Arianna Zukerman: A Musical Force!
Arianna Zukerman is a musical force to be reckoned with; her performances have both amazed and brought listeners to tears throughout dozens of countries and countless venues. However, it is not just her ability as a soprano that has made her into a musical force, it is her industry experience, as well as the open frankness that she adopts when discussing the next generation of classical performers.
When I asked Arianna about her decision to become a singer she simply stated that, “I have orbited around music my whole life, it seemed natural and normal to become a musician. I didn’t know that other jobs existed.” She first discovered singing and theater in high school and since then her talents have been sought after throughout the globe.
Her passion for music can be seen through any of the numerous anecdotes, which I had the pleasure of listening to for well over an hour. But perhaps my favorite story was one in which Arianna experienced a “totally terrifying, surreal, and out of body sensation.” This experience occurred when she performed with Daniel Hope, a friend and student of world-renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Arianna sang at West Minster Abbey in front of a crowd that included Prince Charles and Joan Sutherland, who is arguably the greatest opera singer of all time. Words cannot capture the immense importance of that experience, except to say that it was a moment of complete and utter clarity. A moment when the world appears to stand still and songbirds nod their head in musical understanding. In a career that has been filled with these special, indefinable moments, Arianna Zukerman has recently had the amazing opportunity to start a new adventure: motherhood.
She and her husband, Pete, are the proud parents are two little girls, 10 week old Tabitha and 2 ½ year old Veronica. Interestingly these two little girls are fast becoming Arianna’s most honest critics. In her words, “music makes you smarter and better, you can find God in music more than anything else. If you expose a child to classical music, art, dance early, then they aren’t afraid of it, the curiosity grows.” During our interview it was this very curiosity that invoked another trip down memory lane.
In March 2013, Arianna took her eldest daughter to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. It was the first time that she brought her daughter to Israel. This amazing trip back to her roots and heritage was made even more special through music. For you see, the entire time that they were in Israel, Arianna was singing Mozart. Since that trip, she has noted that, “motherhood colors my perception of everything. My heritage is incredibly important and I want to share that with my children.”
Singing has allowed her to both share her passion with the world and stay true to her Jewish heritage. In May Arianna will be performing the Defiant Requiem in Strathmore. This piece of music was performed 16 times in concentration camps throughout WWII. It has been said that learning and teaching the music was the key to survival. The music gave the prisoners hope and kept their faith alive. Several decades later, Arianna now has the honor of performing this important piece of music to a new audience. Through music she will be able to not only continue the story of her heritage, but she will also be writing new chapters for future generations.
Her desire to continue educating the next generation can be seen by her role as a faculty member at Catholic University, where she teaches vocal performance and musical theater. Arianna teaches her students about the importance of building their voices properly. When she first entered Julliard her teacher told her that it would take 15 years of dedication to build vocal technique. Arianna laughingly stated that, “I thought I could do it in less. Imagine my surprise when 15 years later I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment of vocal discovery.” There are some things in life that can’t be rushed and the voice is one of them.
Through dedication, linguistic skill, and integrity, Arianna is able to skillfully help to mold the next generation of classical and opera singers. She teaches them an important lesson that her parents once taught her about “the value of work, and the value of practice, having the courage to earn what you get. Doors open for a lot of reasons, but eventually you have to stand in the room and be prepared for what comes next.”
It is safe to say that Arianna’s vocal skills combined with her determined attitude have certainly opened many doors in both her career and personal life. The next door that she hopes to pass through involves additional musical education. As a mother she said that she would love to teach other moms about the importance of music in a young child’s life. In her words, “if you teach the parents then they can teach the kids. Once the kids are exposed to music then a whole new world is opened.” When a child has a passion a certain level of excellence can be achieved, no matter whether it is in sports or the arts. It is this very level of passion that she hopes her two little girls will find. From mother to opera soprano, Arianna Zukerman has certainly shown the world how passion, skill, and hard work can result in achieving one’s dreams.
Written by: Laura Parker