Julia Hollander on reading and singing

Article | Jan 2023

Julia Hollander is a singing therapist, teacher and performer. At the age of 25, she was the first female opera director at the English National Opera, and she has staged operas all over the world including for Victoria State Opera. Julia is the author of Chicken Coops for the Soul and When the Bough Breaks. Her new book is Why we Sing.

Good Reading caught up with Julia to find out what she likes to read.


What are you reading now?

Annie Ernaux’s A Girl’s story

Favourite books as a child?

Any Laura Ingles Wilder, Stig of the Dump and Paddington Bear (in opposing order chronologically)

Books which made you laugh out loud?

Ben Elton’s This other Eden and Gita Mehta’s Karma Cola

Books you have never forgotten?

George Elliot’s Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible and Unsheltered.

When did you first realise you loved to sing?

 At church when I was seven.

What happens physically when we sing?

We vibrate and resonate and use a much bigger capacity than usual, not only with our breath but also our emotional self-expression. Everyone should sing. The neurologists say 2.5 per cent of us can’t do it because we don’t have the wiring but maybe even those people can join in in some way, with a beat maybe?

If you were to invite six people, alive or dead, to a dinner for six, who would they be?

I’d want them to be good conversationalists and good singers as my dinner parties always entail singing! Plus I’d want to cover all four voice parts so we could do interesting a capella harmonising. So – on the top line I’d have Freddy Mercury and Jenny Lind, on alto I’d invite Nina Simone to join me, for tenors it would have to be Jussi Bjorling and Jose Carreras and on the bottom Tito Gobbi and Frank Zappa as an extra guest, to spar with Nina and me and also balance out the voice parts

Author: Julie Hollander

Category: Biography & true stories, Non-Fiction, The arts

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760879686

RRP: $34.99

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