November 4, 2013
Hello all! I hope this letter finds you all well and happy with your studies and lives in Montréal. My name is Joshua Abrego and I graduated from my Masters in Voice performance in 2012 from McGill University at the Schulich School of Music. Now I have the immense pleasure of starting my career as an Opera singer. I am writing to you from Calgary, Alberta where I have stted my first contract with an opera company (Calgary Opera). I have now been here for a little over a month and am in my 4th week of work here. Unfortunately, Calgary is not as nice a city as Montréal. It’s much colder (believe it or not) and it feels very bland as a city. There are plenty of buildings to go buy things and work, but there isn’t much in the way of culture, museums, parks, or landmarks. The landscape is very flat and everything is very spread out (so if you don’t have a car you basically have to commute for a LONG bus/train ride or you need to live in the heart of downtown). I am fortunately living downtown in the busiest areas of the city so I don’t have to worry about travelling much. I do miss hearing the familiar Québecois accents and seeing the french signs and stores.
I’ve had a few performances already with the company and we’re being trained on a daily basis (which I’m very thankful for). We get private lessons every day as well as yoga, movement and acting classes. It’s kind of like an internship program where everything is catered to our development and personal needs. I’m very blessed to be in a program where I have the flexibility and time to focus on my own progress rather than delivering something for the company.
In terms of my relationship with God and the church, I have been going to mass at a couple of churches here; one of them is called St-Pius X and the other is called Sacred Heart. They are both nice churches with active ministers which is nice, but I haven’t had the chance to really get to know anyone yet. I’ve been told that Calgary has a very lively Catholic youth community so I’ll have to find out how I can become involved.
I do miss the Newman center very much. For those of you who are there for the first time, please take advantage of it! I was blessed to live at the Newman center for 3 years and to be involved with the community for nearly 7. There is no other place that I’ve seen like it! The sincerity, friendship, love and humour that you find at this center is so unique and wonderful that once you are no longer able to partake in it anymore, you feel it very deeply in your heart. The friends that you’ll make there are true friends that you’ll want to keep in touch with for as long as you can.
I don’t plan on staying long in Calgary (such is the nature of Opera singers). My contract ends in May 2014 and I want to go to another big city where I can further develop my skills and meet new artists so I can train and learn more! Who knows, maybe I’ll be in Montreal again one day.
Those of you who are on the fence about getting involved with the Newman center somehow, DO IT! Join the Newman choir! Do something in the Coffee house! Cook meals for Saturday Night Supper! Become a part of the student council! The more you give and participate in the Newman society, the more it gives back to you! It will enrich your lives and bless you with such joy and love that you will not experience otherwise in your university lives. This place is an oasis amidst the difficult university life and the metropolis that is Montréal!
I wish you all the best and pray for all of you