Ania Hejnar

Ania Hejnar

Ania Hejnar

Photography  @rothbauerphoto

Photography @rothbauerphoto

So, you are an Ottawa based Soprano singer? 

I am!  I have lived in Ottawa since I was 18 to attend the University of Ottawa, and currently sing Classical, Crossover, and Pop.  After completing my Undergrad and Masters in Vocal Performance, I was the Soprano for Opera Lyra Studio for two seasons.  I began teaching voice and received my Suzuki violin training during my Masters. I currently make my living through teaching and performing, and recently began my journey to singing Crossover music, which is basically Classical and Modern music together.  It appeals to many different of audiences, and I really enjoy performing it.  These experiences have led to performances like singing O Canada for Prime Minister Trudeau on multiple occasions, and performing at Ottawa Redblacks games. More recently, I was accepted to AMTI's roster, a local talent agency, and have been experiencing a little acting and modelling as well. 

How old were you when music became part of your life?

My mother has her University degree in Violin Performance, and was a part of the Kingston Symphony Orchestra when we moved to Canada from Germany.  I was born in Cologne, but my parents and family are from Poland.  I picked up my first violin when I was two and learned to play quite quickly.  I knew at a young age though, that I loved to sing.  I remember a friend in kindergarten asking me to stop "waving my voice" (I think she put it) when we sang in class.  I somehow knew this was vibrato. In grade four, my friends would ask for me to sing during recess.  There were people in my life who told me that I needed to make sure I had a back up career choice, because singing wasn't really a career, or a reasonable one.  But I knew then, that this was my calling.


When did you first get into Opera?

I first got into Opera when I sang Maria from West Side Story.  I was 16, and realized I could hit high notes pretty easily.  I attempted some songs from The Phantom of the Opera, and Christine goes up to a high E.  My friend and I were jamming, and eventually I sang up to the high E.  My parents wanted me to go to University for my post secondary education, so we got in touch with a couple of great classically trained voice teachers, and I started taking more focused voice lessons.  The classical technique is distinct and defined.  I was approaching it a little later than I should have, by only a couple years, and am thankful I got into it when I did.  It felt natural and comfortable to me.  In University, I started studying Art Songs and Operas, and really enjoyed the art and disciplined technique behind it.  Sometimes I tell my students that much like a prima ballerina, singers need to study the intricate details whether it is the style of the voice to the history of the time period.

You have won awards, studied and travelled with your music career including New York and the NYCO. Was there a point when you were in disbelief? 

I feel like winning awards in my early 20's was certainly a blessing.  I was able to participate in masterclasses with highly regarded performers, and made many connections.  My point of disbelief never stops, because I am so lucky to get work, and with some incredible musicians out there.  But I would say my biggest moment of disbelief happened when I performed with L'orchestre Metropolitain from Montreal.  I had won 1st place in the Canadian Music Competition and we performed in front of my biggest audience yet, about 3000 people.  I received a standing ovation and I was most definitely in disbelief!  There is a part of me that wishes I did not get too comfortable, if that makes sense?  Having a little bit of uncertainty can drive you a little further.  But I think many of us feel like we can go further, do more.  I am enjoying what the present and future bring, and continue to strive further. 


Carnegie Hall?! 

What an experience that was! I performed in the Weill recital hall two times, after winning 1st place in an International voice competition.  It was an honour to be among talented artists from all over the world.  New York City is such an incredible place to visit.

What is your favourite venue?  

There are so many amazing venues I have been lucky to perform in...but my most recent experience at Maison Symphonique with Mundia Productions in Montreal would probably be a close top favourite, along with the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and the National Arts Centre here in Ottawa.  The acoustics are perfect, and it takes hardly any effort to sing!


I heard you performed for Stephen Harper! What was that like? 

When I was in University, I was accepted to Calixa-Lavallee, a prestigious choir run by Professor Laurence Ewashko.  For a Christmas performance, the choir was invited to perform on the steps of Parliament Hill, where Mr. Harper and his family sat.  I remember seeing him and feeling so proud.  It was also very cold that evening, I remember, but to be put on the spotlight like that with the choir was elating!

When you aren’t focused on music what do you do?

I am a mommy to a beautiful almost 3 year old girl.  So I spend time with her as much as I can.  We like to sing, play piano, and even violin!  I also teach music to children and adults, primarily at the Glebe Montessori School and my private studio in my home.  At GMS, I direct a children's musical every year for the Juniors and Seniors, and prepare the younger students for a Winter Concert.  I provide three concert opportunities for my private students around Ottawa as well. Lastly, I have been busy driving for auditions to Toronto or Montreal with AMTI.  So, I stay quite busy all year around!


What is your favourite food?

Seafood! Hands down, seafood.  I am a big foodie in general, so I really like experiencing all different cultures and their cuisine. 

How has Ottawa supported your music career? 

I find Ottawa has a small music scene in comparison to bigger places like Toronto or Montreal for obvious reasons.  This has been an advantage for me, because I have received so much support.  There are a variety of organizations who include me with their performances, and I am very thankful for that.  I enjoy giving back to the community as well, by volunteering in retirement homes with my studio, or providing opportunities for children to perform. 


What is your favourite thing about Ottawa? 

We have beautiful parks, water surroundings, and great restaurants.  You can be a tourist and go to places that you didn't even know existed, only 20 mins away from home.  My all time favourite thing to do, although I do not do it as often as I would like, is kayak on the Rideau Canal from Dow's lake.  You can rent a kayak and paddle towards downtown.  There's nothing like it!

The Momo Spot

The Momo Spot

David Gourlay

David Gourlay