"I believe passionately in the power of the arts to teach, and plan to continue my career as a teaching artist, working with arts-integration in classrooms and afterschool programs."

Kiersten Drumm Whitehead ’98, a second-generation alumna, is singing Bucknell’s praises … among other things.

The mezzo-soprano is a founding member of the Forgotten Opera Company, a Washington, D.C./Baltimore–based production company dedicated to making opera accessible to everyone. She also works full time in the education department for Imagination Stage, the largest youth theatre on the East Coast, where she heads up musical theatre programs and teaches students from 3 to 18 years classes in music, theatre and early childhood development.

“My passion for teaching has grown since I left Bucknell,” says Whitehead. “I believe passionately in the power of the arts to teach, and plan to continue my career as a teaching artist, working with arts-integration in classrooms and afterschool programs.”

Her work with both the Forgotten Opera Company and Imagination Stage have provided Whitehead with the ideal platform to make opera and the arts accessible to new generations and new audiences.

When she is not teaching, Whitehead sings with local D.C. companies and has most recently been doing oratorio work with local choirs and symphonies. “I especially enjoy ‘trouser roles,’ where I play a young man, because it really stretches me acting-wise,” she says. Her favorite role to date is that of Cherubino from The Marriage of Figaro.

Whitehead credits her work with the Bucknell Opera Company and Professors William Payn and Catherine Payn for helping her choose her path as singer, leader and teacher. “Both Dr. Payn and Dr. Payn had a huge influence on my career path, providing excellent role models as professors and professional musicians,” she says.

And her parents share in the credit for helping her choose Bucknell. John ’70 and Susan Hood Drumm ’71 met in Chapel Choir. With that family history Whitehead admits, “I had been saying I would go to Bucknell since I was 3. It felt like home from the moment I moved onto campus.”

She and her husband, Todd, live in Riverdale, Md., where they have both taken on a new role as parents with the birth of their son, Jeremy, in August.

Posted Spring 2009

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