Emily Scott, former Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera, has just completed the first year of her Masters at UCLA. She writes an open letter to everyone who has supported her.
Around this time a year ago I had just learned that I been accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles Master of Music program in Classical Voice Performance. I moved overseas away from my family and friends for the first time in my life, out on my big adventure to follow my dream of becoming a professional opera singer.
This has easily been the most terrifying decision I have ever had to make! I felt incredible trepidation knowing that I would be moving away from the country and people I love so much. I doubted if I would be able to live up the expectations of the internationally recognised faculty at UCLA and was curious about how well I would fair amongst my new peers.
I had never been to America before and had not travelled anywhere other than Australia without the company of my family. I created an idea of a country based on what I knew from movies, television and tabloids; I envisioned a place so unlike New Zealand that I was nervous about what I was about to encounter. I am ecstatic to be able to say that I could not have been more wrong.
Upon arriving to America there was an unexpected mid-September heat wave. Averaging 37 degrees centigrade daily, it was perhaps not the most ideal time to familiarise myself with the UCLA campus, which is large enough that it has its own zip code. The first day of classes brought an orientation session with the UCLA Voice faculty and the entirety of the students of the department (maybe 45 students in total, 12 of which were graduates). The students and faculty members are kind and generous, and I was warmly welcomed by everyone. Most told me that they loved my accent, one adored Lord of the Rings, others asked various questions about New Zealand.
It feels like a lifetime has passed since my preparation for my arrival at UCLA. I have grown and learned so much in my time here, and the students I met nine months ago are now some of my dearest friends. My voice has grown and expanded in ways I never would have thought possible. Prior to my arrival at UCLA, I was unaware of its standing as one of the top universities in the world; not only is UCLA the number 2 ranked public school in the United States, it is consistently ranked among the top 10 and 25 universities in the world by various news publications, I am proud to have achieved a GPA of 3.86 while also performing lead roles in Così fan tutte and The Tragedy of Carmen, which required an uncountable amount of hours learning music and rehearsing throughout the entire year.
It is absolutely thrilling to announce that I have been chosen to perform the role of Cinderella in Massenet’s Cendrillon for the main UCLA Opera Production in the upcoming stage production! This is absolutely delightful as Massenet is one of my favourite composers, and this will be my very first French role. In addition I am currently working on two roles at the recommendation of Peter Kazaras, Director of Opera Studies at UCLA; these two roles are Adina from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Susanna from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Together with these three roles I am preparing my Master recital repertoire, which will include songs by New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn and the Maori lullabye ‘Hine e hine,’ as well as featuring images of our beautiful country.
Every day I am reminded that the reason that I am able to continue my studies and the pursuit of my dream as a member of one of the most storied musical and theatrical traditions is because of your incredible gratitude. It would have been quite literally impossible for me to have completed this past year without your generous gifts. By choosing to support my education, you have joined the ranks of those who supported everyone from Handel to Mozart to Verdi and each and every singer and composer in between. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your contributions! I will always remember those of you who helped me on the road to success.
There are a range of ways you can “share the dream” – from making a regular or one-off donation, to leaving a bequest or sponsoring a scholarship or prize. Find out more