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Guided By Voices

Audrey Pernell ’04 is a classical, pop, and theater voice teacher in Santiago, Chile. Here’s how she made it from Swarthmore to the Southern Hemisphere.

Early Days

After stints in the Philadelphia and New York theater worlds, Pernell was accepted by a couple of universities for graduate work in classical voice. However, she realized that opera was too narrow a niche for her.

New Directions

Instead, she went to massage school, figuring, “Any day job [I do] should teach me more about my instrument: the body.” Pernell spent the next four years studying and practicing massage and saving money for voice workshops abroad. She also completed vinyasa yoga training to “start cultivating pedagogic skills and give my hands a break from all those massages!” 

Pivot Point

Four months before she began her self-designed voice performance and pedagogy degree from Antioch University, she met her future husband, Andrés Zará, a Chilean native, through an artistic collaboration.


After completing her degree, Pernell moved to Chile and now teaches singing and vocal improvisation to actors, dancers, and singers and works at three universities and a private academy in Santiago. She is also in the final stages of completing her Roy Hart Theatre certification, inspired by former Swarthmore voice teacher Jonathan Hart Makwaia, who also has that prestigious accreditation. Pernell and her husband also run a studio, Rumbos Laboratorio Artístico Vocal, for their own artistic endeavors—including their experimental vocal quartet, La Tromba (The Whirlwind)—and voice lessons and workshops.