Singer Johana Arnold and her husband Kim Paterson will be performing at the Voice and Piano Classical Delight Concert at Belair Community Centre today Thursday, March 16, from 8:00pm. Arnold tells us more about her career and what patrons can expect from her and her hubby this evening.
Who is Johana Arnold?
I am a classically trained singer who’s interested in all kinds of music. I am also an actress (about to perform in Driving Miss Daisy) and an avid outdoor person who enjoys hiking and swimming. I am also a voice teacher and enjoy working with young people and older singers as well.
How would you describe yourself?
I was a very quiet child and I still like my peace and quiet. The other side of me loves to perform and to give in that way. I have the good fortune to be the mother of two daughters, a grandmother and the wife of my wonderful pianist.
I went to a music conservatory as a singer so that I could train to my best ability to be a singer. I also took other courses, which help round things out. Most specifically, other courses that I enjoyed were religion, English, German and French.
Place of birth/residence?
I was born in San Francisco, California. I moved to New York City after graduating from college (Oberlin Conservatory) and have lived in that state ever since, though now in the Western Catskill Mountains.
When did you discover your love for (classical) music?
My mother started teaching me classical piano when I was about seven. I fell in love with Bach's music right away. I began studying voice at the age of 14. I was encouraged to do this by a very talented schoolmate who was a singer and wanted someone to sing with.
How did you hone this skill?
Practice, practice, practice! And one voice lesson a week. I still need to practice every day or I notice that things are harder to do.
How did you get into the musical industry professionally?
After leaving college, I had the good fortune to be a fellowship student at a wonderful music festival in the US called Tanglewood. I spent the summer there and then moved to New York City. While I was working in a music store there to pay my rent, I started to get concert work through the contacts I had made the previous summer. One thing leads to another if you are lucky.
What type of musician are you?
My specialty is classical music and I have sung some opera. I love the concert repertory. I also have performed in quite a few musical theatre productions and sing a little jazz, though my tone production is pretty clearly a classical one. My brother is a drummer and my mother, now passed, was a wonderful jazz pianist, and we had a group called the Generations of Jazz, out in California.
What do you love about music?
This is trite, but it truly can open worlds between people in a wonderful way. It also is fun to bring music to life that was written many, many years ago and to make it live for an audience.
What differentiates you from other Classical Delight performers?
Each of us has worked hard at this discipline; that is what we have in common. What makes us different is who we are, physically, mentally and in personality. We share a need and a delight in performing. I feel that I am most myself when I am singing music I love.
Why did you decide to perform in St. Maarten for the Classical Delight concert?
It is rather a funny story. Our orchestra conductor back home in New York has a timeshare in St. Maarten. He and his wife, with whom Kim and I have worked many times, thought we would love to visit and he mentioned that there was a concert series here and he gave us the name of the person to contact. That got the ball rolling.
What can patrons expect from you at the concert?
A lot of energy and a real desire to bring our audience into the music; we will be doing several different styles and we hope to show that the variety can open minds to music from the 1800s to our 21st Century.
What were your first impressions of the island and what are your expectations?
I had no idea what to expect. The colour of the water, even from the airplane, took my breath away. We are staying at a resort, which is a first for us, so the traffic is a little intense. But the people are friendly and kind. Bernadine and her husband Gerard met us at the airport and have bent over backwards to make sure we are comfortable and cared for. And the warm weather is fabulous, especially as right now there is a blizzard in progress in our home state.
What inspires you when it comes to music?
I continue to be inspired by other artists (my husband among them) both young and the older generation which is passing away. There are current musicians who struggle with their art and continue despite those struggles. Also our world, which is now so plugged in and tech-heavy, can benefit from listening and playing live acoustic music in all forms. I am inspired my music teachers, too and know that it can be a battle to keep those programs going, certainly in my country.
What is your advice to other persons who want to follow in your professional path?
Do it because you love it and absolutely have to do it. You will not make much money unless you get very lucky. Keep up the discipline of practice, because it really does pay off, not only in your music but in the rest of your life. Listen to other artistes and go to concerts if you can.
What do you do outside of music?
I am a mother and a grandmother. I love to walk, swim, read and act.
What’s next for Johana Arnold?
The role of Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy, and the soprano soloist in the Mozart Requiem at the end of April.
What artistes do you listen to?
I love Ella Fitzgerald for jazz and Renee Fleming for opera.
If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
This is tough, and I admit right here that my husband is the better cook. I would love to invite Ella Fitzgerald over and we would have some of the fish out of our pond. The Obamas are on my list, too, and I have a special roast chicken dish I would cook for them. I am blanking on a third person.