We Want Answers: Bobby Hill

The boy soprano from Andorra may be one of the most sensible 15-year-olds you’ll ever meet.

Photography by Claudia Gavin

Photography by Claudia Gavin

I detect a slightly deeper voice than when you sang for Pope Francis last year. Are you still a soprano? I am. I can still hit a high C. When my voice does change, I’ll sing through it, and hopefully I’ll have a nice tenor voice on the other side.

Aside from your overnight celebrity, what has been the biggest change since we spoke with you last year?
I left Central and am now doing school through Philadelphia Virtual Academy, which is run by the school district. It’s about five and a half hours a day, and I still meet up with my friends after school and on weekends. I don’t see a downside. It allows me to travel and perform.

Where have your travels taken you? I did Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 at a classical festival in California. It’s really complicated — 10 minutes long and in German. And I recorded my new Christmas album in Prague with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

A little “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer?” It’s a mixture of secular and religious music. There’s “Ave Maria” and “Silent Night” but also songs like “My Favorite Things,” just because I like them. It was really fun to record with a live orchestra. We finished it in about seven days.

Has Lady Gaga called you for one of her duets? Well, not yet. I’d really like to sing with Andrea Bocelli and Céline Dion.

Bigger thrill: Pope or DNC? Hmm. Probably the Pope, because that was a last-minute thing. For the DNC, I did the National Anthem on the first day. Hillary Clinton later told me I did a good job. She seemed like a nice person. People like to say that she’s mean, but I didn’t see that at all. I also made my debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was very exciting.

College is coming up. Any chance you’ll stick around and go to Curtis? I’ve been looking at some of the conservatories like Curtis and Juilliard, but at some of the academic schools, too. I’m not sure which way I want to go. When I met Audra McDonald, the Broadway singer, she told me to save music for graduate school, so I may want to study political science or sociology and do music later. I need a good fallback plan if singing doesn’t work out.

Does all of your gig money go to a college fund? Some goes to an account for expenses, some to a college fund, and then I’m allowed to spend the rest.

What does a 15-year-old buy with all that cash? I bought a $400 pair of wireless headphones, $300 sunglasses, and a custom suit for $900. I wore that at the DNC.

And I understand you’re also working with a charity. Yes, it’s called EndArts-lessness, and we’re trying to get arts classes into schools that don’t have them.

As my late father would always ask a kid your age, how is your love life? [laughs] It’s fine. I don’t have a girlfriend, and I don’t think I would have time for one.

Smart kid. So what do you have time for, outside of school and music? I’m an avid golfer. For an 18-hole course, I shoot in the low 80s. In the winter, we still go to the driving ranges, but I also love to ice-skate. And one other hobby is that I like to get on my father’s nerves.

I have no idea how old you have to be to drive in Pennsylvania, but something tells me you’re getting close. I’ll get my permit when I turn 16 in April. My dad says he’s not going to let me drive. But I know better.

Published as “We Want Answers” in the December 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.