Soprano Johanna Young (’08) returns to her alma mater Feb. 26 to perform with acclaimed Australian guitarist Rupert Boyd. Young, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., who now lives in New York City, graduated with honors in music and was a two-time concert competition winner, recipient of the Christian Cappelluti Prize and president of the Concert Choir. Young and Boyd will perform at 3 p.m in Brendle Recital Hall.
Q. What was it about the community here that made your experience life-changing?
A. I was a music performance major, and a psychology minor. The close-knit community at Wake Forest created a safe and nurturing environment for me to grow musically, academically, and mature as an individual. I was given a lot of performance experience as well as individual attention from the faculty and access to so many resources.
Q. Did you have any faculty mentors or fellow students who influenced you along the way?
A. My voice teacher, Teresa Radomski, was not only a faculty mentor to me but also one of the most positive parts of my Wake Forest experience. From my first day in her studio, she challenged me, supported me, and continually gave of her time to make sure I had all the information and preparation possible. Her continued belief in me as a musician and performer has lasted outside of my tenure at Wake Forest and is one of the reasons why I pursued music as a career.
James Dodding was also a very strong figure in my development. He taught me how to work hard for what I believed in, how to fully give of yourself as a performer and the joy that can come from those experiences. I had a lot of close friends in the music department, but baritone Christopher Magiera (‘05) was a senior when I was a freshman and took me under his wing. Not only is he a phenomenal musician, but also over the years he has continued to be an invaluable source of information and a huge support.
Q. When did you first realize musical performance was your passion?
A. Music was always a part of my life. I began taking violin lessons at the age of 3 and piano at 5. It wasn’t until high school that I began to take singing seriously. I saw my first opera in ninth grade and immediately knew the power of words in song. Fall of my sophomore year at Wake Forest I studied abroad in Vienna at the Flow House. During my time in Vienna, I had the opportunity to discover where some of the greatest composers lived and worked and experience some of the best concerts and operas the world has to offer. Also, I was able to take voice lessons from Soprano Uli Sych. My experiences in Vienna provided a context for my past years of musical training, giving life to the music that had been a part of my life for so long.
Q. Is it different singing with a guitarist as compared to a pianist or orchestra?
A. In some ways performing with a guitarist is a much more intimate experience. With a pianist and orchestra, I really have the ability to show off the depth, size, and volume of my voice, whereas performing with guitar requires much more dynamic sensitivity due to the sound limits of performing with a one six-stringed instrument. Although I often find the guitar has the ability to echo, answer, or even challenge what I’m singing. Its intimate nature requires great attention to detail and allows the text to shine through both instruments.
Q. What are you doing now career-wise, and what are your aspirations?
A. I have lived in Manhattan since graduating from Wake Forest in 2008, continuing my vocal studies privately. Living in New York has given me access to some of the best diction coaches, voice teachers, and performance opportunities. I have performed in a number of small operatic roles, ensembles, and concerts across the Tri-State area and in North Carolina. I am also a church soloist! I teach private music lessons to kids from age 3 to adults. I enjoy both the performance and teaching aspect of my life and hope to continue doing both. Eventually I would like to go back to Vienna to perform.
Q. Are you excited about coming back to Wake Forest to perform?
A. I am very excited to come back to Wake! It will be fun to get to perform in Brendle again, and it is exciting getting to perform with a good friend of mine, guitarist Rupert Boyd, and show him the Wake Forest community.