Alumnus Interview – Milnes VOICE Studio

Oct 18, 2017

Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, tenor

What’s it like being in the Milnes VOICE Studio? Hear the stories straight from our alumni.

After leaving the VOICE Studio this summer, Jonathan left for sunny Santa Barbara, California. He’s been sailing, singing, and growing as an artist, and we’re excited to reconnect with him!

What was your first experience with opera?

I attended a double bill of The Telephone and The Old Maid and the Thief my freshman year of undergrad and from then on I was HOOKED.

Who or what inspired you to start singing?

My parents inspired me to sing. From day one my parents always supported anything myself or my siblings wanted to do. When my parents realized I could sing, they encouraged me to use the gift that I had.

What was your biggest takeaway from VOICExperience?

I learned so much about myself as a performer and the brand that I am hopeful to put out in the professional world.

What was your favorite memory from VOICExperience? Any funny moments or vocal epiphanies?

One of my favorite moments was simply just working with all of the amazing faculty and staff. It was truly and honor and it made each day so amazing because we essentially worked with a different person every day.

Why should artists participate in summer programs like VOICExperience?

Artists should do programs like VOICExperience because you get EVERYTHING out of it. You learn about the craft working with people who are IN it. You are exposed to other artists who are at your current level or higher making a career in the field.

What are you working on right now? Any programs or performances coming up?

I currently am a Mosher Studio Artist with Opera Santa Barbara for the 2017-2018 season. We are currently working on the show Manon, in which I am the cover for Des Grieux and performing in the ensemble. In the spring, I will be performing in three different operas. First off, I will be covering Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, then following I will be playing the role of Donald Hopewell in Douglas Moore’s Gallantry and finally to wrap up the season I will be in the trio Trouble in Tahiti written by Leonard Bernstein. In addition to the productions as a studio artist, it is our job to perform in outreach concerts in schools and libraries all throughout the southern California area.


We loved having Jonathan participate in our program this summer. In our final Scenes Concert, he played the role of Eisenstein in the Act​ ​One​ ​Trio​ from Die​ ​Fledermaus and Rodolfo in the Third​ ​Act​ ​Quartet​ from La​ ​Boheme. We are excited to see where he goes from here!