Juliana Cook

Parksville opera singer wins at provincials

Juliana Cook has plans to go to post-secondary in Toronto for opera

For Juliana Cook, Broadway is the dream.

“I think one day there will be a way for me to make tall the way of Broadway,” said the 6’1 1/2” performer.

Cook said when she was two years old, she discovered the musical Annie.

“I would sing Tomorrow so much. That’s all I would sing throughout the day and my mom said one time I had gotten up in the middle of the restaurant, stood up on my chair singing Tomorrow.”

She said she wanted to be able to sing and act when she got older, but Cook said she only thought people could be singers or actors, not both.

“Not until I discovered Broadway and musical theatre and opera that I understood that you can do both,” Cook said. “That was everything.”

It was only in Grade 9, when Cook was taking musical theatre, that she said he mom put her into singing lessons.

“I don’t think she had really heard me sing like that,” said Cook, who was playing the Wardrobe in a production of Beauty and the Beast.

Cook, who has only been in singing lessons for almost three years, recently won in her division Intermediate Classical Voice at Performing Arts B.C. provincial festival in Fort St. John.

At 18 years old, Cook said she was competing against people who had been taking lessons for years longer than her.

“At first, I was like scared but excited and I wanted to take that leap and compete,” Cook said. “Not only compete, it was more that I really wanted to see what everybody else is like and see how I rank up to them to know what else is out there because I’ve only seen talent in Nanaimo and Parksville and some in Courtenay, so I’ve never seen past this little section in the Island.”

Cook’s vocal coach Hilary Whelton said she felt the provincials would broaden Cook’s horizons.

“It was an exciting and interesting opportunity,” said Whelton, who has worked with Cook at Bard To Broadway. “It was also a chance to meet other singers her own age.”

Cook received a scholarship from B2B to provide young performing artists with financial aid to attend a post-secondary course in performing arts or a recognized workshop or festival which will advance their performing skills.

Cook said without that scholarship, she doesn’t think she would have been able to go to provincials.

“That so many people would want me to go and just had faith in me to go ahead and take this next leap, so I really thank everyone who had helped me get there because without their help I wouldn’t have been able to go,” Cook said.

Recently graduated from Ballenas Secondary School, Cook said she plans to take a gap year while applying and preparing auditions for university.

While Broadway is her dream, Cook said she’s plans to start with opera program.

“It was hard for me to say to myself, I need to take opera in school first,” she said. “For a person like me, my stature is that I’m quite tall, so I have the voice to suit those characters.”

She said she wants to see if she can perform concerts in the future.

“Concerts are a great way to showcase a whole bunch of genres of music. It can be opera and musical theatre and everyone loves the old Rogers and Hammerstein and Gershwin music,” said Cook, adding that in concerts she can embody the character in the songs.

She said she’s looking at University of Toronto because the teacher has a dramatic, dark soprano voice.

“The voice is rare to come by, the dramatic dark soprano voice,” Cook said. “If you don’t have it, I think it’s hard to teach how to control the voice.”

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