In the fall, Julia Yoo, 18, will be taking her talents south to Vancouver, studying science and opera at the University of British Columbia.
Born and raised in Terrace, Yoo has been playing instruments from when she was around three-years-old. Her older sister learned the violin and Yoo said that being a younger sibling, she naturally went down the same path. She learned to play the harp and piano, eventually finding her voice after around 12 years of violin lessons.
“I found that I really, really liked singing and voice was more of my outlet versus violin,” she said. “Violin is definitely a lot harder to express musicality.”
Yoo said that many people start singing later in relation to playing instruments is because their voices don’t “settle down” until they are older.
“Anyone can learn how to sing, everyone’s voice is different. It’s just a matter of how you want to use it.”
Yoo doesn’t yet know how her first year of studies will look considering that the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, but as a dual degree student she is slated to take private lessons in her first year, plus some group requirements like choir. If things go well Yoo hopes to join the school’s dietetics program.
“Food health and nutrition has recently been one of my passions, and it’s fascinating to learn about actually so that is what I’m considering right now,” she said, noting that UBC is the only school in the province that offers a dietetics program.
Although COVID-19 is creating some uncertainty for the fall, it has actually opened up some opportunities to perform during the past year because Yoo was able to enter far away competitions virtually.
She won first place at the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival for Intermediate Classical Leider and Intermediate Classical Art Song and was nominated to represent the festival at provincials, but had already accepted a nomination from a Burns Lake music festival.
At provincials, Yoo performed in the classical voice category. Participants submitted three videos online each to be adjudicated. Yoo placed first in her category, but found out later that one of her videos was deemed to be in the musical theatre category so she no longer qualified.
“I know that I won, which was super exciting,” she said. “It’s very, very encouraging, honestly, I don’t really care about that.”
After she graduates from UBC, Yoo would like to return to the area and rejoin the music community.
“I would definitely love to have my own private studio and teach music because that has been one of the best things that happened to me growing up, I loved going and having music lessons because they were very fun for me,” she said. “To pass that down to next generation would be would be a dream come true.”
Business ownership in Terrace is not a new concept for Yoo, seeing as her parents own Cafenara coffee shop. Working at the shop has been a great way for Yoo to make connections in the community.
In the meantime though, Yoo said she is focused on being outside this summer exploring, hiking and fishing. For young musicians and people getting into singing or playing an instrument, Yoo has some advice: Be resilient and don’t give up.
“When you start it, it’s very exciting, and that’s awesome. I would advise to remember why you started and keep your passion for music alive. Because as time goes on, it can get very hard to keep yourself motivated, especially as the repertoire gets more difficult,” she said.
“Once you finally get to a place where you can be comfortable, it is very liberating.”