BETHESDA – Terry Eberhardt originally did not want anything to do with musical theatre but today, he’s a beloved instructor in the subject for many of Montgomery County’s youth.
Eberhardt credited hearing an opera singer perform after high school with influencing his career choice.
“I always knew I wanted to work in music, but when I heard that singer, I thought ‘I want to sound like that,’” Eberhardt said.
Eberhardt attended the Peabody Conservatory, one of the country’s most prestigious music schools, and later earned a Master’s degree in Opera Performance from the University of Maryland.
“When I got out of school, I was a bit of a music snob, and turned up my nose at musical theatre,” Eberhardt said. “But slowly, I fell madly in love with it.”
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Eberhardt began his teaching career in Montgomery County, and later established the choral program at Marriotts Ridge High School in Howard County, where he was named Teacher of the Year in 2008.
Through his wife, a fellow opera singer, Eberhardt was introduced to Rolando Sanz, the artistic director of Young Artists of America, a program at the Strathmore Music Center which provides intensive training and mentorship in musical theatre for school-age students.
YAA was launched in 2012. Eberhardt joined its staff as summer camp director last year.
“The summer camp gives students the opportunity to live, eat, and breathe musical theatre for two weeks,” Sanz said. “They get Monday through Friday classes to boost their skills in dance, acting, and musical repertoire.” Sanz praised Eberhardt’s leadership of the camp.
“Terry is incredibly charismatic, he has an instant rapport with our students, he treats them like adults,” Sanz said.
“I love working with kids because this is an impressionable time in their lives when they can be instilled with a deep appreciation for music,” Eberhardt said.
“Classical music is a dying art form, so it’s important that we educate the younger generation. The skills we teach them here are applicable to their lives, whether they become music professionals or pursue any other career path. It was deeply rewarding when students from last year’s camp came back and told me how much more confident they were because of the experience.”
Eberhardt said that he would like to expand the summer camp’s curriculum in coming years.
“There’s really nothing else like this in the Baltimore-DC corridor, so we have something unique that should be shared with more people,” Eberhardt said. “We also have a number of wonderful partners who contribute so that underprivileged kids can participate in and benefit from our courses.”
“I’ve learned about my musicality and how I can grow from Terry,” said Adalia Jimenez, a YAA student who attends James H. Blake High school and has performed the National Anthem at Washington Nationals games.
“Once, while rehearsing for “Children of Eden,” which was a hard show, Terry said ‘Tomatoes, I’m throwing tomatoes!’ We knew that he wasn’t getting mad, he was just telling us we needed to do better. I’m grateful that I met him; everybody should meet someone like Terry.”
In addition to his work at YAA, Eberhardt and his wife operate Red Bridge Studios in Savage, Maryland, which provides instruction for emerging music, theater, and film students.
More information on YAA’s programs is available at www.youngartistsamerica.org.