What was your first impression of NEC? How has that changed since you’ve been here?
When I arrived at NEC to audition I was overwhelmed. I thought: What a beautiful place, this is the dream conservatory! Then, when I learned more about the history, faculty, students and alumnae, I felt sure that I would never be accepted to such a prestigious place. Fortunately I was wrong about that, but I was right that this is an amazing place, which has become my second home. Every day I’m more convinced that this is the Conservatory of my dreams.
Tell me about your musical backstory… What got you to where you are today?
I grew up in Colombia, surrounded by the traditional rhythms of my country. Music has been always been a big part of my life. I had my first solo at the age of 5 in my kindergarten!
My family loves and supports music. My sister is a professional musician and my aunts play important roles in the Fundacion National Batuta – a program similar to El Sistema, created to bring music to children and youth, focusing on social justice and cultural diversity. It was here that my love for music began, while I played and sang Colombian rhythms such as Bambucos, Pasillos, and Porros.
At the end of high school, I still wasn’t sure what career I would pursue. I was considering everything from veterinarian, to psychologist, to chemist, or even the field of medicine. But I knew deep down that music is an extraordinary art form that goes straight to your heart, and that even though everybody has a voice and is capable of singing, not a lot of people take the path of becoming a professional singer. This is why I finally decided to pursue music, and I was lucky to be accepted to the Conservatorio de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and parallel to my academic life I sang with the biggest professional operas, orchestras, and philharmonics in Colombia before the age of 24.
What is the best thing about life as a vocal performance major?
What I love about singing is that it is an art form that merges many other arts. Opera specifically calls for different languages and styles to reach and communicate with the audience. What I like about this life is that I need to find the right strategies to approach the music and the language so that I can connect with the audience. By doing that I’ve been able to reach heights I never would have felt possible.
Who has been your favorite teacher? Why?
I find every NEC faculty member amazing. I can highlight professor Bradley Williams, my voice teacher, as my favorite one, because he has guided me through this process of becoming a professional singer with courage, love, patience and his own example. He is a great musician and an outstanding human being. Joining his studio has been a life-changing experience for me.
What makes NEC unique? Why did you choose here over other schools?
The main points for me were my voice teacher, the Opera Department, and the opportunities that NEC offers. NEC has a great faculty, and a tradition of guiding great artists to find their own voice and to help them develop professional careers worldwide. Teachers here help you to gain new content and techniques, and to improve your own voice, without putting you in a box. Also, Jordan Hall is one of the top music halls in the world, so you can experience performances from great companies right here on campus. Additionally, Boston is home to Yo-Yo Ma, John Williams, Handel and Haydn Society, and the Boston Lyric Opera and is geographically close to other important cultural places on the East coast, such as New York.
What is the biggest challenge you’re proud to have overcome here?
I’m proud of accepting this adventure of finding the best me every day. The process of being an NEC student has made me grow as a better musician and human being, exploring the art of singing. And performing Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), as Tamino, has been the most challenging opera for me, and we did an outstanding job with it.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
NEC is the place where dreams come true, remember to keep your inner child alive to find the wonder and joy in every moment. (And, of course: Practice!)