Friday, December 15, 2017

North Carolina soloist says music serves as an outlet during the holidays

November 30, 2016 by Adam Marsh, student editor 

American soprano and soloist Molly Quinn is no stranger to life on the road. And she’s travelling down that never-ending path and ending up right here in Victoria on December 17 to perform Festive Cantatas: JS Bach Magnificat. 

Quinn says the show is a joy to perform because it’s focused on the talents of each individual singer and is complemented by an orchestra. Being a soloist and having the house lights focused on her is the essence of the job, but Quinn says it’s easy for soloists to grow cold on stage.

“It’s very different to step out when you’re a soloist who is sitting on the front of the stage for a large work, and you’re singing none of the ensemble stuff,” she says. “About 40 minutes of music happens before you actually get a chance to sing; you get to participate as a listener, but not as a performer, which I think informs what it’s like to sing by yourself.”

Quinn, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, says her passion lies in conveying the story that the piece has to tell with her unique voice.

“Hopefully no two singers will sing any aria exactly the same,” she says.

Soprano and soloist Molly Quinn will be performing in Victoria on December 4 (photo provided).

Soprano and soloist Molly Quinn will be performing in Victoria on December 4 (photo provided).

Keeping warmed up for the 40 minutes before she sings is sometimes a challenge, she says. Quinn will sometimes hum along quietly with the piece to keep her vocal chords warm, or will try various breathing exercises.

“I frequently wiggle my nose a little bit; it kind of triggers my sinuses to wake up the rest of my body,” she says. “There’s never a chance to get cold, because you’re participating in every part of the work. All of the ensemble writing for all five light voices together is just spectacular. It’s really invigorating to sing, so nobody will be getting cold on stage in this performance. We’ll all be quite hot-blooded.”

Performing over the holidays is ultimately the way Quinn wants it. She says that December is a “rich time” for many classical musicians, but she also acknowledges that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people.

“Because so many of us are travelling away from home, we get to be festive and bring festive energy to people in their hometowns,” she says. “We get to feed off that, and we get to experience the holidays with colleges that maybe we only see once a year. The funny thing is that I think a lot of people find the holiday season to be a challenging time; lots of mixed emotions circulate, where you’re supposed to feel really good around the holidays.”

But she knows that is not always the case. Quinn says going to a live concert can serve as an escape for people who are struggling around the holidays.

“Music is such a wonderful way to just let your emotions kind of take over. I think that’s actually one of the reasons why audiences are so drawn to hearing concerts in the month of December,” she says. “Not because it forces them to be in the holiday spirit or something aggressive like that, but more just the fact that it’s a chance to connect with your community, and maybe you hear something that makes you feel the things you don’t want to feel, or the things you really want to feel.”

Festive Cantatas: JS Bach Magnificat
8 pm Saturday, December 17 (pre-concert talk at 7:10 pm)
$26, Christ Church Cathedral (911 Quadra Street)
earlymusicsocietyoftheislands.ca

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