University of B.C. music student Juliana Cook, who graduated from Ballenas Secondary School in 2016, is performing at Knox United Church in Parksville on May 5 to help fund her upcoming trip to the Czech Republic. - Submitted photo

Ballenas grad to perform opera and art songs in Parksville to fund Prague trip

UBC music student Juliana Cook was asked to study and sing in the Czech Republic

A Ballenas Secondary School graduate is singing her way to Prague with a performance of opera and art songs at Knox United Church in Parksville on May 5.

Twenty-one-year-old Juliana Cook, currently in her second year of studying music at the University of B.C., was asked to study and sing in the Czech Republic where she will perform as the First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute.

“[UBC] does a collaboration with Florida University where we both send over students to put on a show in the Czech Republic. I didn’t think I was going to be doing this in my second year (of university),” Cook said. “To work with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra will be unbelievable and incredible. I’m very grateful and happy to be going.”

RELATED: Parksville opera singer wins at provincials

The trip begins on July 3 and Cook said the first three weeks will be rehearsals and the last week will be performances.

“The Magic Flute is one of Mozart’s most famous operas. The Queen of the Night has three henchwomen and so I am the first of them, she very much makes herself clear that she is the first lady, not the second or the third,” Cook said. “As my director in Vancouver puts it, ‘if the queen were to die she would be taking place.’”

The play is performed entirely in German, a language Cook said she has been learning in university, along with French and Italian.

“I’ve taken my first semester of German now and it’s easier to understand what I’m singing,” Cook said. “You have to translate everything that you sing word for word just so you get the understanding of what you’re singing and so you’re able to portray it correctly.”

Cook has been absorbed by music from a young age. She said when she was younger she would sing Tomorrow from the Annie musical everyday on her swing set.

“It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 that I started taking singing lessons,” she said.

“I took lessons with Hillary Whelton, she’s a teacher in Parksville. With that I was able to do competitions and I did festivals and was able to go to provincials.”

Cook won in her division Intermediate Classical Voice at Performing Arts B.C. provincial festival in Fort St. John in 2016.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience and something that showed that this is definitely what I want to do for my future and career,” she said.

Cook began studying music, with a major in opera, at UBC in 2017. She says her teachers say her voice is a “baby dramatic soprano.”

“I’m a soprano and within each voice category there’s a whole bunch of other voice types,” she said. “For female voices there’s contralto, mezzo-soprano and soprano, so soprano is the highest voice where your voice naturally sits but I have a darker richer colour.”

For her May 5 performance at Knox United Church (345 Pym St.) Cook will bring opera and art songs performed in German, French, Italian and maybe some in English. She will be accompanied by pianist Andrea Wood, a Parksville piano teacher.

The fundraising concert starts at 7 p.m. with doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students and are available at Cranky Dog Music Store and United Floors in Parksville.

“It’s really a great opportunity that I’m able to finally sing in Parksville and show Parksville how much it’s been wonderful, their support with everything in high school and in university,” Cook said.

“It’s a thank you and a good opportunity for a fundraiser for this Czech Republic performance.”

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