Most Valuable Takeaway | Student Blog

Monday, May 06, 2019
Maggie Valdman
Admissions Blog
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Maggie onstage

My most valuable takeaway from this year is my new understanding of how much I can really handle.

I have always been the one to want to challenge myself by saying yes to everything I possibly can say yes to, by taking on difficult goals, and by accomplishing the things that people tell me I can’t accomplish. This goal-oriented mindset is something that drives me to work so hard in life. In the last five years of my life, my mindset and life plan have shifted immensely. I went from wanting to be a pop singer and planning to stay in California for my entire life, to becoming an opera singer who travels the world, speaks six different languages, and lives across the country from my family. Of course I miss my family, but I Skype with them every day, and pop/jazz/non-classical music will always live on in my heart, as I plan to incorporate them into my career. Despite the sudden changes in my life from my original plan, I feel so lucky to be in the position I am in, studying in the place that is truly helping me become the artist I have always dreamed of becoming.

This year, I feel like I really showed myself what I am truly capable of by taking on projects that were far out of my comfort zone. The first project that I agreed to was taking on two separate chamber groups in one semester. By doing this, I was able to learn a lot of extra and exciting repertoire, study with three amazing coaches whom I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise work with, and perform/collaborate with three of my colleagues from Juilliard — a pianist, a cellist, and a guitarist. It is truly amazing how much there is to know about how each instrument works and the special attention and care each concert takes depending on the instrumentation. The biggest and scariest project I took on this year was my very first piece of new music. My amazing team—composer J.P. Redmond, librettist Matthew Capodicasa, director Kim Kerfoot, and pianist Johanna Bufler—created and put together a 15-minute opera written just for me, for a project called OperaComp that was put on at Juilliard. Now, when I tell you this music was hard, I mean this music was hard. Not only that, but if you could imagine hard music plus physical exertion, I bet you wouldn’t picture an opera singer singing while cartwheeling and doing a backbend. Well, that’s the craziness I decided to take on, and I even have the video proof to confirm that I pulled it off.

After completing this difficult work, I felt unstoppable and decided to join two composers for their Juilliard pre-college graduation recital and performed their new atonal works on the stage of Paul Hall in Juilliard. I feel very proud to have been able to accomplish this as well because I was asked to step in for another singer and the rehearsal schedule for the performance was on a very short timeline but it went well and was a wonderful experience. These projects were all, of course, in addition to the other performances I have written about in previous blogs that I was in, such as Juilliard’s production of Dido and Aeneas, my third year recital, my off campus performances, and my auditions for summer programs around the city. Now to finish off the year I have received the immensely humbling opportunity of singing the title role in La tragédie de Carmen with City Lyric Opera. This process has already been so special and I am so excited to perform this exciting work in May.

All in all, this year has truly been a wonderful challenge and a big year of growth for me. I am very much looking forward to applying my newfound stamina and “special skills” to my future works and collaborations. Thank you so much for reading my blog and I hope to see you in the next one!