The Power of Musical Connection & Innovation in Opera with Mila Henry

Want to listen to their full conversation?Click here!

Learn more about how Elena Armijo can support you in seeing and using the power that resides within you:

It’s easy to be afraid of change. We want to stay where we are comfortable and where things are predictable and safe. However, that fear could be keeping you from the life of your dreams. Alternatively, it may be a signal that you’re not ready for what is on the other side of that fear. You’ll never know what it’s telling you until you examine it. So, what is the fear of change keeping you from?

OnIn a Manner of Speaking, Elena Armijo chats with the incomparable Mila Henry. She is a music director, a pianist, a conductor, the artistic director of the American Opera Project, and a fabulous trailblazer. Through her artistic endeavors, she has been able to combine her love for music with her passion for innovation to maximize others’ impact and create a new future for opera. In this conversation, she and Elena discuss her musical journey and how music can be used to expose people to new ideas and experiences.

Making Music That Matters: Mila Henry’s Story

Mila’s musical journey began at the age of five when her parents signed her up for piano lessons. Due to her incredible musical talent, she played for choirs in the sixth grade, and in high school, she played in shows, musicals, choral groups, the jazz band, and marching band. She went on to attend grad school at the Manhattan School of Music where she entered the field of collaborative piano. This opened a variety of opportunities for her. Not only was she able to play piano during lessons and classes, she was also able to work at the Manhattan School of Music and Barnard College, as well as projects throughout the city.

This position allowed Mila to engage in opera, as well as her first love: musical theater. Now, she works as a musical director, pianist, and conductor. She is also the artistic director at the American Opera Project, which exists to develop and present innovative stories through lyric theater.

“All opera is theater, all musicals are theater, and it comes down to that fundamental storytelling,” Mila explains. Certainly, her love for new things in the realm of music fuels her as she organizes projects that blur musical boundaries and create incredible experiences for the artist and the audience.

Not only does she have a career that allows her to create unique connections and uplift others through music, she also is a part of the Opera Cowgirls, a group that combines Grand Opera with the Grand Ole Opry. This all-female group is comprised of gifted musical professionals and they tour across the country! 

The Disruption:Anyone who has met Mila knows the vibrant joy she exudes. As an artist and a director, her desire is to also bring joy to audiences and craft unforgettable musical experiences. “[At the American Opera Project], we really want to break boundaries. We want to connect audiences and I think we want to disrupt tradition,” she says.

Mila’s goal is to expose audiences to experiences that are different from their own, so that everyone can support and understand one another better: “We can all learn from each other and we can all stand by our own beliefs, but it's important that we work together.”

Certainly, this sense of collaboration is vital for musicians who are trying to establish themselves. “I always said ‘yes’ to a lot of opportunities. I was always really open to whatever it was… being thrown my way. And I think that definitely helps to just to figure out what you really enjoy doing and also to connect you to new artists and individuals who can help you get there,” Mila advises. “Even in this, you know, virtual reality, it's the same idea of trying to connect with others, ‘cause we all just want to have that interaction.”

Without a doubt, it is her openness to differences, willingness to adapt, tenacious spirit, humble heart, and joyful outlook that make Mila such a powerful woman!

Weekly Coaching Tip

What is the fear of change keeping you from? It’s easy to be afraid of change. After all, staying in a familiar environment provides us with a sense of comfort and safety. Change means letting those things go.

Sometimes, you can have a clearer perspective when you consider what it’s costing you to stay in the realm of safety.

Is fear keeping you from the life of your dreams? That big promotion? A move to Europe?

Your fear might be holding you back from something better, or it might be a warning that you’re not ready for that change.

So, in order to understand what that fear is trying to tell you, you need to think about what you’re losing or missing out on by staying safe. What you may be missing due to fear is the very thing that calls you out of your comfort zone. However, if safety is more important than that dream, that career move, or that opportunity, it means you’re not ready to take that step—yet. And that’s okay.

Just remember to check in every day to see if you’re ready to seize whatever fear is keeping you from. When your dream speaks more loudly than your fear, that’s what causes you to move out of your comfort zone.

So, take a look. Where are you on that scale? Are you ready?

Let’s Get Social!

Want to hear more from Elena? 

Learn more about the American Opera Project:

Check out the Opera Cowgirls:

Connect with Mila Henry on



Take a look at Kristin’s website:

Message her

This podcast was produced by the following amazing team:

John Biethan, President of Imagine Podcasting: 

Sam De Santo, Creative Director: 

Rye Taylor, Podcast Design Strategist & Producer: 

Meg McCarley, Brand Designer & Social Media Manager: 

Raejan Noh, Content Writer: 

Aaron Boykin, Musician & Artist:https://hollatchaboykin.comand get updates about Aaron’s music via Instagram: