April 18, 2017

The singing scholar

Scholarship inspires a student’s performance

Sullie Ojala-Helmbolt, ’17, joined a choir in the third grade and has been singing ever since. “One of my high school choir teachers inspired me to the point where music was the only thing that could fulfill me,” he says.

That led to voice lessons and getting into the University of Minnesota School of Music, where he’s earning a degree in vocal performance. “Freshman and sophomore years were filled with classes in diction and opera workshops, which is how I got into the opera program,” says Ojala-Helmbolt, a baritone. He’s been involved in a University Opera Theatre performance every semester since then. After graduation, he plans to find work singing, then pursue graduate studies in music.

A scholarship established by beloved Twin Cities singer and announcer Arnold Walker in memory of his wife, actress and soprano soloist Helen Rice Walker, helped make Ojala-Helmbolt’s studies possible. When Arnold Walker died in 2016, the family asked Ojala-Helmbolt, the first recipient of the Helen Rice and Arnold Walker Scholarship, to sing at his memorial service. “It was a real honor,” he says. “Arnold and Helen were musical luminaries, including being founding members of the Minnesota Opera. I will always be grateful for their support.”

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