Early next week, the Summit Choral Society will present its two free spring concerts, featuring John Rutter’s “Requiem” and Eric Whiteacre’s “The Seal Lullaby,” among others.
The choir, directed by Jill Schroeder-Dorn, will be accompanied by Caroline Hesford on piano, Janet Harriman on harp, Freddy Powell on cello and Shane Werts on oboe for the Monday, April 7, concert, and by Summit High School student Alex Mason on oboe for the Tuesday, April 8, concert. Tuesday will also feature the vocal talents of Summit High School students and Summit Choral Society scholarship applicants Taylor Bohlender and Danny Daigle, each performing a solo accompanied by high school choral director Jeff Dixon.
Dreams of the opera
Though Summit High School senior Taylor Bohlender has only been performing opera for a few years, she’s always been a singer.
“Honestly, I can’t even remember the first time I started to sing, because I’ve been doing it forever,” the 18-year-old said.
She does remember how she discovered her passion for opera. A visit by opera singer Keith Miller advertised the Opera Young Artist program at the Crested Butte Music Festival. Captivated by the idea (and with a little push from a friend), Bohlender signed up for the summer camp and as a result discovered a passion for the genre.
“I was an OK singer before I went there and when I left I just felt so much better about my abilities to be able to sing and what I could do with my voice,” she said.
In addition to talent, Bohlender has developed a deep appreciation for opera and an ambition to perform challenging roles.
“I love opera because of how it’s just so beautiful,” she said. “There are really no words that I can describe. … It’s some of the most beautiful singing in the world and you get to perform amazing roles that not many people can do, because it takes a particular voice to be able to sing those notes.”
There is one role in particular that she’s set her sights on – the Queen of the Night aria in “The Magic Flute,” by Mozart, which she first saw performed live at the Crested Butte summer program.
“I was standing backstage when I heard one of the sopranos sing that song and I fell in love with it because I had never really realized what it was before,” she said. “Then when I heard her sing it was like, I will be able to do that one day. It’s so amazing.”
Bohlender’s experiences at the music camp also confirmed her desire to make music a part of her professional life and future. She plans to attend Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., to study vocal performance and music education. She hopes to travel and perform in Europe and one day possibly make it to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
“For her age she has a very advanced voice,” said Summit High School choral director Jeff Dixon. “It’s not often that you hear 18-year-olds with the weight and voice of a young opera singer — and they usually come after two or three years of undergraduate study — but she’s very passionate and she works really hard and she’s worked really hard to get to where she is. She has a great work ethic.”
Tuesday will be the first time Bohlender has performed with the Summit Choral Society, and she’s excited about the opportunity. She will be performing the aria “O mio babbino caro,” from the Italian opera “Gianni Schicchi,” by Giacomo Puccini.
No matter what she’s singing, Bohlender is happiest when making music.
“Music is one of the things that I can connect to on a really personal level,” she said. “It’s helped me through a lot and singing opera, some of the arias that I’ve sung and hopefully will be singing, are very personal and I can connect to them. Music is my life, basically. I know it’s cheesy, but it is.”
Show tunes and beyond
Ever since he played the role of Mowgli in the third-grade production of “The Jungle Book,” Danny Daigle knew that theater was what he wanted to do. Since then he’s performed onstage in a variety of capacities, including the Summit High School play and musical series.
“I would definitely consider myself an actor who sings, as opposed to a singer who acts, but in college what I want to do is focus largely on singing, because I’m not as confident in it as my acting,” he said. The high school senior will be attending the University of Wyoming next year to earn a major in musical theater.
Daigle sees singing for the Summit Choral Society as an opportunity for improvement and as a testament to his recent hard work.
“It’s incredible, because I know for me, when it comes to singing, acting and dancing, I felt singing was my weakest point, and to go and audition for (the choral society) and have them ask me to solo, it’s really good to know that I’m better than sometimes I give myself credit for, and knowing that I do have the ability to go on and perform solo and have the possibility to achieve a good enough singing capacity to possible be on Broadway.”
Dixon has also noticed the results of Daigle’s recent hard work.
“He’s come a long way in this past couple months even,” he said. “He was so into theater … but the acting and the drama and the stagecraft came first, so he’s really used that to kind of push his musical abilities even further. He’s really great with character development and the character voice, and he’s my leader in my bass section. I don’t know what they would do without Danny as their leader.”
Daigle, who is a baritone, will be performing the song “Someone to Fall Back On,” by Jason Robert Brown. Although Brown wrote the music for a handful of musicals, this particular song isn’t attached to any play, but Daigle felt it would best show off his voice.
Show tunes are definitely Daigle’s favorite music genre, but he likes all types of music, from the alternative bands that share space on his iPod to the Beatles and Beach Boys songs his family used to listen to on road trips.
“I really have a wide palate for music,” he said. “Between my family and the school, I’ve definitely been exposed to a lot of music.”
While his dream role would be to perform in the musical “Into the Woods,” and he’s planning to eventually try his luck in New York City, the real reward is to be involved in the art form.
“My goal is to be on Broadway, but really, if I’m just performing in little theaters in New York or around the country, I don’t care, as long as I’m performing,” he said.