The keynote speaker for the 2024 Roy H. Umble Master Class is Allan Rudy-Froese, a professor at Anabaptist-Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart and a certified vocal coach. He will present his address, “Learning to Use Your Voice Well,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Umble Center.

The Master Class celebrates the life of Roy H. Umble, longtime Goshen College faculty member who was deeply involved in both radio and theater. 

Rudy-Froese’s certification as a Designated Linklater Teacher, comes after studying under Kristin Linklater, vocal coach for renowned actors including Patrick Stewart and Alfre Woodard. 

“We are delighted to welcome Allan as a highly trained specialist in the voice,” said Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication. 

Rudy-Froese said that his vocal work “started as more of a hobby than anything.” He first met Linklater on sabbatical in Scotland, where he worked with her for two weeks in 2016. He earned his certification after a three-and-a-half year process of taking courses from Linklater herself and her students.

Stoltzfus said, “I knew of Allan’s study in Scotland with the Linklater Institute and thought, ‘how fantastic if we could have him spend a couple of days with us!’”

Rudy-Froese’s plan for the workshops is “to show a little bit about what the Linklater work is — its physicality, and to root the voice in the breath where it needs to be rooted.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” he continued. “It’s just a lot of playing. It’s kind of entertaining to do this in an academic setting because we’re so used to thinking about things all the time … this is a bit of an escape from that. It’s a way of connecting the brain to the body.”

The communication department and theater department take turns each year inviting the keynote speaker. This year, it was up to the communication department and Stoltzfus, who reached out to Rudy-Froese.

While the main event is the master class on Tuesday night, Rudy-Froese will also be working with a variety of staff and students. After opening with an informal lunch at noon on Tuesday, he plans to lead a faculty workshop that afternoon before the Master Class. On Wednesday, he will hold workshops with two classes: Oral Communication at 9 a.m. and History of Theater at 11 a.m.

Rudy-Froese described the value of vocal knowledge: “We judge people in microseconds when we bump into someone on the street. We judge in microseconds after hearing their first word,” he said.

“It doesn’t take much,” he continued, “for people to just start thinking about it a little bit more … the voice is connected to our very selves and connected to all the work we do. We conceal and reveal with our voices.”