Theresa Werba, M.M., soprano
Soprano Theresa Werba has been singing since the age of eleven, when her first public solo was "The Cruel War", which was popularized at the time by Peter, Paul and Mary. In junior high school her vocal talent was immediately apparent and at the age of thirteen she sang the alto and second soprano solos in Vivaldi's Gloria and Haydn's Missa in Tempore Belli (Mass in Time of War). She also dabbled in Broadway with the lead of Rizzo in "Grease" while attending the pre-college division at Mannes College of Music. During her years at Music and Art High School (now LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and Performing Arts) she was the soprano soloist in the Kodály Te Deum as well as the mezzo-soprano soloist in the Mozart Mass in C Minor, where she at the age of 17 she received a standing ovation for her performance of the "Laudamus Te" aria. She was also involved in various madrigal groups and small ensembles and found a deep love for early music, particuarly with her first exposure through the polyphony of Thomas Luis de Victoria and the madrigals of John Dowland and Thomas Morley. During this time she was also attending the pre-college at the Juilliard School where she studied with Elizabeth Bishop.
Ms. Werba was a poet since she was a young girl. When she was five one of her memorable lines read "When spring sees me play, spring is happy." At Music and Art High School she was published in the school poetry anthology and she began writing more seriously. Theresa stuggled with wanting to both sing and write as career choices, and wanted to go to a college where she could do both, as well as study early music particularly. The natural choice was Sarah Lawrence College, where she worked with LaNoue Davenport and Sheila Schonbrun of Music for A While while developing her skills as a poet.
Ms. Werba began playing the guitar at age eighteen and began writing and performing her songs at churches. ministries and pro-life events. Within a few years she developed an interest in using her singing and guitar skills in institutions, and began working (some in conjunction with Hospital Audiences, Inc.) as a therapeutic musician, where she went on to sing both for audiences and at beside in nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions, which she maintained for over twenty years.
Ms. Werba also was an historical performance major at Mannes College of Music where she studied voice with Julianne Baird and performed with the Mannes Baroque Ensemble under Phil Levin, the Mannes Camerata under Paul Echols, and studied performance practice with Drew Minter. Her particular interests drew her to the English lute song, the songs of Henry Purcell and the cantata and oratorio repertoires of J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel. While living in Hawaii Theresa made solo appearances with the Hawaii Chamber Orchestra, the Hawaii Opera Theater and the Europa Early Music Consort. She eventually received her Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College with a recital entitled "American Music: Roots and Branches", where she explored the Anglo-Celtic roots of American music, playing guitar, autoharp and mountain dulcimer. At this time she developed a deep affection for the songs of Stephen Foster and the American Sacred Harp folk-hymn tradition.
Ms. Werba took some years off to raise and homeschool her six children, during which time she began writing in earnest. It was during this period that she wrote her first two books in addition to writing articles for parenting magazines. She also produced a CD entitled "Lullabies: Traditional American and International Songs" (under the name Theresa Rodriguez) which features lullabies and songs in English, Latin, Yiddish, Spanish and Ladino (the language of the Sephardic Jews). This album is now available on all streaming services. She maintained solo appearances in churches and with groups such as the Lebanon Choral Society, St Luke's Chamber Orchestra and MiContraFa in performances of Bach and Handel oratorios, cantatas and motets.
Ms. Werba received her Master of Music with distinction in voice pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College where she studied voice pedagogy with Scott McCoy, Marvin Keenze and Chris Arneson. She has taught voice at Lebanon Valley College's Community Music Institute, The Yocum Institute of the Arts, the Community Music School of Reading and Penn State Berks, where she also directed the campus choir. Ms. Werba is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She has also been a contributing writer for Classical Singer magazine (under the name Theresa Rodriguez) where she has written a myriad of articles on a wide variety of topics of interest to classical singers. She enjoys attending local Sacred Harp singings. When she is not singing or writing or reading she enjoys playing her Steinway spinet, sewing, a mean game of Scrabble, and playing with her seven grandchildren.