Coffee with Miriam Khalil

Article Written by Stephen Bell- Marketing-Development @coffeescreative

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At Coffeeshop Creative we are not only passionate about designing and developing a unique web presence for our clients, but also sharing their story. We are super excited to introduce our new series of blogs- Grabbing Coffee. Today’s feature, soprano, Miriam Khalil!  We recently caught up with Miriam, discussed her story, and asked her questions while designing her upcoming website launch.


So sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and get ready to meet soprano – Miriam Khalil




What inspired you to pursue singing?


I have been singing ever since I can remember. However, I was inspired to pursue singing when I was in high school and had decided that I wanted to become a music therapist after doing a co-op program in Music Therapy for year. I needed to study music in University if I wanted to eventually major in Music Therapy and my voice teacher at the time convinced me that I needed to major in voice and give it a real shot. The big shift took place when I was in my first opera workshop class. We were working on Les Dialogues des Carmélites. I was in the chorus and I was totally hooked.




Tell us about your experience with singing O Canada as the first singer to record an Arabic ‘O Canada


When I was asked to sing the Canadian national anthem in Arabic by the Canadian Arab Institute, I was very nervous about the responsibility that it held. I understood what a huge honour it is to be asked and I was very excited to sing our national anthem in my native tongue (I was born in Damascus, Syria and moved to Canada when I was seven). It was all at once familiar and brand new and I felt a really deep connection with the text. When the video was released, I was overwhelmed by the response that it received. I was so happy that it reached so many on the same visceral level that I had felt when singing it. There were negative responses too. Ones that are maybe not worth mentioning but it made it that much more clear to me how important a project like this is. We as Canadians pride ourselves on being a tapestry of cultures and consider ourselves open and inclusive of everyone. In my circle, I feel this to be so true. It was important to branch out and reach those that are not as open. How else are we to become a more tolerant and loving society if we don’t share our cultures and traditions with one another?

My traditions are entwined in my language, in my music and my day to day experiences. I’m thankful for any opportunity to share that with others in any capacity.


Musical inspiration / guiding people who have inspired you?


Whitney Houston…Greatest Love of All.  I wouldn’t be singing if it weren’t for her and this song.

Jean MacPhail was my teacher when I moved to Toronto from Ottawa to do my Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School. Jean gave me permission to take risks, learn who I was as an artist and that it’s ok to fail. As a teacher she didn’t just teach me technique but she gave me ownership of my artistry. I didn’t know how to implement it when I was studying with Jean but I remember distinctly that she tried to teach me patience. Stick it out and it will get better. Be patient with yourself and go on your own journey, it will be different than anyone else’s. I’m very indebted to her.

After my last year in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio I attended COSI’s inaugural summer music program where I met Wendy Nielsen. She was a bit of a legend (and of course continues to be). She has since helped me find my way through many vocal transitions and is one of the most supportive and understanding people that I know. I have learned so much from Wendy. Balance is a big one. From her, I have learned that everything is a choice and that you can also be happy if that’s what you chose. Singing is what we do, it is not who we are. We can find solutions to anything if we look at it from all angles. 


Favorite production and onstage experience


My favourite production and experience to this date is David McVicar’s Giulio Cesare at the Glyndebourne Festival. Glyndebourne is an opera house in the English countryside. It’s absolutely beautiful there and so easy to feel inspired to do great things. I was covering the role of Cleopatra and I ended up going on in one of the shows which felt like a dream come true at the time. [Side note: I’m not sure if you’ve seen this production but if you haven’t, it’s totally worth sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and passing on Netflix. It’s Handel at its best and it’s absolutely breathtaking. The whole thing is choreographed, moves so smoothly and effortlessly from one number to another and it’s wonderful story telling.] I learned a lot on that show. I learned that I can sing and dance (at the same time!), and that I can throw myself into the unknown and land on my feet. Some pretty big lessons that I’m grateful to have learned in such an amazing place.



And Most Importantly… Favourite type of Coffee?


I’m a tea drinker…my favourite tea is Twinings’ Lady Grey (with milk).

The closest to coffee I get is a Chai latte… Don’t hate me.

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