Feb 4, 2022
Alumna and renowned opera singer Kimberly Hernandez visited campus to perform at our Martin Luther King Day of Impact.
"It felt so different, but yet the same, to be back on campus. So many areas still feel like home even after all these years," she explained.
Raised in Lakeland, Kimberly always loved Florida Southern, the Lakeland community, and the idea of staying close to home for college. As a music performance major, Kimberly worked on every aspect of her craft, while immersed in music theory and history. Opportunities to perform through FSC's Festival of Fine Arts program, allowed her to build the professional performance experience she needed to land a spot at Valdosta State University, where she earned her master’s degree in Vocal Performance. After graduate school, Kimberly spent six weeks at the top summer music program in Europe, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, allowing her to study opera and lieder repertoire, and providing opportunities to work with renowned European conductors.
In her short career, the mezzo-soprano has garnered title roles and impressive awards, winning the 2019 Coeur d'Alene Young Artist Competition, the 2018 John Alexander Vocal Competition through the Mississippi Opera, and the winner of the 2018 Valdosta State University Concerto Competition. She's also had the opportunity to perform on some of the world's most prestigious stages, including the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg.
She believes that FSC, her education, and connections made here led her to where she is today. Here's why choosing Florida Southern was the best' Opera-tunity' for Kimberly and her career.
Q: During your time a Florida Southern, what did you study?
A: Music: Vocal Performance Class of 2011
Q: What drew you to the Music program at Florida Southern?
A: Growing up in a tight-knit community like Lakeland, I knew I wanted a more intimate program. Because I chose FSC, I was able to have the 'big fish in a small pond' feel. I was able to perform on stage starting in my second semester!
Q: What were your relationships with your professors?
A: They honestly were all so fantastic. The voice faculty were just exceptional; you genuinely learn something from each of them. Once I knew I wanted to study voice, I followed Dr. John Thomasson. He was such a fantastic artist and has become a tremendous mentor, even to this day. When I moved to Berlin, Germany, in 2019, I was able to catch up with him in Saltsburg, Austria, and attended his masterclass at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg. It was amazing being able to study with him after all these years.
Q: For someone who wants to perform, why not go to New York or Chicago. What made you choose FSC?
A: I was raised in Lakeland my whole life. Being 18 and moving across the country to New York seemed very overwhelming. I also knew that what I wanted out of my college career, I could get here in Florida. I only applied to Florida Southern, Florida State, and Stetson. Florida Southern truly seemed like the best choice for the college experience I wanted.
Q: What is the most unique performance opportunity you have had?
A: Performing around Europe was the highlight of my performance life. One of the most incredible performances I've done was in 2019 for a Revival in Orlando, FL, for Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop for the Episcopal church. There were over 5000 people there! Fun Fact, Bishop Michael Curry also presided over Meghan and Harry's royal wedding!
Q: Are there any special connections that helped you in the industry?
A: Honestly, the opera -theatre department has aided me the most in my professional life. Thanks to them, I have the leading roles on my resume. It's truly a special bond that is created, and the hands-on experience was extremely valuable.
Q: Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to share?
A: It's really important to really work hard. Focus on your craft and give it 100% of your attention. I spent a lot of time working and doing other things I felt like I had to do, but if I could do it again, I would try to focus on what I truly wanted and would've reached out for help. It's a unique opportunity to be at a school like FSC, so you should be 100% present while you're there.
How you can travel the world while doing what you love? Major in music performance →
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