We’ve got an amazing group of artists assembled for CANTAMOS, our first project of the 2018-2019 season! Meet Linda Collazo, a Bronx native and recent graduate of CUNY Macaulay Honors College who will be an Apprentice Artist with Sarasota Opera this winter.
Get to know more about Linda and her journey as a singer in the interview below.
November 5th @ 7:30pm
New York, NY 10033
Part of the United Palace Lobby Series. Doors open at 7:00pm. Tickets available now.
Please introduce yourself: your name, your voice part, your favorite non-classical song, where you were born, and the best thing about living in New York City.
My name is Linda Collazo and I am a mezzo-soprano. My favorite non-classical song is the live version of Sara Bareilles' "Come 'Round Soon." I am from the Bronx, New York and I LOVE living in this city. The best part about living in New York City to me is how one can never run out of things to do. I also love being surrounded by so many artists from all around the world. There is so much to be inspired by!
Yes, there's so much to do in NYC! What would you say are the top two things anyone visiting NYC must do?
I love going to the parks in New York City. I would say to any tourist to definitely visit Central Park and go to The Great Lawn there. I would also say visit the High Line!
Tell us a bit about your background as an artist.
Prior to studying singing, I was primarily a pianist, and played other instruments including the saxaphone and electric bass as a child. I always loved playing music but was very shy about my voice. Although I began singing at the age of 6, I always kept my voice a secret and did not showcase it to the world until I was around 13. At this age, I brought up the courage to audition for Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a performing arts high school also known as the "Fame" school. I got in to their voice program and the rest was history! I was taught classical singing in this school and learned that I had a knack for singing opera. I developed a passion for it as my teachers pushed me further and further into this path. After auditioning and applying to several liberal arts colleges, I decided to attend the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College and the Aaron Copland School of Music to continue my studies in Vocal Performance--and now here I am, ready to sing Spanish music in Cantamos!
What helped you find the courage to share your singing and ultimately audition for LaGuardia?
I just had this need to sing. It was a very deep desire inside of me that I had a hard time allowing because I was so terrified. I thought my voice was not very good. But when I was preparing to apply for LaGuardia, I was also auditioning for piano and art (I got in for those as well), and thought to myself "why not singing?" I had nothing to lose. So I learned my first musical theater song, "In my own little corner" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and auditioned.
Fun fact: I originally picked to be a piano major my first week at LaGuardia, because I doubted my singing THAT much. But the classes felt so wrong to me that towards the middle of the week, I ran to the music office begging to be switched to the voice studio. I was placed in a week later and to this day, I am glad I made that bold decision to go into singing.
What was the first classical piece you were assigned to study? And what was your reaction to it?
The first art song I was assigned to study was “Sebben Crudele” by Caldara. I don't remember liking the piece very much. I thought it was sad and a bit boring but it helped me explore my own voice. It wasn't until I learned my second art song, which was "Nel cor piu non mi sento" by Paisiello, where I realized how fun classicial singing could be. I enjoyed singing that piece very much.
CANTAMOS is taking place at the historical United Palace theatre in Washington Heights, and you have an interesting connection with this venue - could you share that with us?
My CUNY Macaulay Honors College graduation was held at the United Palace Theater this past June 2018. It was a beautiful ceremony and that made me feel proud of my college journey. I especially fell in love with the architecture and art of the interior of the palace and at one point thought, "I wonder what it would be like to sing here..." Lo and behold, I'm going to sing here in November with the Cantanti Project. Who would have imagined? I'm very excited!
What drew you to be part of CANTAMOS?
I was drawn to Cantamos because of the way it focuses on music in the language of my heritage. I am half Ecuadorian and half Puerto Rican and have always had a deep passion for Hispanic music. Growing up, all I would listen to was salsa blasting from my parent's radio in the car. Spanish music excites me and is in my blood. To showcase this to all of you is very important to me.
Some of the salsa music I love and grew up listening to:
One of the goals of this project is to promote Spanish-language classical repertoire so more people know about it and more artists perform it. Do you have any favorite works, composers, or singers you'd recommend?
My favorite Spanish singer is the great mezzo-soprano, Teresa Berganza. She is AMAZING and anything she sings, I want to sing. Here is one of my favorite recordings of her:
Her sound is so unique and WHAT A CHEST VOICE. She has also been a huge promoter of Spanish repertoire throughout her career. I find that incredibly admirable and that inspires me to include Spanish music in my repertoire as much as I can.
The composers I love include Montsalvatge, de Falla, and Astor Piazzolla. They each have their own unique style that makes their music so interesting. I especially love Montsalvatge's song cylce, Cinco Canciones Negras and Piazzolla's opera Maria de Buenos Aires.
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made while preparing for CANTAMOS?
From being a part of this project, I have learned about and discovered an Ecuadorian composer named Gerardo Guevara. I never knew there was a classical composer from the country where my family is from! What's great is that this composer is still alive today. I hope to reach out to him soon.
Which piece are you most looking forward to singing and why?
I am especially looking forward to singing a piece by Gerardo Guevara titled, "Yaraví" based on an Andean Indian folk genre from Ecuador. It is so beautiful and serene.
It was fascinating for us to research and select Latin American art song for this concert; it definitely exists but isn't performed that often in the US! How does it feel to be performing a song by a composer that shares your family's heritage?
Singing a piece from Ecuador is actually very emotional for me, since I mostly identify with Ecuadorian culture and am closest to that side of my family. As of recent, I have been craving to go to Ecuador (I have never been) to have a better understanding of where my family comes from and to practice speaking the Spanish language in a place where I would be forced to. Learning about Gerardo Guevara and his music has made me want to do this even more and has added to my Ecuadorian pride.
And why should people come see CANTAMOS?
People should come to see CANTAMOS because it focuses on a genre of beautiful and intricate music that deserves to be heard and studied more in the classical realm. There is so much about Spanish language repertoire that needs to be put out there.
Follow Linda on Facebook for updates!
Linda’s favorite non-classical song: