Claire McCahan posingShoes off, iPad out, nothing in pockets, please don’t confiscate my snacks … I pass through security in the Denver airport and head down the now familiar grey walkways. In the past three months, I’ve spent enough time away from home to make my own bed feel like a vacation. I am on the road yet again, seeking what many young opera artists in my position are hungry for: opportunity. The chance to be heard, valued and employed in a competitive field within an industry struggling to redefine its relevance. Is this dismal? Maybe. Or perhaps, like many things experiencing change, opera is allowed complexity. In seeking to maneuver this uncertain path, like many music students do upon graduation, I ask myself:

How can I take care of myself? 

Developing the Whole Musician is a CU group that offers therapy from which every music student can benefit: breathing exercises, meditation and a safe space to share fears, doubts and insecurities. Because of it, I feel more free in my music making and more accepting of and patient with myself, and I have a new foundation of resilience. It’s the type of work that has helped me to face pain and to achieve healing by welcoming openness to the world and what it may bring.

How might I continue to seek diverse opportunities I am passionate about? 

I love classical singing. The repertoire I study is remarkable in its capacity for complex and evocative expression. This year, I added Mozart’s endearing character Cherubino to my repertoire during the Eklund Opera Program production of Le nozze di Figaro. Outside of opera, I have performed as a soloist and ensemble member exploring the genius of baroque-era music; I have performed newly written works with CU New Opera Workshop and the Pendulum New Music concert series; and my relationships at the College of Music have led to further projects, such as singing on a movie soundtrack and performing with an international ambient rock band. I even pursued a project combining artistic practice with scientific research and won the College of Music’s Centennial song contest. Looking back at these experiences, I see a breadth of possibility for my future music making that will include a colorful array of creative projects that appeal to my values.

How will I hold failure as well as success? 

Looking out of the plane window at the outline of the Rocky Mountains, I feel ready: ready to take a risk and not know the whole picture of my future. Supported by teachers, friends and family, I believe in the value of what I have to offer and am inspired by my colleagues and the CU alumni who have forged their paths before me. This community helped me grow as a professional artist, one who is able to take criticism, manage her time and energy and trust her instincts. I am ready to strive, and to fail, and to strive again, and will always look for the next opportunity.