“I get to sing ‘In the Still of the Night,’ which is for sure my favorite Cole Porter song. I’m really excited.”
The Denver native graduates this May with a master’s degree in voice performance, and after turns in opera classics “Die Fledermaus,” “The Magic Flute,” “L'incoronazione di Poppea” and “Così fan tutte,” she’s looking forward to going out on a slightly different note.
“‘Red Hot and Cole’ is really more musical theatre than opera,” she says. “It’s also wonderful to be able to work with [Professor of Theatre and director] Bud Coleman. He’s an amazing person and a brilliant director.”
Music is in Hill’s blood: Her father is principal timpanist for the Colorado Symphony, her mother is a violinist and her brother Colin is a junior jazz drum major at CU. Hill started playing violin as a child and since then, music has been intertwined with everything in her life.
“It’s hard to say exactly why music is so important, because for me, it’s just necessary and omnipresent. It’s as much of a need to me as eating, breathing or sleeping.”
Anyone who’s watched Hill perform can plainly see that passion shining through in her skill and engaging stage presence. So, with all that natural musical talent going for her, why computer programming?
A series of twists and turns altered Hill’s vision of her future, after a couple of bouts with tendinitis put her violin career in jeopardy. The second time the condition flared up—while she was an undergraduate violinist at the University of Michigan—she saw herself at a fork in the road.
“I got tendinitis in my back, neck and arms horribly my freshman year—to the point where I couldn’t play,” she recalls. “So my roommate suggested I try voice lessons for fun. After about six months, I got into the voice program there.”
Fast forward to her time at CU Boulder, and Hill has had roles in five operas, seemingly putting the uncertainty of the past behind her. But for a perfectionist, it wasn’t enough.
“After my first year of grad school, I was overwhelmed by the possibility that I might not be able to support myself as a musician. So I started teaching myself to code; then I took a 10-week intensive course in Boulder.
“I’ll always be a singer and a violinist, but now I’ll always be a computer programmer as well. The world of professional musicians is notoriously financially unpredictable, so there’s something comforting in knowing that while I have the skills to be a professional performer, I can also always know where my next meal is coming from.”
Now Hill, who manages the website for the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestras in her free time, has yet another creative outlet.
“Coding is definitely an art form in itself,” she says. “To make a successful website, it has to be fun, easy to navigate, and personalized for each individual business, which ends up feeling like solving puzzles all day. I also love programming dorky and entertaining little Easter eggs into websites—with the business’s permission, of course!”
And as if that weren’t enough on her plate, violin is also still very much a part of her life. Once a week, Hill makes the trek south of Denver, where she sits as concertmaster for the Parker Symphony.
She says she’s able to do it because singing helped her get her health issues under control.
“Singing is such a different approach to music than violin that I found I was actually able to play violin better after I started singing,” she says. “Physically, I found tension singing where no one was able to see it before. And that helped me feel a lot better, too.”
As her time in Boulder draws to a close, the Jill of All Trades hopes to put her many skills to use wherever her path leads her next. And she’ll look fondly on the lessons she learned and friends she made at the College of Music.
“I’ll really miss working with such amazing colleagues and teachers,” she says. “I’ve been really lucky to be surrounded by incredibly supportive people here.”
“Red Hot and Cole” is Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30. For tickets, visit CUPresents.org.