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Mezzo Laurie Rubin: The Color of Dreams and Music

Jonathan Barkat

She's blind.  She can't see.  Unfortunately, for many people, it's a stigma they can't overcome.  They are the naysayers, the ones who ironically just can not see beyond a person's imperfections.  She's not normal, they say.  She'll never live a normal life, find romance, hold a job or live independently.

They are wrong.  They are the ones who are blind.

Meet mezzo Laurie Rubin.  Blind since birth, in the short time she's been on Earth, Rubin, 33, has accomplished much more than many sighted persons.  Not only is she an acclaimed mezzo-soprano who performs onstage, she co-founded and co-directs the Musique a la Mode Chamber Music Ensemble in Manhattan and she's one of the founders of the baroque ensemble Callisto Ascending. Rubin is also a jewelry designer and an author.  And she skis.  Yet, in an interview with the Washington Post she said recently, “People are so terrified to hire me. They are afraid I will fall into the orchestra pit.”

She's had to prove herself in ways unlike most. While studying at Oberlin College, she was turned down 

for an opera study program because the director feared she wouldn't learn as quickly as the other students.  She told the Post that, with some prodding from her voice teacher, she quickly realized she'd 
have to have a talent, "...so compelling that they would justify going out of their way and work past 
their own fears to hire you.”

Since then, Rubin has performed in New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London's Wigmore Hall, the Parcol Auditorium of Music in Rome, and elsewhere.  Her debut was in Washington's Kennedy Center in 1997, after she'd won the VSA Arts/Panasonic Young Soloist Award and the LA Spotlight Award in Classical Voice.

She was a 1999 Aspen Music Festival fellow in the vocal chamber music program. She won both the Dean's Talent Scholarship Prize and the Faustina Hurlbutt Prize at Oberlin Conservatory, and the Horatio Parker Memorial Prize in 2003 from the Yale School of Music.  In 2004, Rubin won the Hennings-Fischer Young Artists Competition.

Rubin has performed the lead role in Rossini's "La Cenerentola," the lead role in Gordon Beeferman's "The Rat Land" with the New York City Opera and the role of Penelope in Monteverdi's "The Return of Ulysses" at the Greenwich Music Festival.  She's also collaborated with and premiered works by John Harbison, Gabriela Lena Frank, Bruce Adolphe, Keeril Makan, Noam Sivan and Gordon Beeferman

Rubin is a graduate of Oberlin College and earned a Master of Music degree at Yale.

Listen for Jill's conversation with mezzo Laurie Rubin, and music from her CD, "Do You Dream In Color," on Crossover, Saturday morning at 11:30 on WRTI, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7 on HD-2 and the All-Classical stream at wrti.org.

It's his parents' fault. For Joe's sixth birthday, they gave him a transistor radio. All of a sudden, their dreams of having a doctor or lawyer (or even a fry cook) in the family went down the tubes.