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Students, Fans Adore Him
Photo by Reed Hutchinson

Students, Fans Adore Him

Vladimir Chernov's lifelong love affair with singing began in a small village near the city of Krasnodar, some 1,400 kilometers south of Moscow. Now he is a professor of vocal studies in the Department of Music at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

It's all about unusual sensations, about strengthening and coordination of muscle, of diaphragm, about opening up your larynx, relaxing your tongue.

This article was first published by UCLA Today Online.

By Judy Lin

GOOGLE VLADIMIR CHERNOV and you'll come up with about 19,800 hits: YouTube videos of some of the more than 45 major roles he has sung in nearly every premier opera house in the world, from Figaro in "Il barbiere di Siviglia" at London's Covent Garden to Miller in "Luisa Mille" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Links to his managers in London, Spain, Italy, Austria and the United States. And news of his latest role as professor of vocal studies in the Department of Music at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where he earns rave reviews from students and colleagues alike.

Chernov hadn't been seeking a teaching post when he was invited to campus in 2005 as a Regents' Lecturer. He coached young singers in both private and class lessons, taught two master classes — which were open to the public — and performed in recital.

"He completely won over the hearts and minds of the faculty and the students," said Ian Krouse, chair of the music department. In 2006, Chernov accepted the department's offer of a tenured teaching post that enables him to continue his international singing career while serving as a mentor to those who will follow.

Chernov's lifelong love affair with singing began in a small village near the city of Krasnodar, some 1,400 kilometers south of Moscow. His grandmother taught him to sing and, when he was only 6 or 7 years old, told his father, "Nikolay, this is an extraordinary boy. He is very talented, and he is not going to live here in this village. He will fly away very soon."

Chernov did not, however, fly immediately to music. Only after studying furniture design — his passion was woodworking — in college and serving in the military did he take exams for musical college. He trained at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, and later at the La Scala School in Italy, where he mastered the Italianate style of operatic performance. He credits Tamara Denisova, with whom he studied in Moscow two decades ago, with the teaching techniques he now imparts to students of his own: the process of training one's entire body to produce and guide sound.

"[Students] have to trust because you cannot see it, it's invisible," he said. "It's all about unusual sensations, about strengthening and coordination of muscle, of diaphragm, about opening up your larynx, relaxing your tongue. It's about anatomy. It's about physiology. It's about psychiatry."

"Vladimir is a beloved member of our department," said Krouse. "I don't think I've ever seen a teacher as charismatic as he is with the students — as physically and emotionally involved as he is with them."

Chernov also continues to perform. In March, he appeared in Moscow. Future projects may include "Don Giovanni" in Spain. And on April 29, he will deliver a solo recital of art songs and Russian and Italian arias at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.

"This is my life," he said. "I am singing, I am teaching, and sometimes I see my family." (His wife, Olga, also a singer, and son Vladimir live in New York.)

"I love to teach — not because I am 'important,' but teaching for me means more experience for me. I am a master student, still learning myself, every day."

For more on his recital, call (310) 825-4761 or visit Music Department Events.

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