Student sings at Carnegie Hall

Working through the Italian piece “Se Florindo è Fedele” junior Kyla Grau solfeges through her music with the help of her voice teacher, Sarah Van Waardhuizen. A recording of her singing this song along with the song “A Change in Me” from “Beauty and the Beast” was sent as an audition for singing in the Honors Performance series at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In October, Grau got the news that she would be singing in the choir and going to New York. This year was Grau’s second year singing in the choir, auditioning for the first time in ninth grade after getting a letter asking for her to audition.

To help raise money for the trip, Grau held a concert at her church.

“I had $700 left to pay,” Grau said. “At the concert I sang 10 pieces including one of my audition pieces and other songs I had sung before.”

Grau left for New York on February 7.

“The first day I got there we all just hung out with each other,” Grau said.

Friday through Saturday was filled with rehearsal for three hours in the morning with a break in between for lunch. After lunch they had another three hour rehearsal. Along with practicing, Grau and the rest of her group were able to tour around New York. Grau visited Rockefeller Plaza, Time Square as well as Ground Zero. There was also time to just walk around New York and shop.

Feb. 10 the choir performed six pieces at Carnegie Hall.

“It was amazing, I loved it so much,” Grau said. “You can’t get that same kind of sound at school.”

Grau’s favorite piece that they performed was a Gustav Gurschner piece titled “Gurschner!”

“All the songs we sung were really awesome but ‘Gurschner!’ was really fun to sing,” Grau said.

Grau is now in the process of auditioning for an arts high school for her senior year. The school, Interlochen, is located in Michigan, so if Grau is accepted she will be staying in dorms with around 300 other students from all over the world.

Interlochen is a high school that focuses on the arts of all kinds, not just singing. There are students studying for things such as film making, creative writing as well as dancing and playing musical instruments.

“Interlochen has a long standing tradition of excellent music education,” Van Waardhuizen said. “The program gives many students the opportunity to refine their own skill, which is wonderful.”

This is Grau’s second year auditioning for Interlochen.

“I had the idea last minute last year to audition and I made it in but I didn’t go because we weren’t sure about financial aid.”

During the school day students have a normal eight period schedule starting at around 8:00 a.m. and ending around 4:30 p.m.

Grau would only need to take a History and English class and the other six periods would be related to music with things like private lessons and music theory.

Along with being a high school, Interlochen has summer programs people anywhere from third grade to adults go to. The programs last anywhere from three to six weeks depending on what it is you are there for. Former Johnston student, junior Elaine Tilly, attended a six week vocal opera intensive program last summer.

“I was put in a choir  and worked on that for three hours every day and next I had an opera workshop where we worked on putting together a couple different opera pieces,” Tilly said. “Also I had a music theory class, acting class, Music History and International Phonetic Alphabet which helps us translate any language into those letters and then into English.”

The camp, just like the high school, is very rigorous and strict about certain things.

“It actually started off as a military camp,” Tilly said. “It is still very military like because we have uniforms that we have to wear at all times when we are on the campus.”

Along with a strict dress code the kids have daily chores to do in their dorm rooms.

“We had morning chores and the faculty would come in and do an inspection and give you a grade on how clean your room was.”

Even though the school is tough, Grau is looking forward to going if she gets in.

“I think I’ll really like it,” Grau said. “I loved going to New York and meeting new people.”

In the future, Grau is hoping to pursue a career in music.

“I definitely want to be a music major,” Grau said.

When in New York Grau was able to visit Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes.

“Kyla has a great passion for music. In terms of having a music career, passion is two thirds of it.” Van Waardhuizen said. “She will continue to grow and refine her talent. Working hard and not letting go of your dreams, she will be able to accomplish so much.”


More to Discover