Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Amine Berriche

Headshot of Amine Berriche wearing a suit and bowtie in front of a beige background

Hometown: Fargo, ND

Major: Vocal Performance BMus

Activities you are involved in: University Opera Theatre

What is your favorite college memory?

It's hard to choose a favorite, but one experience that sticks out was my operatic role debut with the University Opera Theatre program as Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Learning this role under the musical direction of Maestro Mark Russell Smith and the stage direction of Professor David Walsh was a foundational artistic experience which taught me so much and allowed me to develop immensely as a musician and actor. Performing onstage again after so long was also just so refreshing. This was an experience that reminded me why I love to perform. 

Did you participate in any student organizations, Learning Abroad programs, research or internship opportunities, or other related experiences? How have you learned from them?

Through a scholarship from the Voices of Vienna organization, I was privileged to attend the Internationale Sommer Akademie in Salzburg, Austria and study with internationally-renowned operatic baritone Andreas Schmidt. The program was a two-week session consisting of voice lessons and masterclasses as well as lessons in German and Alexander technique. 

This opportunity allowed me to meet so many skilled musicians, attend some extraordinary concerts, and allowed me to develop and discover my own musicianship. What I think I will take away most is how inspired I felt. It was truly an experience that made me want to create even more art and cemented for me that my life was meant to be spent pursuing music.

What is your favorite class that you took in CLA? Is there a professor that you particularly enjoyed working with? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

My favorite class would definitely be my applied voice lessons with Professor John De Haan. I've been studying with him for a little over three years now and have learned a great deal. It's not easy work. One lesson every week, daily practice, sometimes it clicks, sometimes it takes a painstakingly long time to finally get a concept right. In the end, lessons with Professor De Haan have taught me a lot not only about singing, but skills that I can take with me in other parts of my life. I'm extremely grateful and fortunate to have been able to work with such a world-class voice teacher.

How would you describe your time in your major?

I was very lucky to be surrounded by great professors and mentors who cared for me on a personal level and were committed to my success. The School of Music is really a tight-knit community because day in and day out I see a lot of the same faces. I've gained a lot of great friends and have been privileged to make connections with so many wonderful people.

If you could go back and give your first-year self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be more social and explore any and every opportunity that you're interested in! I remember that I spent a lot of time cooped up in my dorm and only a little time making memories with friends during my first semester. Second semester, I started branching out and enjoying more time with friends until COVID-19 happened, and all I thought about during that time was how much I wish I had just done more. 

Take your classes seriously and be a good student, but also make time for the things that you love to do. At the end of your four years, spending time with people you enjoy doing the things you love will be the memories you treasure most.

What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

I'm planning to take some time off after graduation. I have to have spine and jaw surgery, and those will take some time to recover from. Outside of that, I plan to use this time towards self-discovery, self-improvement and diversification of my skill set, as well as following opportunities that are harder to be involved in while simultaneously working on a degree. If all goes well, in about two years time, I'm planning on returning to the University of Minnesota to pursue a master's degree in vocal performance!

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