Q&A with Colin Williamson

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microphone (Photo credit: TOM81115)

Colin Williamson, a casual trumpet, guitar and keyboard player as well as a proclaimed opera singer, answers some questions about his music career, being a senior and why he chose music above all else.

Why did you choose CSU to further your music career?

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Fort Collins is my hometown. When I started college, I went to UNC in Greeley. I started in music, but didn’t feel that UNC or music was where I belonged. I came home after two years and took a few more years figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I had started at CSU during that time, studying a variety of things. When I decided it was time to knuckle down and finish, I re-auditioned for music at CSU and was accepted.

What are your plans when you’re done?

I’m moving to New York City in August to get my masters in Classical Voice at the Manhattan School of Music. After that, I hope to do two more years of post-graduate study in an artist diploma or opera institute. When I’m finished with my education, I would like to sing opera for a few years in Germany before moving back to the states.

How long have you been singing?

I have been singing my entire life. My dad is an amazingly talented musician and I got all of my talents from his side of the family. I sang a lot in church choir and led our high school worship team for three years. I didn’t sing in school until my junior year. I joined choir and sang in all-state choir in 2005 and 2006.

Do you sing any other styles of music besides opera?

I love singing opera. I love being on the stage and the costumes and the lights — the entire spectacle is amazing. But, I really enjoy singing jazz — my first instrument was a trumpet, which was a big factor in how much I like jazz. There is a big difference to me between opera and jazz. In opera, I’m always portraying a character, when I’m singing a song it’s how that character feels. Jazz is much more personal to me. It’s a way, along with punk/alt/indie rock, for me to express myself and how I feel, not what the character feels.

From your performances, there seems to be a lot of acting and drama incorporated … has performance acting been a passion of yours, too?

I started doing theatre my senior year of high school. To me, the acting underneath the singing is almost more important than the music. Most operas struggle with connecting drama and music and it’s why I don’t like a large portion of the genre. I want to write operas that combine the dramatic and literary elements that have been refined with the music of opera.

Is it hard to sing in other languages and to learn the lyrics and how to pronounce them?

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Incredibly hard. A big tool that singers use is the International Phonetic Alphabet. This way we have a unified set of characters to represent every sound found in English, German, French and Italian. It really helps to overcome the differences. For example, my name would be spelled; KɔlIn WIliamsɔn and; Ae wɛnt tu θə stor (I went to the store). Diction is a huge part of our classes and we study all four of those languages.

Do you play other instruments as well besides your vocals?

I started playing trumpet in seventh grade at Boltz Jr. High School. I played for about eight years, into my first year at UNC. I play piano terribly and guitar casually. I love playing guitar, it’s the perfect way to express myself when I’m feeling suffocated by opera. Slamming out a few power chords and singing some Blink 182 really helps me relax. I have a trumpet, keyboard, electric guitar, acoustic and bass.

What has been your favorite performance so far, and why?

My favorite performance so far? That’s a hard one. I loved singing in the chorus for Opera Fort Collins production of “Carmen.” This was a few years ago and re-ignited my passion for singing. This past Christmas was my first professional role with OFC (Opera Fort Collins) when I played the page in Amahl and the Night Visitors. At CSU, I loved playing the lead in last semester’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.

Last but not least, what’s it like to be apart of such talented people at the UCA here at CSU?

I love being at CSU. When I started college in 2006, UNC was the place to go. Over the past eight years, CSU has absolutely exploded with amazing teachers and students. It has grown so much and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Collegian entertainment staff writer Makaela Bamonti can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.