When Julia Aubrey was offered the position of director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, she jumped at the offer.
Aubrey is optimistic about her new job and what she can offer the Ole Miss community as director.
“It’s really special,” Aubrey said. “It is something different to do, plus I have performed here, directed here in this space, done musical theater and opera and been a singer on the stage.”
Aubrey has served students in various ways over the years. She is an associate professor of music and teaches voice. Additionally, Aubrey served as director of opera theater and was assistant chair of the Department of Music at the University before becoming Ford Center director.
Working and teaching at Ole Miss has been a rewarding experience for Aubrey. She first arrived in Oxford in 1995 to be the opera director after receiving a master’s degree in vocal performance and theater from the University of Missouri – Columbia.
Having lived in Oxford for the last 25 years, Aubrey now has the roots of the Ole Miss family ingrained in her.
“People talk about the Ole Miss family, and it’s really true here. We have to operate that way,” Aubrey said. “You have to be close to achieve the things we want to achieve.”
Aubrey said since she has worked here, her most memorable performance at Ole Miss was when she directed the opera “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” a new-world premiere written by a former Ole Miss student. The entire cast and crew of the production performed at the European premiere.
“Our (students) got the opportunity to work with professionals on the stage which was an incredible experience,” Aubrey said. “Then of course to take everything over to Europe, which was amazing.”
Aubrey said the opportunity for students to be part of the production would have not been possible without funding from organizations and donors who shared a passion for the arts.
“They wanted to support our students. They wanted to do something extraordinary, and this was an extraordinary opportunity,” Aubrey said. “It was very generous, and it allowed us to go.”
Aubrey said the future development of various projects is driven to encourage University faculty and students to come to the Ford Center and experience what it has to offer. Although she has only been in her new position for a few weeks, she has already begun working on events and productions for this fall.
The Ford Center offers various shows and performances for people to come in and enjoy, making it a cultural space for locals and new audiences who want to experience music, theater and more.
The comedian Lewis Black will perform at the Ford Center in August.
“It’s the first time we have had a comedian of his level,” Aubrey said.
Other future performances include the Russian National Ballet, which will perform “Sleeping Beauty,” and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.
“There is so much potential here — great staff, they make a lot of things happen and they are really good at it so it makes my job easier because they are so good at it,” Aubrey said. “It is very much a team, collaborative effort.
“You have to cooperate in order for something like that to come together. It takes a lot of different people and different ideas, and you finally put it all together and create something that’s unique and something exciting.”