Jonelyn Langenstein, ’03, had always been drawn to music, but while standing in line to sign up for piano lessons during freshman Orientation Weekend at Whitworth, she realized she was drawn to voice. Langenstein jumped into the other line and began the vocal training that led her to an impressive professional singing career.
Prior to her freshman year, Langenstein sat in on a Whitworth Choir rehearsal, which helped compel her to apply to the college. As a student, the choir was the motivating force that propelled her to success. She first sang in the women’s choir after not making it into the Whitworth Choir her freshman year.
“That experience more than anything drove me to be a better singer, musician, performer and leader,” she said. In the years that followed, she became a section leader, president of the Whitworth Choir, and a member of the chamber singers, and she won regional and statewide singing competitions. During her senior year, she won the district auditions for the Metropolitan Opera National Council and received the Most Talented Young Singer Award.
Marjory Halvorson, Langenstein’s primary voice teacher at Whitworth, said, “It is thrilling to know that a young singer with just three years of vocal training can have this kind of success. In my opinion, Jonelyn has everything it takes for a career in opera.”
After graduating from Whitworth, Langenstein earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. She went on to perform with the Boston Lyric Opera, the Virtuosi Orchestra, and the Intermezzo Opera, and with the Connecticut Lyric Opera Company, where she sang lead roles in Mozart’s Magic Flute and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette.
In the years since, Langenstein has continued to perform opera, in San Francisco, while also pursuing a career to help singers and non-singers alike: in 2013, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a master’s in communicative disorders. She became a speech-language pathology clinical fellow at the Emory Voice Center in Atlanta, Ga., and in fall 2014 she began working as a speech-language pathologist at the University of California San Francisco Voice & Swallowing Center, in the department of otolaryngology.
At Whitworth, Langenstein felt encouraged and supported as a musician thanks to faculty like Halvorson, music professor Debbie Hansen, and pipe-organ instructor Lottie Evans, as well as fellow students like Kasey Graham, ’03, who shared a drive for a career in music. “Looking back to the beginning of my time at Whitworth, I feel like I had tremendous potential that had yet to be realized. The music faculty fueled my insatiable interest in all things music. They taught me the skills I needed to grow as a musician and performer. They guided my creativity and eventually gave me the encouragement to take my talent beyond Whitworth.”