Far and Near Artist Interview: Aumna Iqbal

 Photo credit: Aiden K. Feltkamp

Photo credit: Aiden K. Feltkamp

This summer, we are reuniting with wonderful artists from past projects. Mezzo Aumna Iqbal of MAGIC AND MAYHEM and Orfeo in EURIDICE joins us for FAR AND NEAR, a concert of classical and popular music that explores distances both big and small. 

Far and Near

June 25th @ 7:30pm

United Palace of Cultural Arts

1410 Broadway, NYC 10033

Free admission, please RSVP below!

Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and what do you do?

I am a performer, and I sing opera, concert work, new music, and have done Shakespeare. I'm currently co-directing a piece called The Times Are Nightfall by Ross Crean, which will be a world premiere of a micro opera that is the lesbian sequel to Don Giovanni.

 Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

What part of NYC do you live in? And what’s your favorite thing about living there?

I live in Hamilton Heights, and my favorite thing about living there is the Audubon Mural Project- every single metal grate on every shop has a wild bird painted on it, so it looks beautiful even when everything is closed. I'm a bit of a bird nut.

We know you're a proud bird parent! Can you share a picture or two of your birds?

Yes! The bird I have here is named Sunshine, and I have Alton Brown, Pineapple, Salt, Pepper, Snowcone, Coconut, Little Blue, and Kiwi in California with my parents.

 Sunshine. Photo courtesy of Aumna Iqbal

Sunshine. Photo courtesy of Aumna Iqbal

 From left to right: Pepper, Kiwi, Salt, Pineapple, Coconut, Snowcone, Alton Brown and Little Blue in my hand. Photo courtesy of Aumna Iqbal

From left to right: Pepper, Kiwi, Salt, Pineapple, Coconut, Snowcone, Alton Brown and Little Blue in my hand. Photo courtesy of Aumna Iqbal

The theme of Far and Near is the distance between where you are and where you long to be, both literally and figuratively. Have you been on any interesting journeys lately?

I just got back from California, the first time going back since I moved to the City. I was there to do the Brahms Alto Rhapsody, and I was struck by how the weather was actually better in New York! And also how going back to a place it's never quite the same because you change as a person.

Have you changed since moving to NYC and how so?

I think I've changed in that I'm actually far less stressed than I was when I initially moved here and also when I lived in California. I've put more of a value on quality time spent with people than on hustling just for the sake of hustling. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy hard work, it's just that I think my focus has changed towards the quality of the work that I do rather than the quantity.

 Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

 Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

We believe music is meant to be shared and can be life-changing. How has music shaped your life?

Music has taken me all around the world and taught me languages I didn't know I would speak, as well as given me the voice and the courage to be who I am. Music gave me a space to be myself before I was able to come to terms with my queerness in the wider world.

If you could travel back in time and have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

I would have dinner with Mozart 'cause he seems like a fun guy, and also I'm in love with him.

Which Mozart role outside your fach would you love to perform and why?

Outside...? What is this outside my fach you speak of? Mezzos have the best roles! I wanted to be a Susanna when I was in undergrad, but I also thought I was a soprano back then. At this point probably Commendatore- just rock up, sing the most iconic part of the opera, and you get the best makeup always.

 Aumna Iqbal in Magic and Mayhem, mask by Claire Townsend. Photo credit: Orlando Mendiola

Aumna Iqbal in Magic and Mayhem, mask by Claire Townsend. Photo credit: Orlando Mendiola

Dream vacation destination?

Right now it's anywhere with a beach and pina coladas. I just want a super chill vacation. Longer term I want to visit Thailand and Japan.

Far and Near is part of the Lobby Series at the United Palace of Cultural Arts, an important arts and community resource, and also the Uptown Arts Stroll, a month-long festival celebrating the arts in Northern Manhattan. Can you share an experience you've had in which music helped bring a community together?

I worked for Pacific Symphony for their educational series on Leonard Bernstein, and at the end of the year we held 10 separate morning concerts attended by 2000 schoolchildren at each concert, coming from different school districts around Orange County, and I witnessed and led many glorious sing-alongs to the music they had worked on so hard all year. It was quite literally the most powerful, largest, and singular coming together of disparate communities I've ever seen, and moved me to tears at the end of each concert. "Let Your Garden Grow" will do that though.

 

Join Aumna on June 25th for FAR AND NEAR. Please make sure to RSVP for this event!

 Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo, with Elyse Anne Kakacek and Laura Mitchell in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo, with Elyse Anne Kakacek and Laura Mitchell in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

 Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski

Aumna Iqbal as Orfeo in Euridice. Photo credit: Lucas Godlewski