Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Nicole Ross: Early memories and reflections of studying during challenging times

Many thanks to scholarship recipient Nicole
Ross for taking the time to share reflections on her memories, challenges and studying during a pandemic.

Instagram: @nicolealiceross

What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you?
It has been a huge honour to receive support from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. This has been a tremendous help in supporting costs related to my final year of studies at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University.

What are your earliest memories of your art?
My earliest musical memory is from when I was about 5 years old and had just started taking piano lessons. I confess that at this age I was not too keen on practicing, so my first memory is of the elaborate ways I would “lose” my piano books when it was practice time. This makes me chuckle now because practice time has since become very special to me!

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?
For me the biggest challenge in music making has always been perfectionism. It can be very tricky for me to find the line between excellence and perfectionism, while also making room for creativity and expressivity.

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?
In a very big way, the pandemic has made me aware of all of the musical experiences I was taking for granted. Music, especially for singers, is so deeply rooted in collaboration. The first rehearsal I attended after many months of isolation was such a surreal experience. Even with many safety precautions in place, it was so moving to make music with others, and to hear their artistry happening, live, in the room. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and bring it into future rehearsals for inspiration.

How have you managed practicing your art during the pandemic?
It hasn’t been perfect, but I am amazed by the ways we’ve managed to safely rehearse and perform in these COVID times. At school I’ve been able to rehearse with my colleagues virtually or in small groups and then get together to film or live stream performances. I have been very fortunate to work on digital Opera Projects with Opera McGill in collaboration with Tapestry Opera. I’m also looking forward to performing the role of Flora in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw which will be live streamed by Opera McGill at the end of this month. In some ways, rehearsing virtually can be very advantageous because it allows us to collaborate with colleagues from far and wide. I recently had the opportunity to partake in Lucky Penny Opera’s 48-hour opera project, where I worked with Nova Scotian Composer and Pianist Edward Enman (Talent Trust scholarship recipient too) to create a short opera in 48 hours. We were able to create, record and film this piece fully remotely and not even in the same province, which would never have been possible before.

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