ProgramMusicVoice Works

About Voice Works

June 25-30, 2024

Singing opens doors to other cultures and languages, and it makes you feel good! The combination of world-class artists and passionate singers creates a rare and safe community for all levels of participation. Through close observation and personal experimentation you’ll learn about breathing, phrasing, dynamics, how to make your voice blend, and what makes your voice unique.The workshop is open to everyone.

Differing levels of ability are expected, and the faculty will respond to participant need accordingly. If you’re on the beginning end of the spectrum, you’ll find an ample slate of classes to address your needs; likewise, advanced singers will find plenty to challenge them. If you can’t help singing, or if you’ve always wanted to sing with others but for whatever reason you don’t, you should plan to be at this workshop.

Experience Voice Works

Vocal workshop at Centrum in Port Townsend

Registration is Now Open!

June 25 - 30, 2024 

Partial list of 2024 Voice Works Faculty - more coming!

Photo of Queen Esther

Queen Esther

One of country and Americana music’s most fascinating artists, Queen Esther’s range stretches far and wide creatively. Bold and outspoken, sweet and generous in spirit, her music shines a light on violence against Black Americans, her passion for country music, and the myths that have haunted the South since long before the Civil War. She’s a vocalist, songwriter, lyricist, musician, solo performer, playwright, librettist, essayist, actor, TED speaker and producer.…

Photo of Rich Hill

Rich Hill

Rich Hill is from Wyoming. He began learning Gaelic when he was seven years old from a Scottish immigrant who had come to the Rocky Mountains. He met a “new family,” the Gaels of Vancouver, in 1989. He has been heavily immersed in Gaelic since that time, teaching and singing in Scottish Gaelic. He is a founder of Slighe nan Gaidheal and Féis Seattle, and is also well-known in Seattle’s early music scene.

Photo of Max Malone

Max Malone

A life in music is practically unavoidable when you’re born into a family of musicians. Max Malone was weaned on country music in the rural wilds of Ontario, through both the radio and his mother’s work as a background vocalist on the Tommy Hunter show. By the age of twelve he was performing as a singer and bassist with his family band on a weekly gig in Toronto’s Cabbagetown.…

Photo of Sarina Partridge

Sarina Partridge

Sarina Partridge is a musician, song-leader, educator and activist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She feels most alive when learning, creating and sharing songs — especially songs that grow out of time spent in wild places. Sarina sings with a wide variety of music projects: community song-leading of her own original songs; harmony-rich original music with folk trio Heartwood; performing and teaching vocal harmony folk music music she’s studied with master teachers around the world; and performing and teaching of Eastern European and Yiddish song – her own musical lineage.…

Photo of Dawn Pemberton

Dawn Pemberton

Dawn Pemberton has deep musical roots that take her powerful voice from gospel and soul to jazz, funk and world music. She has become a staple of the Vancouver music scene and can often be found tearin’ it up as a vocalist, teacher, facilitator, choir director and “go to girl” for live performances and studio sessions.…

Photo of Karin Plato

Karin Plato

Canadian vocalist and composer Karin Plato came to jazz almost by accident. The music she heard in her formative years was the rock and pop music of the day and the classical music she studied from a young age. She didn’t get the “jazz bug” until she was in her early 30’s and that’s when her music career really began when she made the move from central Canada to the West Coast.

Photo of Pharis Romero

Pharis Romero

Artistic Director, Voice Works

Pharis has been singing and playing music her whole life. An early student of classical and country, she grew up performing with her family’s band and learning the songs and stories that made her want to dig deeper. These days she performs mostly with her husband Jason, and is equally at home disappearing into an old-time jam as she is singing on stage or teaching the joy of song and sound.

Photo of The Chapin Sisters

The Chapin Sisters

The Chapin Sisters carry on a proud family musical legacy: Father Tom Chapin is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, legendary late uncle Harry Chapin was an artist and activist best known for his #1 hit “Cat’s in the Cradle”, and grandfather Jim Chapin literally wrote the book on how to play the drumkit. For nearly 20 years these masters of blood harmony have garnered critical acclaim by forging a distinctive musical imprint by blending dynamically complex vocal harmonies and folk-influenced melodies with dark, wryly sarcastic lyrical content.…

