Prelude: Singer-Actor Performance Lab

An auditioned yearlong program (September – May) for high school students ages 14-18 who seek an environment where they can experiment and discover new possibilities as performing artists. 

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Student singing into a microphone

Prelude Components

  • Vocal Ensemble

    • Everything from Renaissance to Musical Theater to Opera to Jazz
    • Emphasis on a cappella repertoire and ear training
    • Sight-singing, theory, rhythmic and interpretive skills

    Performance Lab:  Voice Work, Acting, Movement for Singers

    • Addressing unique challenges of singer actors
    • Step-by-step approaches with gesture, face, focus, body, addresses tension, through structured play/self-discovery
    • Solo repertoire techniques applied in Vocal Arts with scenes from Opera and Musical Theater
    • Collaborative improvisation work in creative storytelling
    • Develop a portfolio of repertoire for auditions; duets and trios second semester
    • Coaching with collaborative pianists


    • Foster a strong community of student musicians and a supportive collaborative environment for individual growth.
    • Complement the musical instruction being offered in private studios and to support and facilitate performance skills for high school choral and musical theater programs.
    • Systematically weave together scientific and creative processes.
    • Nurture talent at an exceptional level through all disciplines of the singing actor.

The 2020-2021 MacPhail Prelude

“I can confidently say that [Prelude] shaped me into the vocalist I am today. Joining Prelude in high school was not only one of the best music decisions I’ve ever made – but life decisions”

Alec Waters, Prelude Alumnus and Pop Singer

“The skills that I learned in Prelude were key in my success as an opera singer. The training and support that I received were second to none and set me up for enormous success”

Brian Wallin, Prelude Alumnus and Palm Beach Opera Benenson Young Artist Program Member

Meet Our Prelude Faculty

Tuition, Scholarships & Financial Aid

Tuition for 2020-2021 is $650 per semester. For information about financial assistance applications please call Student Services at 612.321.0100 or email.

To apply for financial aid, please complete the Financial Aid Form.

Performance scholarships are awarded based on Prelude Auditions. The following scholarships are awarded on an annual basis:

Elinor Watson Bell Preparatory Program Endowment, created in 1991 by MacPhail board member Elinor Watson Bell (1911-2002). A gifted pianist and lifelong advocate of the arts, Elinor served on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and MacPhail. The first student to receive a scholarship in her honor was MacPhail Preparatory Program and violin student Emilia Mettenbrink in 1995.

Lillian Vail Scholarship, created in 1989 by Robin Withington in honor of her aunt, Lillian Vail, who taught dance at MacPhail for 43 years. She was a former vaudeville dancer who performed on Broadway and was friends with the actor Rudolph Valentino, comic George Burns and actor Archibald Leach (aka Cary Grant).

Henry H. Wade Scholarship, created in 1992 by Henry H. Wade at his death based on his long love of music and his desire to encourage students who are wishing to pursue a career in music.

Three students performing on stage

Get Started Today!

Singer-Actor Performance Lab is a year-long program (September-May). A written application begins the process.

Step 1: 2021-22 Application

Step 2: Submit application, essay and 1-2 minute recorded video selection (YouTube links only) to Manon Gimlett. Applications, videos, application fee and essay of intent are due by August 12. Materials will be reviewed shortly after August 12. Students will be notified of their audition results by September 1.

Prelude will take place on Saturday afternoons, September – May beginning September 18.

Interested in applying for the Prelude Leadership Team? Those who have participated in Prelude for at least 2 semesters may apply for Leadership Team positions. They must prepare 2 contrasting video selections, and their essays must include a section about what they would bring to the Leadership Team.

Email Manon Gimlett with any questions.

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