By Catrina Riker
Even though I have been singing my entire life, meticulously prepared and practiced, I was shocked (in a good way) to be named the winner of Wellspring’s South Shore’s Got Talent (SSGT) competition in June.
When I was only a toddler, I remember watching the Taurino Olympics on television and hearing Andrea Boccelli sing for the first time. It was inspiring, and piqued my interest in classical music and classical artists. I have seen videos of myself as a young child trying to mimic female classical singers such as Sarah Brightman. No wonder I decided to study opera.
My mom has always been very supportive of my classical music education, playing Andrea Boccelli’s music so I could familiarize myself with his songs, and encouraging me to take voice lessons at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), which I’ve been doing for three year, since fifth grade. Up until now I’ve been studying with voice teacher Emily Browder-Melville. In addition to private lessons, I’ve been involved in the Accelerando Program, which gave me the opportunity to play for other students and faculty members, and explore topics such musical interpretation, expressivity, how to manage nerves and body awareness. I’ve also gone to Summer Vocal Institute for the last four years, take piano, and have gone to Piano Camp for two years. All of these experiences were helpful in preparing for competition.
When I was in sixth grade I was at Starbucks, and saw a flyer advertising the talent show, and I thought “here’s my chance,” so I tried out and made it that year, but didn’t win. That didn’t stop me. I came back the next year to give it another shot, and ended up winning. To me it was a huge surprise, there were so many talented individuals already comfortable with the show environment!
For South Shore’s Got Talent, I sang Nella Fantasia, by Ennio Morricone. It is Italian and means “In my Fantasy.” I’ve listened to that beautiful calming song for years, and never considered singing it until this year, when I thought, “People will actually really appreciate this.” So I sang it, and hoped the lyrics, which are full of hope, would touch the amphitheater audience and the judges. Emily helped me prepare. She made sure I was comfortable performing with a mic, as opera singers tend not to use mics. This contest required it.
Pianist Brandon Santini accompanied me. I was comfortable choosing him as an accompanist, as I had sung with Brandon multiple times in my Accelerando classes. In fact, I plan to continue singing with him for other performances in the years to come.
Preparation was nerve-wracking but it was all worth it in conclusion. I was very nervous; gazelles were leaping in my stomach but as soon as I opened my mouth to sing, I felt my nerves dissipate as I stepped into my element, and everything fell neatly into place!
Presented by Wellspring Multi-Service Center in Hull, South Shore’s Got Talent is a fundraising event that helps spread the good word of Wellspring’s impact on improving the lives of our neighbors in need in 19 South Shore towns. The winner receives a substantial cash award, a head shot session, a hair/make-up session, and a live interview on HCAM.
To learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s private lesson program and other class offerings, visit sscmusic.org.
SSC voice student Catrina Riker is 13 years old and attends Hingham Middle School. She is very excited to continue her opera studies with SSC’s Beth MacLeod Largent this fall.