Katherine Arthur has a soft spot for risk takers.
“Nothing moves me more — and I mean this sincerely — than to see someone taking that chance and loving what they’re doing,” the voice teacher said. “To see the change on their face (when they realize) ‘Oh my gosh, that is so cool. I was really singing. I was really using my instrument,’ that really moves me.”
Arthur, who marks her second year teaching at the San Luis Coastal Adult School in September, has had plenty of opportunities to witness that expression as of late. And she wants to see more of it.
On Sunday, Arthur and Cal Poly pianist Susan Azaret Davies will team up for a fundraiser concert at Trinity United Methodist Church in Los Osos. Proceeds benefit the Adult School’s scholarship fund, which will provide financial aid to seniors and other would-be students.
Arthur, who holds a master’s degree in voice from UC Santa Barbara, has been teaching at Cal Poly since 2002.
When budget cuts canceled her singing class for non-music majors, the soprano turned to the Adult School, part of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, to fill the hole in her schedule.
“It was the perfect fit,” she said, recalling how the school gave her enough independence and support to craft the ideal curriculum. “They really just rolled out the red carpet for me. It’s been a good, good relationship.”
According to Judy Adkison, administrative assistant at the Adult School, Arthur’s singing classes proved popular with students from the start.
“We started off with one class (and) it immediately filled up,” Adkison recalled. “She’s such a professional, and she’s good at what she does. They love her.”
Now Arthur teaches five two-hour classes a week, working with 16 to 18 students at a time. Although some are experienced singers, others are just starting out.
“They were told by a parent or a music teacher at some point — terrible, terrible — that they shouldn’t ever open their mouths and sing,” said Arthur, who doesn’t agree with such views. “There’s no judgment in this class. It’s literally about finding out about your voice and exploring it.”
In her Adult School singing classes, she said. “There’s no grade, there’s no homework. There are no standards that they have to reach. It’s all the fun stuff, and not any of the other stuff.”
Accompanied by pianist Lacey McNamara, Arthur’s students work through a wide-ranging repertoire that includes folk songs, Italian art songs and musical theater numbers. “Everything from Cole Porter to Thomas Morely,” Arthur said.
Arthur, who’s trained in the Alexander technique, also works with singers to reduce tension and increase their mind-body awareness.
“I get so much from these classes,” she said. That’s why she’s eager to give back, through a series of fundraising concerts.
In February, Arthur joined pianist Louise King for a concert featuring music by Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Hugo Wolf.
Sunday’s program focuses on 20th century American art songs.
Among the featured pieces is “The Ballad of the Railroads,” composed in 1944 by modern Austrian-American composer Ernst Krenek.
According to Arthur, Krenek wrote the autobiographical “Ballad” while traveling from St. Paul, Minn., where he taught at Hamline University, to California to start a new life. “He was quitting a very steady job and following his passion to become a composer,” she explained.
The poignant piece is paired with a slide presentation featuring images of trains from the 1940s.
Arthur and Azaret Davies will also perform six songs by American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes, all composed between 1911 and 1912. Influenced by the French Impressionists but sung in English, they take their texts from poems including Oscar Wilde’s “Les Ballons” and John Tabb’s “The Water-Lily.”
“One of my (goals) is to present music that is really valuable, but it’s not music that is heard every day, that is performed every day,” Arthur said, who likes her concerts to have an educational component.
Arthur is already planning a third fundraiser during the Adult School’s fall term, possibly in November. And more may be on the way.
“I really love teaching my classes and feeling like I’m doing what I need to be doing,” she said. “I’m following my passions. It’s fun.”
IF YOU GO
3 p.m. Sunday
Trinity United Methodist Church, 490 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos
$15, $20 at the door
549-1222 or http://ae.slcusd.org
Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907. Stay updated by following @shelikestowatch on Twitter.