Undergraduate Spotlight: Julia Holoman
Julia Holoman, class of 2023, is a Kenan Music Scholar majoring in vocal performance here at UNC. She spent her summer at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
We were excited to talk with her and hear about her experience.
Q: What did you do this summer?
A: I attended Aspen Music Festival and School, an annual summer program for voice, orchestra, collaborative piano, composition, and conducting. As one of the nation’s premiere music festivals, it is extremely selective and provides experiences working with renowned professionals of the present day.
Q: How long were you there?
A: I attended the full session, which is 8 weeks!
Q: What brought you to the Aspen Music Festival for the summer?
A: My private teacher, Dr. Fischer, mentioned that though it was a huge reach to be accepted at 21, I should consider applying in the fall of my junior year of college. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be invited to attend, but I am overjoyed now that I decided to send in my application.
Q: Describe your experience of what your time was like there.
A: My experience at Aspen was life-changing. I feel like I returned with a much deeper understanding of my vocal technique because of my private lessons and with a rekindled inspiration for opera having witnessed such high-caliber artistry from my colleagues. My main projects as a studio artist were opera scenes and the composer collaboration project, along with participating in the chorus of the two mainstage productions, Verdi’s Falstaff and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Q: What was one of your favorite parts?
A: One of my favorite parts of the festival was working closely with composer Daixuan Ai and pianist Chris Vazan to create the 3-song cycle entitled Good Bones. I fell in love with Daixuan’s composition style, and it was a unique opportunity to get to workshop the score in the rehearsal room and have a direct say in editing the final product. I’ve never had a piece of music fit my voice so well!
Q: How do you feel this experience challenged you as both a musician and a person?
A: Being surrounded by so many musicians who were further along in their careers was a massive source of inspiration for me, but it also had the potential to be intimidating at times. The festival was one of the first times that I was consistently challenged to “color” my voice with dramatic intention in the given context, which is something I’ve always been aurally receptive to and aware of, but not something I had attempted myself very much in the past– I feel as though I just honed my own technique to sing healthfully at all times only about a year ago, so the thought of altering resonance and other facets of vocal production sounded like a risk. The overwhelming support and positive attitudes of every student in attendance at the festival were major agents in inciting this personal outlook, which I am very grateful to have as I submit my master’s in music applications and auditions this year.
Interview by Casey Mentch, class of 2024