Staff Pick: Julia Bullock

By Brian Potter on April 26, 2018

When we first had the pleasure of hearing Julia Bullock in 2013—first in Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle at the Perelman Theater and later at that summer's Marlboro Music Festival—it was immediately apparent that here was a star in the making. That the Society would present her Philadelphia recital debut was merely a question of when.

Fast forward a few years, and we could not be more excited to bring this "complete, empowered singer" (Los Angeles Times) back to Philadelphia on Tuesday, May 15 as she embarks upon the first major recital tour of her career.

Julia Bullock

The 31-year-old, St. Louis-born soprano offers an ambitious, wide-ranging program that is "very much about the empowerment of women, whether in songs by Schubert or Nina Simone" (Los Angeles Times). She has performed this program—which also features works by Barber, Fauré, Billie Holiday, and more—in recent weeks in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, and critics have not been stinting in their praise of her "intrepid artistic spirit and voice of wide-ranging hues" (The New Yorker). Furthermore, they're hailing her as a trail blazer who is "fighting for social justice one song at a time" (Pacific Standard). The following reviews will whet your appetite further.

  • "Note for note, the singing was sensational. Bullock's voice is deeply rich and richly deep... On a single word, her face could show several emotions — sly, happy, sad, disturbed, OK, not OK. She made, to a degree that I think is new in classical music, the black experience a universal one." —Mark Swed, "Kathleen Battle, Julia Bullock and the saga of opera singers of color," Los Angeles Times
  • "Bullock and Arida presented a recital that revealed a singer who is musicologically driven and a little rebellious." —Stephanie Adrian, "Soprano Julia Bullock pushes through opera stereotypes in Spivey Hall recital," ArtsATL
  • "For several years now, Bullock has astonished audiences with her needle-precise sensitivity, her ability to deliver frequencies of emotion that can alter the way we hear a classic, as well as with the unusual color of her voice: plush and creamy like a mezzo’s, but with a soaring attack at the top of the range reminiscent of a young Leontyne." —Joel Rosen, It takes a woman, Parterre Box

Eloquent on and off the stage, Julia also offers refreshing perspectives on the joys and challenges of being a classical music singer. "Our job as performers is to educate, engage, and entertain, and I do hope to satisfy those three things," she says in her recent Carnegie Hall Artist Portrait.

Another nugget of wisdom: "Musical language evolves only if you know from where you've come," she tells the Pacific Standard in this engaging interview.

We hope you can join us on May 15 at 8 pm at the Philosophical Society to experience first hand how "Julia Bullock doesn't just sing to her audience. She connects with it" (Democrat and Chronicle). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online or by calling our box office at 215-569-8080.

Watch Julia Bullock's recent appearance on the New York Times's "In Performance."