PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Classical singer Julia Bullock’s resonating vocals filled The Lindemann Performing Arts Center at Brown University on a mid-January evening, as she delivered the first public performance in the 295-seat recital configuration of the venue’s main hall.
Accompanied by pianist Bretton Brown, the rising-star soprano commanded the attention of the sold-out audience as she sang in multiple languages and styles, from French opera and Rodgers and Hammerstein, to the African American spiritual “Deep River.”
“It’s wonderful to be here performing in this brand-new space — how amazing,” Bullock said during her Providence performance, two days before she was scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Bullock’s concert marked the first 2024 event in the Brown Arts Institute’s IGNITE series, a constellation of creative performances and activations that launched in October with the opening of The Lindemann in the University’s Perelman Arts District and will run through the end of the calendar year.
The performance showcased The Lindemann’s one-of-a-kind approach to spatial, acoustic and technical flexibility, along with Bullock’s talent, said Avery Willis Hoffman, artistic director of the Brown Arts Institute.
“Julia is an artistic innovator who pushes disciplinary boundaries, and we wanted to honor her artistry and advocacy by inviting her to perform as the first singer to perform in the recital configuration of The Lindemann’s main hall,” Hoffman said.
Bullock's recital provided a first-time opportunity for staff to acoustically tune the space in that specific configuration, which can accommodate up to 388 seats. Before and during the recital, professional acousticians worked with BAI staff and the performers to make sure the acoustic reflective panels and curtains were set up optimally.
“The acoustically excellent recital configuration invites audiences into an intimate artistic experience with the performers and inspires dynamic artmaking and collaboration,” Hoffman said.
The main hall can also be arranged into a concert hall for orchestra and choir, an end-stage theater, a media cube, and a large flat floor-style for performance and events. All six surfaces of the shoebox-shaped hall modulate physically and/or acoustically through automated and manually assisted performance equipment.
As part of his campus visit, pianist Bretton Brown, who is also a vocal coach and on the faculty at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, hosted an intensive public work session in The Lindemann with two Brown students studying singing and three students from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
“A session like this is always interesting and nerve-wracking,” Brown said to the students. “You have to perform and will also immediately receive feedback. My job is to tell you as clearly and honestly what I hear. And your job is to be open to that.”