about so many of the professors who work here at the college;
they're such passionate people, so well-rounded and very good at their craft.
"The way they inspire me is a huge part of my wanting to stay in this environment.
"It's crazy to think that I would never have had this opportunity if I hadn't
come to LaGrange. It's meant more to me than I can explain in words. Now I know
this is the place for me."