2018 Summer Retreat Artist Interview: Laura Mitchell

 Alcina, 2016. Photo credit: Samer Ghanem

Alcina, 2016. Photo credit: Samer Ghanem

During our annual retreat, we work closely with a select group of artists to sing, brainstorm and clarify career goals, unwind, and have fun. Core Artist and Operations Director Laura Mitchell will lead this year's website and online hosting workshops and will sing in the SVAN Summer Classical Series and a private house concert. Read on for our interview with her!

Moments Like This

August 13th @ 7:00pm

Mayfield Presbyterian Church

22 North Main St

Mayfield, NY 12117

Presented by the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network. Admission: $12 General Admission; $10 SVAN Members; Free for those under 18 years.

Laura, thank you for helping to make this third annual retreat possible! Tell us a bit about yourself: who are you, where you’re from, and what you do.

I'm from Prunedale, California! My day job is as a Sr. Business Systems Analyst for a big data analytics firm, and my passion-project job is working as Operations Director at CantantiPROJECT. I'm also a big fan of astronomy, astrophotography, literature, and craft beer!

 Laura Mitchell as Arcetro in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Laura Mitchell as Arcetro in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Why did you become interested in astronomy?

Actively, about 4 years ago maybe? I saw the images from Hubble of the Pillars of Creation that were released in the mid-90s and thought they were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen! I ended up decorating my living room in pictures of planetary nebulas taken by Hubble. A few years back I got involved with the Amateur Astronomer's Association in NYC in order to take some classes, and discovered that I also really enjoyed astrophotography!

Can you share a few of your astronomy photos (and tell us what the photos are of)? 

The one with the boats has the Pleiades in it, there is one of the Milky Way, and another I took just last June of the stars reflected in the surface of the lake, it was perfectly still for about 2 minutes!

 Milky Way. The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell 

Milky Way. The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell 

 The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell

The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell

 The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell

The Pleiades. Photo credit: Laura Mitchell

On average, how many books do you read a month? What's something you've read recently that you'd recommend to others?

A few, depends on what I'm working on. Right now my friend Tom and I are bashing through James Joyce's Ulysses, which has taken over 2 months. :( 

How did you get into singing?

My mother was the leader of the children's choir at church, so of course all my siblings and I were drafted in to it! 

 Laura Mitchell as Medoro and Lydia Dahling as Dorinda in Orlando. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Laura Mitchell as Medoro and Lydia Dahling as Dorinda in Orlando. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

What else have you been up to this summer?

Spent a week in a cabin with no electricity or cell phone service. It was magical!

Any projects coming up, whether music-related or not, that you’re especially excited about?

Excited to try out my telescope at the retreat; the sky is so clear in Northville. Also looking forward to singing in Teseo with Cantanti Project next May!

We're still in early planning stages for Teseo, but what are you initial impressions about this opera? 

It's cool that it was written almost entirely for female/high voices! 

 Laura Mitchell as Alcina and Rachel Selan as Ruggiero in Alcina. Photo credit: Samer Ghanem

Laura Mitchell as Alcina and Rachel Selan as Ruggiero in Alcina. Photo credit: Samer Ghanem

You’ll be singing some great pieces during the retreat! Which is your favorite and why?

I'm really looking forward to singing "Can't Get a Man with a Gun" from Annie Get Your Gun. I only get to sing musical theater at these retreats! It's a nice break from the more serious rep, and it's hilarious.