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Alumna Profile: Sara Jakubiak

The New York Times has described her as a “plush-voiced, impressive soprano” in her recent turn as Fiordiligi in the New York City Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti. The Wall Street Journal identified her voice as “lustrous and soaring.” Who is the woman enjoying such accolades in the world of opera? Aquinas alumna Sara Jakubiak, a 2002 graduate. Traveling the United States and Europe from production to production, the exceptionally talented Jakubiak is a rising star at the beginning of a successful career in the extremely competitive classical music industry.

Even though it seems like a vocalist receiving so much positive praise now would have always dreamt of being a professional singer, Jakubiak at first wanted to be an English teacher when she arrived at Aquinas. Barbara Witham McCargar, AQ music professor and chair of the music department, recalls that “Sara was drawn to great poetry” and “had special music ability.” Combine those two character aspects in an individual who is a very gifted singer, and an artist-performer with all the right sensibilities and instincts emerges. Opera, a mélange of poetry and complex music, seemed a fitting musical pursuit.

Early singing success was instrumental in pushing Jakubiak towards a music career. “During her years at AQ,” said McCargar, “Sara was receiving a lot of positive critiquing through the auditions held each year by the State and Regional organizations of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.” She consistently won competitions and drew the attention of many people, including graduate school recruiters. After graduating with a degree in music from Aquinas, Jakubiak completed graduate studies at Yale University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, obtaining Master degrees from both institutions.

Jakubiak now performs in operas and takes on vocal roles in symphonic pieces. During this 2011-2012 opera season, Jakubiak has performed in Warsaw, Poland playing the role of Fiora in L’amore dei tre re, as the aforementioned Fiordiligi in New York, and with the Virginia Opera as Eurydice in Phillip Glass’ Orphée, among others. In 2011 Jakubiak was a finalist in the George London Competition, a foundation providing awards to young singers to support their early careers. In addition to live performances, she has also recently recorded music. In 2008 she sung music by Charles Ives for the Naxos label’s “American Classics” recording series.

Although Jakubiak’s career requires frequent travel and a very busy schedule, she returns to Grand Rapids and Aquinas College on April 24, 2012 to sing at "One Enchanted Evening," a benefit for the ongoing 125th Anniversary celebration during the 2011-12 academic year. She will be performing alongside Dr. Andrew Fleser ’00 and Barbara Witham McCargar after a gourmet dinner for donors and benefactors. The event includes romantic rambles on the historical campus grounds, complete with historical tour guides and antique replica trolleys. No doubt Jakubiak will add charm and delight to the “enchanted” evening.