Bonnie Koestner can identify with the Florentine artists who toiled to create the masterpieces of the Renaissance. When it comes to an artist making a living, some things may not have changed all that much over the last few centuries.
“I’ve spent most of my career as a free-lance musician – 30 years getting gigs,” said Koestner. “It’s very much what the Renaissance artists had to do. They had to work with their patrons or a prince or the church, so they were not, for the most part, employed full-time.”
Now an Associate Professor of Music at Lawrence University, Koestner has been appointed Visiting Faculty with the ACM Florence: Arts, Humanities, & Culture program for fall 2010, where she will teach two courses. One will explore the creative and business aspects of the life of the Renaissance artist. Typical of the Florence program’s “outside the classroom” approach, Koestner and her students will travel throughout the city to visit and talk with a variety of Florentine artists, many of whom use techniques very similar to those used by the Renaissance masters.
Celebrating the City: The Image of Florence as Shaped Through the Arts, Koestner’s other course on the program, will similarly straddle the past and present as it examines the reasons that the arts have flourished in Florence and the role that this artistic heritage has played in the lives of the city’s residents over time.
Bonnie Koestner and members of the cast prepare to set sail in one of her opera productions.
Koestner leads the Lawrence Conservatory’s opera program, coaches voice and piano majors, and has taught at the Lawrence London Centre. During her career as a rehearsal pianist, vocal coach, and chorus master, she has participated in over 200 productions with opera companies across the U.S., including the San Francisco Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Baltimore Opera. She’s been the Chorus Master at Glimmerglass Opera in upstate New York for the past 13 summers.
Not surprisingly, opera has always pulled Koestner to Italy. “I love everything that’s Italian, and working in opera is really my hook to Italy,” she said. “I’ve done all the Puccini and the Verdi operas. It’s not exactly modern conversational Italian, but I’ve had to think in Italian a lot, and I love the spirit of Italian culture.”
Koestner is looking forward to teaching on the ACM program. “The chance to be in Italy for an extended time has been a dream of mine for a long time,” she said.
Links for more information:
- ACM Florence: Arts, Humanities, & Culture
- Bonnie Koestner’s courses in Florence in fall 2010: Celebrating the City: The Image of Florence as Shaped Through the Arts (syllabus) and The Professional Artist in Renaissance Florence (syllabus)
- Bonnie Koestner’s bios on the ACM website and the Lawrence University website