Article by Sarah Alo
Rebecca Woodmass is a current student of Opera Performance at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University scheduled to graduate with her Masters in 2011. Although still at a young age, she has already distinguished herself in the operatic world. Most recently, Rebecca performed the role of Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with the McGill Chamber Orchestra. In addition, she played Mabel in Pirates of Penzance with the Savoy Society, as well as had her European debut with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar as Despina in Cosi fan tutte.
Rebecca uses Velvet Singer to manage her busy, budding career. Velvet Singer helps her keep track of her schedule – from organizing contacts for networking to retaining a record of past auditions and performances. Rebecca’s career has become more organized using Velvet Singer, allowing her to spend less time managing and more time focusing on her craft.
Q: When did you start singing?
Rebecca: When I was a little girl, I was always singing. My mother had sung in choirs for years, and she would tell me to sing from deep down (i.e. the diaphragm). I was singing for family celebrations from a very young age, and I was good at memorizing and acting. So you might say that I always loved performing. Music was always a part of my life – I sang, played piano, flute, recorder, tenor saxophone, French horn, and guitar.
Q: When did that transition from a hobby to a career?
Rebecca: I was at a crossroads when I was at the beginning of my bachelor degree, and I needed to decide what scholastic path I wanted to pursue. I always had many interests, and I was considering going into Engineering or Drama. I finally decided to go into singing because I felt that it was the most natural decision considering my activities of the years leading up to high school graduation. I have had my doubts, but every year I feel better about my decision to go into singing. Of course, I am just beginning to build my career, and I hope to take it to Europe sometime in the next few years.
Q: What are your aspirations for the future?
Rebecca: I love Europe, especially the French culture, and I would love to build a nice little career in Europe, based in France. Ten years from now, I think I will be doing a little of contemporary music, hopefully a little opera, and a lot of concerts! I love oratorio. I also think that I will be doing some other things other than singing – perhaps teaching yoga, or teaching English, or managing a restaurant, or writing a book. I am the kind of person that needs something other than just music to make me feel balanced. I would be really happy if I could have a full performing schedule but still be able to do something else on the side, totally unrelated to music.
Q: What are some of your upcoming projects?
Rebecca: I am really excited to work with a soprano saxophone player this fall on a project with his contemporary music group. We are going to do a concert in Montreal featuring works by Grisey and Leroux. I feel strongly about presenting work by Canadian composers, and even though it is more difficult to learn sometimes than the standard repertoire, it is extremely rewarding.
Q: What do you love about singing?
Rebecca: I love singing because I think it can be such an honest way to communicate. You have no choice but to put aside your fears and emote with your entire being, from your core to your eyelashes. This kind of frankness really touches people, and my goal in life has always been to inspire others to reach their full potential. I think singing has the capacity to do that – it is so fantastical and yet so innately human.
Q: How much do you use Velvet Singer and how has it improved or changed your career?
Rebecca: I use Velvet Singer much more now that it has been updated! I use it to keep track of contacts and to rate my performance in auditions. I think in the next few years it is going to be very helpful, as I will be out of school and doing a lot more auditions. It has helped me to be able to write down information in an organized way, and then be able to clear my mind so I can focus on my singing. It’s amazing how much you think you are going to remember, and then almost instantly forget.
Q: What Velvet Singer feature do you find most useful and why?
Rebecca: Right now, I like the Contacts section because I am meeting a lot of people and it’s hard to keep track. I think in the next few years, the Reports are going to be invaluable. Already I am able to choose my audition arias more intelligently. Thank you, Velvet Singer!