Photo of Moira Smiley

Moira Smiley


Her clarion voice and joyous, embodied performances have carried Moira and her songs around the planet and inspired millions of harmony singers to sing her songs. She’s immersed herself in early American, Irish and East European vocal traditions and seeks to honor the many powerful, cultural roles of singing beyond stage and microphone

Photo of Miss Tess

Miss Tess

Miss Tess has always been known for creating an eclectic array of vintage blues, country, and jazz sounds. Currently residing in Nashville, she finds no shortage of inspiration in the roots scene there. However varied Tess’ music can be, front and center sits her voice that has been described as “alternately seductive and sexy, and a pure joy to listen to” (Pop Matters).…

Photo of Yoseff Tucker

Yoseff Tucker

Yoseff’s early life exposure to traditional bluegrass and American roots music came courtesy of his grandfather who moved to Central California from the Ozarks in the early 20th century. His first guitar came to him while he was still in diapers and an appreciation for music laid a great foundation in his life.

Photo of Melody Walker

Melody Walker

Melody Walker is a songwriter, producer, performer, and fervent believer that songs can change the world. Best known for her writing with Molly Tuttle, Sierra Ferrell, Della Mae and her own band Front Country, Melody’s post-pandemic recalibration has found her setting real roots down in her home of Nashville, co-writing with her talented neighbors, and hosting her weekly writers’ round, Writers’ Kitchen.…

Partial list of class descriptions for 2024:

Sarina Partridge: Around-the-World Harmony
An energizing and uplifting choral experience featuring lush and beautiful music from many singing traditions around the world. Music from Georgia, South Africa, Corsica, the Balkans, and Eastern European Jewish folk music. No experience or sheet music reading is necessary. We will focus on building a unified ensemble sound, as well as intonation, pronunciation and style.

Sarina Partridge: Songs to Build Community
We will learn original harmony songs for building community: for choirs, community groups, protests, around the table, at bedsides, at the park... songs that get any group singing in harmony together before you know it! All songs taught by ear and all voices welcome

Tell Me A Story - Queen Esther
Singing is really storytelling, so how do you tell a story as a vocalist? We will explore the idea of storytelling in performance, discover vocalists who will guide us closer to what this means and begin to develop our unique language, while leaning into who we are.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink! - Queen Esther
We will go further in the round with a daily Q&A, sharing songs and information, teaching technique essentials, practical application and advice, and much more.

Gaelic Songs and Singing for Daily Life – Rich Hill
An overview of Gaelic singing, including lullabies, work songs, vocal dance music, songs related to piping. Students shouldn't worry about having any Gaelic prior to the classes.  Rich will help everyone with pronunciation and most of the songs will be simple with lots of repetitive lines. He will also include some Scottish and Irish songs in English (e.g. Robert Burns, etc.) to give people's brains a break from singing in a foreign language. Rich says “When I first started singing in Gaidhlig I was thrilled to discover how song accompanied the life of the Gaels all day long. In the Scottish Gaelic song class we'll be taking a look at the following types of songs: ”

  • lullabies - simple, soothing songs...some with a fairy origin!
  • work songs - reaping songs, sailing songs, and lots of songs connected to cloth production.
  • vocal dance music or "port-a-beul" - dance tunes and other fun, fast ditties.
  • songs related to piping or "piobaireachd songs" - words to accompany the themes of "classical" bagpipe compositions.

Gaelic Singing for the Natural and Supernatural World – Rich Hill
In the same style as the Gaelic Songs for Daily Life class, with natural and supernatural themes to the songs!

  • seal songs - haunting melodies for the seal-people, beloved by the sea mammals themselves!
  • bird & weather songs - imitations of bird calls and a charm against hail storms!
  • songs of the supernatural - no class in Gaelic song would be complete without mention of ghosts, selkies, and the Good People...

Vocal Jazz – There’s More Than Meets the Eye! - Karin Plato
Exploring the beauty of jazz standards written in the 30’s and 40’s. Let’s look at some songs you may already know and try some updates to suit a 2024 repertoire. Let’s dive deeper into what we see on the page: the melody, the harmony, and the lyrics given to us in these great standards are the foundation elements in some ways. Now, what might we wish to add or take away that will make the song come to life for us personally? What kind of groove? What kind of tempo? It’s a fun adventure!  Karin will share several songs with the class, some familiar faves while other may be new discoveries to add to your collection of songs.    

