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Hub for Good

Meet Julie. Julie Nesrallah is a Carleton music grad (BA/95), mezzo-soprano and host of CBC Music’s Tempo, Canada’s national classical music program.

With all of her musical performances in the coming months cancelled, Julie has found that she has a little extra time on her hands these days. Like many of us, she’s taken to scrolling through Twitter “a little more than usual” (translation: constantly—or is that just me?).

During her quaran-scrolling, she came across a breathtaking video of an Italian tenor serenading his quarantined city from his balcony.

Moved by the video, Julie retweeted it.

“I didn’t think much of it at the time,” Julie recalls with a chuckle. “I retweeted it and said something like ‘Should I do this in Toronto?’

Within minutes, the tweets and retweets came flooding in—friends and fans encouraging her to film a similar video. So she did.

“I got glammed up—because why not—and went out on my balcony at sunset. I sang ‘O Sole Mio,’ in part to show solidarity with Italians but also because of its meaning; the song is about the sun coming out after a storm.”

The video went viral.

Julie reflects: “It really snowballed and caught fire. And now there’s this trend—which I by no means started—of artists sharing their craft. Opera singers on balconies, pianists in living rooms, guitarists rocking out at home.

“It’s a beautiful way to add sparkle and joy to someone’s day. But it’s important for the artists, too. Artists need to perform. It contributes to our own wellbeing and mental health. For me, as soon as I finished singing, I felt so much better.

“So these artists going out and singing for people is really a multi-level thing: they need to do it for themselves, and people need to hear it.”

When asked how she’s feeling about the current situation, Julie became thoughtful. “My overarching feeling is that I want everyone to be OK after this is all over. All of my gigs have been cancelled, but I still have a job hosting a radio show, so I consider myself lucky.

“I feel for my fellow musicians and I know a lot of people are really struggling right now. That’s why every bit of energy I have is going into being useful—into lifting people up.

“I believe that the last real magic in the world is music and love. You can’t explain why you fall in love with a song. It just is. And that’s what I’m trying to do on my show now—spread that magic. Remind people that we are here, holding hands, in it together. Remind people of the beautiful things in the world. Remind people that this too shall pass.”

Watch Julie’s balcony sunset song here.

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