2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.
Story by Awa Badiane ’21
Hannah Jones ’22 remembers the moment she fell in love with opera, and knew immediately that would be her calling.
She was a high school student in Houston and was part of a music trip to New York City.
“I went to New York because I was singing with the Treble Choir of Houston,” Jones said. “We were singing at Carnegie Hall, and we went to see The Phantom of the Opera. At first, I was like, ‘I don’t want to see The Phantom of the Opera, this white show; I want to see The Lion King.‘
“But when we went to see The Phantom of the Opera, the phantom was a black man, which is not common at all; usually that role is played by a white man. I saw it and was on the edge of my chair. I realized this is what I want to do, this is what I have to do.”
Jones has been pursuing voice ever since, more specifically opera. In her second year at Lawrence University, she’s majoring in music performance (voice) in the Conservatory of Music.
She has been excelling at it since arriving at Lawrence in the fall of 2018, learning under the tutelage of voice professor John Holiday, also from Houston. She participated in a National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition, taking a first place honor. She competed again this year, and won for the second year in a row.
“During my first year, my professor, John Holiday, taught us not to focus on winning but to focus on doing your best, so regardless if you win or not, you still feel good,” Jones said. “I felt good about my performance, so when I won, I was like, this is even better. It felt good, but it wasn’t the end all be all. I want to win bigger things and just do better.”
Besides winning in the NATS competition for the second year in a row, Jones has had lead roles in shows on campus and has been chosen to sing in Italy this summer.
“Being here, I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities,” Jones said. “Like this summer, I got a role in an opera in Italy. I’m really excited about that. So, I’m learning the opera for here (Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in March) and the one for there in June. It never stops, but it’s fun.”
An early start
Jones was drawn to music early in her life.
“I’ve always been singing,” she said. “My mom is a choir director, and I come from a musical family in general.”
Having a career in the field of music has been part of her vision.
“Originally, I played cello for eight years, and I wanted to be an instrumentalist,” she said. “I would tell people I wanted to be the next Yo-Yo Ma … but in the high school I went to, we weren’t able to do two art areas; you have to choose one.”
When faced with having to choose one area of interest in high school, Jones chose to set aside the cello and focus on her voice.
You can check out Jones’ talent when she performs March 6-8 in Lawrence Opera Theatre’s Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Stansbury Theater.
We asked Jones to share two tips for excelling in the Conservatory:
1: “Take care of your body. Make sure to drink water and get enough sleep.”
2: “Practice your music every day. Not just the notes; look deeper into the music. What are you trying to say?”
Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office.