Masterclass with Karin Plato
Come to Masterclass to sing your song and discover additional ideas to shape and shift your performance. We each sing from within a familiar “comfort box” and sometimes that can be improved upon or added to with a mentor/teacher’s observations and guidance. There is no “right and wrong,” merely different ideas as we identify all of the possibilities and try to best “serve the song.” You are welcome to share songs from any genre for the Masterclasses.     

Roots Vocal Technique – Melody Walker
Find your healthy holler or your bluegrass belt. Volume, power, and effortless control for sustainable unamplified singing. Mini-lesson demos for those who volunteer.

Singer-Songwriter Superpowers – Melody Walker
What makes your voice unique and how can your future and current songs highlight it? An affirming, exploratory sharing session with actionable ideas for performing songwriters.

Folksong Rhizome – Moira Smiley
I've spent the last year with a collection of favorite anglo-celtic songs that form the root system of my musical identity.  In this class I want two things: 1. You each bring a beloved folk song (traditional or favorite folk songwriter) for us to play with - musically arranging, adding embodiment & storytelling. 2. We’ll learn a song-a-day from Moira's ‘Rhizome' and do the same work in looking at / building arrangements individually AND as a class collective.

Beautiful Dissonance – Moira Smiley
We'll learn early folk song from Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine (sacred and secular, single melody and up to 4-part harmony) and the ornaments, crooked rhythms and timbre that make them special.

The Art of 2-Part Sibling Blood Harmony - Abigail & Lily Chapin
Learn duet style 2-part harmony from listening to, studying and singing classic arrangements by the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, the Davis Sisters and more.

Harmony Arranging for Songwriters - Abigail & Lily Chapin
Learn methods of writing harmony parts for original songs- ideas of how to construct harmony arrangements to improve and support the melody, meaning and message of your original material.

Doo-Wop Workshop! - Dawn Pemberton
We’ll learn a few doo-wop classics as a group and bop-shoo-wop all over camp . We will immerse ourselves in the style and also experiment with singing these gems in small groups for the full doo-wop experience!

Day 1: Vocal Care 101 - Dawn Pemberton
In this elective we will cover the basics of good vocal hygiene and discuss how technique impacts vocal health. We’ll also explore how great technique leads to greater expression, access to a wider range of vocal tones and colours and stylistic effects. You will have a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts and leave with a few helpful tools and methods to create your own simple warm up and cool down routine. Please feel free to bring your questions!

Day 2: Songs of Freedom - Dawn Pemberton
Music has been a catalyst and soulful companion for many social movements around the world. Together we will learn the songs that have ignited hearts, inspired change, and instilled courage in those wishing to create a just, equal, and hopeful existence for all!

Day 3: Vocal Jam - Dawn Pemberton
Let’s play and see what our voices can do through collective vocal improvisation! This class will inspire spur of the moment creativity and joyful discovery in action! We'll create spontaneous vocal grooves and vamps, have fun with odd meters, riffs, and explore new tones and colours, and ways of weaving story and song together. If you dig Bobby McFerrin or Rhiannon’s work then you will dig this class.

Day 4: Beat Boot Camp - Dawn Pemberton
Ready to beef up your rhythm muscles? Rhythm is a fundamental element of music that influences and informs melody and pitch. This class will help strengthen your sense of time and rhythm. Together we will groove and “la la la” our way through co-operative, fun and funky a Capella songs, steps and rhythms from around the world. Be in control of the rhythm, be in charge of the beat and watch as your musical world opens up. Guaranteed you will leave energized, inspired and hungry for more. This program is for all levels, no experience is required to have a good time and learn something new.           

Bluegrass Trios – Yoseff Tucker

These harmony classes are meant to be continuous, but you are also welcome to drop in throughout the week. In each class, we also cover techniques for how to better blend our voices together into one.       

Day 1: Bluegrass trio harmony – the traditional stack
We’re going to learn to sing in a bluegrass trio, in the “default” way, where there’s a lead singer and then a harmony part above and a harmony part below. We’ll learn the song as a class and then break off into trios. There are few things musically more fulfilling than singing chords with two other voices.

Day 2: Bluegrass trio harmony – the high stack
We’re going to learn a bluegrass trio together where the lead singer is the lowest voice, and there are two harmony parts above the lead. This stack is great for those mournful numbers with powerful choruses and was used a lot by the Stanley Brothers.

