I am a lifelong classical singer, avocational pianist and dancer, music educator, and community music activist. My mother put me in piano lessons at age 3.5 so I wouldn’t watch so much TV and put me in children’s community theater because I was a shy child. She helped me find my way to Richard Messenger’s choral program at Irvine High School and from age 15-20 funded my first voice lessons with Robert Volbrecht in Tustin, CA. When I graduated high school, I needed some time to decompress and contemplate future possibilities. Orange Coast College/ Golden West College proved to be the perfect landing for a few years of study and introspection that led me to successfully audition for Oberlin College and Conservatory, my “dream school.” On an almost full scholarship, I completed a double degree in Music Education and English. To this day I have never used my English degree to get a job, but I know I use it daily as a singer in working with text and meaning (the interplay of music and words).I am grateful to my mentors in the College and Conservatory to help me understand those important connections.
I returned from Oberlin to CalArts (Valencia, CA) for grad school, and was happily blindsided by a quirky, expansive artistic environment where composers ruled. There were no opera performances but instead archetypal boundary-breaking “performance projects,” the students’ dogs roamed the halls and slept soundly in the theory classes, and I was quickly recruited to play everything from Bach cantatas to the Steve Reich catalog. The first day of class in Allen Vogel’s Bach Cantatas class was September 11, 2001. Witnessing such beauty and uplift as we listened amidst the day’s heartbreak was a terror and unknowing will never leave me. I encourage you to look up Ben Zelkowicz’s Erlking sand animation produced during my time there - this is a perfect snapshot of the creativity and openness and above all commitment that defined Calarts at the time. I tend to tell those who ask that Oberlin made me the musician and Calarts made me more the musician but also the artist. I am deeply thankful to both for the memories and connections that still hold strong to this day - both tangible and ephemeral.
During first year at Calarts, I was encouraged by a dear colleague to audition for Los Angeles Master Chorale, which was just about to begin its tenure at Walt Disney Concert Hall. I believe the Seguedilla aria from Carmen and Botschaft by Brahms were the winning combination of audition pieces (Botschaft to the consternation of the pianist). And lo! I found myself in one of the nation’s (and now internationally recognized) great choral companies. LA Opera, while fortunate to land a successful audition, took me three years of trying. But now I’m happy beyond measure to call both my professional artistic homes, since 2002 and 2007 respectively. Somewhere along the way, I was picked up by the world of film and television session singing, and this is probably the most stressful but also rewarding facet of practical music making - especially when my sons can tell their friends their mom sang onFrozen, Big Hero 6and The Last Jedi.
As a teacher, I try every day to give the love and practical skill that was passed to me along the way in my own musical life. My current instructors and mentors include Judith Natalucci, Milena Kitic, Grant Gershon and John Duykers (who all deserve essays upon essays in what they have shown me about creating presence through sound). I think about this quite a bit, the passing of knowledge from one artist to the next; what we do as teachers is truly one of the last apprentice arts of the world. You cannot learn music via youtube or a textbook or even an online course. It requires all senses of both student meeting teacher; it’s an art that is body-mind-soul oriented. I ally myself with both the Music Teachers’ Association of California (Long Beach branch), and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (Los Angeles Chapter, board member 2018-present). For 12 years I taught at the nationally-ranked Orange County School of the Arts (Classical Voice Conservatory). I retired teaching in the classroom to tour internationally with LA Master Chorale’s Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter) immersive movement piece, staged by Peter Sellars to 21 madrigals by the Renaissance master Orlando di Lasso, which toured nationally and to 6 countries in 2018-19. My days are spent in my teaching studio in Long Beach, CA, at LA Opera, in the film/tv scoring studio, teaching the occasional master class, prepping for our monthly studio family coffeehouses, spending precious time with my two sons, and at Walt Disney Concert Hall. I deeply believe “those who DO, teach” - and try to live it daily.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
“Adriana is the complete package! She teaches piano and voice with sight reading, caring for your voice, music theory and composition. Lots of performance opportunites and help preparing for auditions. She is an active professional currently performing with LA Opera and LA Master Chorale which enables her to help all levels. She has a special talent working with kids and even students young and old with special needs. As an active member of NATS LA, she has access to master classes and evaluation events in both performance and music theory. Her kind heart, love for music, extensive knowledge and professional experience makes her a perfect teacher for the beginner up to the well-seasoned performer to learn and grow with..”
— Mary Holguin