AN OPERA SINGER’S JOURNEY

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

Julia Rolwing is a singer and Adjunct Professor of Voice at Montclair State University and Kean University, both in New Jersey. She’s head of the NJ Vocal Arts Collaborative, which will host a virtual online summit, open to all interested singers, this summer.

Last year she staged and starred in her own production of Tristan und Isolde, the Wagner opera about forbidden love that can run upward of four hours.

She lives in North Bergen, just across the Hudson from Manhattan.

How she got there is a story of vocation, faith, and passion.

Julia was born and raised Catholic in the Columbus, Ohio area. “My father blessed us each night with holy water; my parents prayed. They gave me the sacrament-loving  faith that has sustained me all my life.”

As an 11-year-old, she was in the band room with 60 or so other kids. One day her middle school teacher, Marion Canter, exhorted the choir: “Sing it like Julie!” (the nickname by which she was then known). The moment was seminal. “I didn’t know I was good at anything. I grabbed hold of that and chased it till, decades later, I got my doctorate.” In high school, she had another mentor. “Mr. Joe Thrower was a black gentleman who dressed in elegant three-piece suits and held us to the highest standards. Everyone else was afraid of him but we choir students adored him. He gave us sacred music—the Psalms, Mozart, Beethoven.”

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

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