A Ballenas Secondary School graduate will soon be off to the Royal Academy of Music in London with a prestigious scholarship.
Juliana Cook discovered her career while attending Ballenas and, in Grade 10, took on her first theatre role as the Wardrobe in a school production of Beauty and the Beast, according to a news release.
Cook said she is delighted with the opportunity, due to the academy’s high teaching standards.
“The academy has been shown to support their students with proper one-on-one individualized instruction,” she said. “The vocal faculty’s goal of making well-rounded performers is apparent, through the numerous classes they offer besides lessons and repertoire coaching. A few of these courses include language and phonetics, opera scenes, stagecraft, acting and movement, oratorio, and opera audition repertoire. I believe these courses are the concrete foundations to hone a vocalist’s talents and help them succeed with performing careers.”
Cook is excited about the opportunities granted to Royal Academy students, such as fully staged operas, concert excerpts, vocal competitions and world-renowned professionals invited for masterclasses and guest directors.
“Upon completion of my master’s, I will have acquired the technical skills and knowledge necessary to launch my professional performing career.”
She has financed her vocal development since she was 16 through bursaries and scholarships, sponsors, personal savings and student loans. Raised in a single-parent home where she learned to sew, she already has a part-time job lined up in London.
Even with her UK scholarship, there is still a shortfall for tuition, student visa applications and other performing expenses, as well as general living costs, according to the release.
A family friend created a GoFundMe page to generate some of the funds Cook will need for the next two years.
When she graduated from high school in 2016, she originally planned to attend the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Cook attended a summer opera camp at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where staff started campaigning for her to enroll there, and by September she was registered.
While studying at UBC, she had many opportunities to perform in various operas, functions and venues, in both leading and supporting roles such as Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann and the First Lady in The Magic Flute.
Cook was also able to perform in the Czech Republic and participate in masterclasses with world-renowned artists, Sondra Radvanovsky and Ben Heppner. While at UBC, she was employed in the costume shop as a senior costume technician, and worked on the majority of the shows produced during her undergraduate degree.
After completing her degree in 2021, she took a year off, before applying to three schools in London.
Her goals while studying at a post-graduate level include expanding her vocal repertoire, exploring both new art song and operatic pieces, strengthening her vocal stamina and honing her technique to endure a long performance career.
“I want to become a well-rounded musician,” said Cook. “Performing operatic roles internationally, as well as solo concerts and recitals. In the future, I intend to support upcoming artists through masterclasses and eventually guide students towards developing their own skills at a professional collegiate level.”
— Submitted by Debbie Adkins