Day 3:  Bluegrass trio harmony – the low stack
We’re going to learn a bluegrass trio together where the lead singer is the highest voice in the stack, with two harmony parts below. This beautiful style was popularized by the Osborne Brothers.           

Day 4: Bluegrass trio harmony - harmony “crosses” or “jumps”
In this class, we’re going to learn how to change the harmony stack temporarily for great effect. We’ll learn a couple of examples that will help solidify our understanding of the harmony parts and help train our ear to hear when we’re doubling up on a part.   

Bluegrass lead singing – Yoseff Tucker

Day 1: Bluegrass lead singing – the crooner
This is going to be a deep listening and analyzing session on Lester Flatt, who set the blueprint for a lot of the “crooning” bluegrass singing style. In this style, we sing in the upper middle part of our range and we use phrasing, slides, and tone to ornament our singing. We’ll practice these techniques so you can take what you love and apply it to your own singing style.

Day 2: Bluegrass lead singing – the belters
This is going to be a deep listening and analyzing session on bluegrass “belters” such as Bill Monroe and Hazel Dickens, who sing at the top of their range and use their sheer and raw power to move you. We’ll talk about modifying vowels and other techniques to help you belt it out!

Day 3: Bluegrass lead singing - Carter Stanley
Carter Stanley (of the Stanley Brothers) sings in a heart-wrenchingly plaintive style. This is another deep listening and analyzing session where we’ll dig into the subtle nuance of Carter’s vocal style. We’ll practice singing in this style with the goal of taking what you love about this style and making it your own.

Day 4: Bluegrass lead singing - Keith Whitley
This will be a deep listening and analyzing session on Keith Whitley’s singing style during his time with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Keith has a beautiful somber tone but also uses runs and slides in very effective ways to ornament his singing. We’ll cover a couple of techniques to effectively deliver runs in the bluegrass style.

It Might Get Loud! - Max Malone
This class will start by finding our individual chest voice range. A natural tendency is to close down and choke off notes as they get louder (higher in pitch), we will focus on physically opening up our throats and chests to fully express the top of our range through warmups and gentle exploration of the outer limits.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery - Max Malone
Each class will begin with listening to one of the great singers in recorded history and then attempting to embody their voices. This is more of an exercise in forensic listening and tone generation than a boot camp for tribute artists, but all are welcome.

Resonance, Range, Breathing and Recovery - Pharis Romero
Explore a different set of skills in each class, finding ways to support and expand your singing. We’ll make sounds both strange and beautiful. Body functionality, vocal care, recovery and health will all be part of the discussion and the practice. 


Workshop tuition includes admission to everything, including great seats at all public performances. Your meal ticket is good for three meals per day.

2024 Costs

  • Adult Tuition: $525
  • Additional Family Member (sibling, spouse, child; limit of two): $260
  • Youth (under 22): $260
  • Canadian Resident: $395US
  • Private dorm room: $290
  • All meals: $300
  • Lunches only (4): $85
  • Airport shuttle (optional): $120 round trip or $60 one way

Centrum has a variety of ways to be able to attend our workshops even if you’re on a budget. If you need financial assistance, Centrum has a robust scholarship program awarded on a first-come, first-served; and as-needed basis. Apply online as you register. Please note that except in rare cases, scholarships are available for tuition only. Centrum requires a $100 deposit of scholarship applicants, which is fully refundable before May 25 if you are unable to attend. If you are interested in volunteering, or a work trade position, please contact Peter McCracken at peter@centrum (dot) org.

Room & Board
Most participants stay in private dormitory rooms at Fort Worden. There are a limited number of double rooms, that is, rooms with two twin beds. If you’d like a double, please request one, and list another registered participant who has signed up for room and board in order to share that room. It is first come, first served.

Meals are served at Fort Worden Commons. The first meal is dinner on June 25; the last meal is breakfast on June 30.

Cancellation/Refund Policy
Cancellation policy:
All but $50 is refundable if cancellation is made on or before May 25, 2024.


Apply online as you register. Please note that except in rare cases, scholarships are available for tuition only. Centrum requires a $100 deposit of scholarship applicants, which is fully refundable before May 23 if you are unable to attend. If you are interested in volunteering, or a work trade position, please contact Peter McCracken at peter@centrum (dot) org.

