Biography Judith Soo
Soprano JUDITH SOO received her Bachelor of Education, her B.F.A. Specialized Honours in Classical Vocal and Piano Performance, all from York University.
Ms. Soo maintains a busy schedule as a soloist and choral singer in Toronto Area with groups such as York University Chamber Choir & Women Chorus, Cantabile Chamber Singers and Vocal Horizon Chamber Choir. She has recently sung with York University Chamber Choir and University of Toronto Schola Cantorum, under the baton of Dr. Lisette Canton and Professor Daniel Taylor, the 2014 choir concert: “The Coronation of King George II”. In June 2009; she was one of the 13 York University Singers, to perform under the baton of John Rutter with New England Symphonic Ensemble, at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.
Ms. Soo has been singing in various private and public functions (Classical, Popular, Cabaret, Musical Theatre and Contemporary Music), as well as accompanying performances as a pianist across GTA and surrounding areas. In summer of 2014, she has performed the role of Second Spirit in “The Magic Flute” and the role of Clara in “Vanessa” with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre. She has also sung the role of Mrs. Gobineau in “The Medium” with Opera by Request.
How did you first hear about Arcadia?
I heard about Arcadia from one of the voice professors at York University, Michael Donovan. He introduced me to Arcadia Academy of Music.
It looks like you are keeping very busy with choral performances around Toronto and abroad, do you have any upcoming events you’d like to share with our readers?
Currently, I am a choral member with Pax Christi Chorale. This is my second season with them. They are a fantastic choral ensemble in Toronto. For my solo work, I have recently performed the role of Suor Dolcina and the role of Novizia, in “Suor Angelica” by Giacomo Puccini with ArtBel Production. This coming fall, I am grateful, I will have the chance to work with the director of ArtBel Production again; who will be organizing another Puccini’s amazing opera: “Gianni Schicchi”. I am really looking forward to being a part of this amazing opera production!
We all know that a career path in music is a challenging one. How has it been balancing your professional career and your teaching career?
I started teaching when I was an undergrad at York University. I have to say; it is really tough to balance between performing and teaching. When I am not practicing or having rehearsals, I would be teaching. I would never have enough time to do anything else; losing sleep is one of them. However, I do love both performing and teaching career; teaching is a rewarding job, It helps in my own development, because trying to explain a concept to someone else really helps clarify the concept in my own mind. Performing is beneficial for all musicians no matter what else you may be doing. It is a great way to get new students and to showcase your talents. Nothing gets students more excited than seeing their own teacher up there showcasing their skills.
What was it like working with John Rutter and the New England Symphonic Ensemble; and to perform at Carnegie Hall?
I was really grateful to be able to perform in an amazing venue such as Carnegie Hall. The acoustics are amazing, and the atmosphere of the venue was fantastic! Having the chance to work with a respectable, talented conductor John Rutter, I have to say; it was my honour. Aside from it, I had the chance to meet and work with different talented singers from all over North America. It was a very memorable experience.
To be able to perform in renowned venues like Carnegie Hall, many people still live by the old adage of “practice, practice, practice”, but in your experience, how important is it to make “connections, connections, connections?”
For me, to become a successful or reputable musician, not only do we need to constantly practice, polish our craft and musicianship; we also need discipline, perseverance, dedication, hard-work ethic, be persistent, be professional, build self-confidence and always looking for any performing opportunity to exercise our craft and continue learning through performance experience. Being a musician, it’s an ongoing process throughout our musical life. The famous Jazz trumpeter Brian Lynch once said: “practicing is the job, and that if you don’t truly enjoy practicing then you may as well find another job that you do enjoy, because life’s too short.” I totally agree with him. Making connections is an important job for musicians; through teaching, a great source of networking within your own community. Working at a local school or college, you learn about all of the extra community affairs and shows going on. It’s easy to get involved and meet tons of people. Also, having your own professional website always helps wit making connections. You can upload your latest shows, videos, pictures, etc. So, people would get the chance to hear your recordings, demos, live performances, etc.
Are you working on anything new? Any plans for travelling, education, album recordings?
Right now, I am focused on teaching, having rehearsals for the upcoming opera production with ArtBel Production and rehearsing with Pax Christi Chorale for their upcoming concert, include L’Enfant du Christ by Berlioz, Hands Across the Water, and many more.
Please check out the website: Pax Christi Chorale
Do you have any songs, performances, or videos of your music anywhere online that you’d recommend?
Here is my “Suor Angelica” performance I did with ArtBel Production. Hopefully, we will have more performances in the fall. Thank you!
What instrument(s) do you teach and what’s it like teaching at Arcadia?
I teach voice, piano and theory at Arcadia. Teaching at Arcadia is an enjoyment to me; I get the chance to interact with different students (different ages, backgrounds, cultures and languages). It’s quite interesting.
Do you have a social media/webpage where our readers can go and listen to your solo/ensemble work?
Yes I do. Here is one of my solo performance; the aria is called “Vedrai, Carino” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
If you had to recommend a student any great aria or Opera, which piece would you recommend and why? How is this piece challenging for the soloist?
I think every musical pieces has their own challenges, especially opera works such as Puccini, Wagner or Verdi. They have very intense Operatic repertoires. It could be quite challenging for young singers to grasp the musical materials. As to recommend an aria to a student, I think it really depends on the student’s musical experience; their age, how many years of performing experience they have, the comfort level of possibly learning an aria from another language other than English, and most importantly, their vocal development. For young singer, I think I would recommend aria pieces such as “Caro Mio Ben” by Tommaso Giordani, or “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains” by Roger Quilter. Both pieces are quite short, so student would not feel overwhelmed when learning these pieces. Although “Caro Mio Ben” is sung in Italian, but its pronunciations are quite simple to learn and the texts (or lyrics) are repeated throughout the entire song. Also, the melodies for both pieces are quite easy for young singer or beginner singer to learn. I would also recommend beginner singer to learn some musical theatre pieces; because the songs are more modern and easier for student to learn. Songs such as “The Sound of Music” or “Once Upon a Dream” would be good songs selection.
What can you tell us about the faculty and vocal program at York University?
The vocal program at York University is truly amazing. The staff in Faculty of Music at York University are friendly, and they always try to cater to the students’ needs. Composing, performing, recording and studying in superb facilities across a wide range of musical genres, traditions and settings. York University has music courses in vocal music, (jazz, classical, popular, contemporary, and many more). Program highlights include clinics and master classes led by internationally renowned artists, as well as more than 100 public concerts each season.
What were some of your challenges as a York student?
I remember when I first got to York, I had a hard time adapting and getting used to such a huge University; I needed to figure out where things were (which buildings are my classes, lecture halls, library, etc.) and who can help me if I have questions or concerns; for example, where is the financial office if I have questions about my courses, my tuitions, etc. But with time, I got to make new friends and got used to the University life.