Praised for her warm, rich tone quality, sensitive musicality, and compelling stage presence, mezzo-soprano Laura Beckel Thoreson is a rising presence in the opera and concert world.
Equally at home in the opera house, on the concert stage, and in the recital hall, Ms. Thoreson has appeared as a guest artist with such groups as Portland Opera, Eugene Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Augusta Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Indiana University Opera Theatre, the Oregon Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, San Juan Symphony, the Bach Cantata Choir and Orchestra, and more, and has been a four-time guest artist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Thoreson has performed as a soloist in many concert works, including Bach's B Minor Mass, Magnificat, St. John Passion, and numerous cantatas, Händel's Judas Maccabeus and Messiah, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Mozart's Coronation Mass, Requiem, and Solemn Vespers, Purcell's Thy Word is a Lantern, Respighi's Laud to the Nativity, Vivaldi's Gloria and many more.
Opera roles include Zulma (Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri), Nefertiti (Philip Glass' Akhnaten), the Old Lady (Bernstein's Candide), La Zia Principessa (Puccini's Suor Angelica), Jo March (Adamo's Little Women), Orfeo (Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice), Suzy (Puccini's La Rondine) and Dido (Purcell's Dido and Aeneas). Opera scenes--prepared under the tutelage of world-renowned soprano Carol Vaness--include Dame Quickly (Verdi's Falstaff), Adalgisa (Bellini's Norma), Hansel (Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel), Nerone (Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea), Rosina (Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Suzuki (Puccini's Madama Butterfly).
Fortunate to be married to skilled collaborative pianist Joel Thoreson, Ms. Thoreson enjoys performing recitals in a wide variety of musical genres, including classical art song, early and new music, musical theater, and jazz. In 2012, Ms. Thoreson was invited to give a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the Conservatory Project, where she performed the Seguidilla from Bizet's Carmen, Manuel de Falla's Siete canciones populares espanolas, and Rossini's Canzonetta Spagnuola. Most recently, Ms. Thoreson--along with soprano Arwen Myers and pianist Susan McDaniel--launched Northwest Art Song, an organization based in Portland which celebrates and promotes the art of the song recital in the Pacific Northwest. Along with her fellow NWAS members, Ms. Thoreson has appeared on All-Classical 89.9's Thursdays at Three radio program multiple times, and at Portland's Friends of Chamber Music and Friends of Music events.
A great advocate for new music, Ms. Thoreson recently performed the world premiere of Pacific Northwest composer Teresa Koon's new song cycle, Songs of God and Laughter, for mezzo-soprano, trumpet, and four-hand piano. In 2016, she recorded two new works with Fifth House Ensemble by Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer J.J. Wright at the University of Notre Dame. She has also recorded Don Freund's Medicine Wheel, a duet cycle for soprano and mezzo-soprano written for Ms. Thoreson, soprano Arwen Myers, and Native American flautist and former principal flautist of the Philadelphia Orchestra James Pellerite. Ms. Thoreson has enjoyed appearing as a soloist with the IU New Music Ensemble (Eric Lindsay's award-winning Piano) and Contemporary Vocal Ensemble (Arvo Pärt's Missa Syllabica), in addition to other contemporary music groups.
A great choral music enthusiast, Ms. Thoreson has been a member of several professional ensembles, including The Kammerbach Ensemble, Aguava New Music Studio, Apollo's Voice, Vox Reflexa, Prometheus, and Portland-based Cappella Romana, Resonance Ensemble, Trinity Chamber Singers, and The Ensemble of Oregon. She has had the pleasure of performing with several high-level choirs throughout her career, including Indiana University's Contemporary Vocal Ensemble and University Singers and early music ensemble Pro Arte Singers. Ms. Thoreson has sung with the cathedral choir at St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, OR, and with Collegium Musicum at St. James Proto-Cathedral in Vancouver, WA, and Northminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN.
In addition, Ms. Thoreson has worked as a recording artist with AireBorn Studios in Indianapolis, recording demos for Boosey and Hawkes, Hal Leonard, and other major music publishers, and with Dynamic Catholic and Oregon Catholic Press. Her recordings have appeared in the Top 10 on the Billboard Classical charts.
Ms. Thoreson has been fortunate to work with such illustrious conductors, directors, coaches, and teachers as Arthur Fagen, Monica Huggett, Craig Jessop, Raymond Leppard, George Manahan, Kevin Noe, Robert Porco, Michael Ehrman, Candace Evans, Carol Vaness, Gary Arvin, Kevin Murphy, Timothy Noble, Patricia Wise, Paul Kiesgen, and Dr. Julia Nielsen.
Ms. Thoreson is a current Performer Diploma candidate at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she received her Master of Music in Voice, studying under Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Voice at Central Washington University, as a student of Diane Thueson Reich.
A native of Vancouver, Washington, Ms. Thoreson was a member of the voice faculty at the University of Portland for three years, and is currently on faculty at Clark College in Vancouver. She also maintains a full private voice studio in the Portland area. Her students are frequent performers, competitors, and winners at local, regional, and national levels, and attend music degree programs (classical voice, musical theater, music education, etc.) at Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, Oklahoma City University, Brigham Young University, and Central Washington University, among others. Ms. Thoreson is an enthusiastic member of NATS (the National Association of Teachers of Singing), and is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for choral programs, festivals, and vocal competitions throughout the Northwest. She is also a proud member of AGMA (the American Guild of Musical Artists).
"It remains only to praise alto Laura Beckel Thoreson for one of the loveliest voices in the Northwest."
"The real highlight was Laura Thoreson's radiant solo... It was strong, colorful, expressive, and absolutely golden -- one of the very best mezzo voices that I've ever heard in Portland."
"Ms. Thoreson’s vocal work continues to dazzle."
“Dido’s Lament”...the climax of the opera...is a great showpiece for mezzo soprano. Laura Thoreson did it proud. This is a singer to be reckoned with — remember her."
"Thoreson is without doubt a leading alto in the Portland metropolitan area. She glided effortlessly, with supreme breath management...without a hitch."
"Laura Thoreson, a new voice in town,
"...elegant, alluring voice..."
"Mezzo-soprano Laura Thoreson's solos were rich-voiced and well-phrased."
"Mezzo-soprano Laura Thoreson was superb as Orfeo, fully invested both in Gluck’s highly expressive and taxing music and in the character..."