Room & Board
Most participants stay in private dormitory rooms at Fort Worden. There are a limited number of double rooms, that is, rooms with two twin beds. If you’d like a double, please request one, and list another registered participant who has signed up for room and board in order to share that room. It is first come, first served.

Meals are served at Fort Worden Commons. The first meal is dinner on June 27; the last meal is breakfast on July 2.

Cancellation policy:
All but $50 is refundable if cancellation is made on or before May 31, 2024. No refunds are available after May 31, 2024.

Voice Works shuttle schedule:
Arrive – Tuesday, June 25, 2024, pick-up at SeaTac airport, 2:30pm, Pacific Time.
Depart – Sunday, June 30, 2024, depart Centrum at Port Townsend, 9am, Pacific Time.

If you have any more questions about Voice Works, please contact Peter McCracken at 360-385-3102, x127, or peter@centrum (dot) org.

Find more answers - Centrum FAQs

Most of our workshops are family events, and we welcome musicians of all ages and abilities to participate. 

If you are under 18, you must be accompanied by a registered adult. Please register the adult first, as you will need a confirmation number.

Here is how you’ll spend your time:

Check-in starts at 4pm at the Centrum office. Dinner is served at 6pm in the Commons. 

SHORT FORT WORDEN TOUR – Find out where classes are held, which buildings we’ll be using, and get a general feel for the Fort Worden campus. The tour ends at the Wheeler Theater in time for orientation. Meet behind 204, we’ll depart at 7:10pm.

An extensive welcome and orientation session begins at 7:30pm in the Wheeler Theater. Bring this book and a pencil, and your badge. We will introduce each of the musicians who are on staff, ask them to sing a little, and to talk about what they’ll be teaching. We’ll also talk about the workshop schedule, bring any fresh information, and try to get your questions answered.

General Schedule

9:30: warm ups
10:00 - 11:50:  class session #1 - all faculty teaching concurrently
12:00 - 1:00:  lunch
1:00 - 2:00: siesta or practice
2:00 - 3:00:  class session #2
3:30 - 4:30:  class session #3
4:45 - 5:45:  wildcard/ALL CAMP SING/open mic
6:00 - 7:00:  dinner

Mornings: (for detailed class descriptions, see the "Class Descriptions" tab)

Karin Plato: Vocal Jazz – There’s More Than Meets the Eye!

Melody Walker: Roots Vocal Technique

Moira Smiley: Folksong Rhizome

Abigail & Lily Chapin: the Art of 2-Part Sibling Blood Harmony

Dawn Pemberton: Doo-Wop Workshop

Yoseff Tucker: Bluegrass Trios

Max Malone: It Might Get Loud!

Sarina Partridge: Around-the-World Harmony

Miss Tess: Sing Western Swing

Rich Hill: Gaelic Songs and Singing for Daily Life

Queen Esther

A typical afternoon would look like this:

2:00 - 3:00

Max Malone: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Abigail & Lily Chapin: Harmony Arranging for Original and Traditional Songs

Dawn Pemberton: Dawn's Variety Pack

Karin Plato: Masterclass

Moira Smiley: Beautiful Dissonance

Pharis Romero: Resonance, Range, Breathing and Recovery

3:30 - 4:30

Melody Walker: Singer-Songwriter Superpowers

Miss Tess: Exploring the Hank Williams Songbook

Rich Hill: Gaelic Singing for the Natural and Supernatural World

Sarina Partridge: Songs to Build Community

Yoseff Tucker - Bluegrass lead singing

Karin Plato: Masterclass

Queen Esther


after that - open mics, group singing, wildcard workshops.


Wheeler Theater Vocal Showcase #1
Thursday, June 27, 7:30 p.m., The Wheeler Theater
Tickets: $30
Wheeler Theater Vocal Showcase #2
Friday, June 28, 7:30 p.m., The Wheeler Theater
Tickets: $30


Honky Tonk Polka Dot Dance
Saturday, June 29, 8 p.m., USO Building
Tickets $15 (sold at the door only)
...with a beer garden and a nice wooden dance floor!



Voice Works Facts

  • Artistic Director: Pharis Romero
  • Established in 2005
  • What you’ll learn: Deep listening, how to harmonize, vocal anatomy, blending voices, stage presence, finding your key, phrasing, vowels, pitch, and emoting
  • Forms: blues, ballads, honky tonk, bossa nova, gypsy swing, sacred harp, folk, and songs from other cultures, such as Cajun and Mexican

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