Atlanta Opera Chorus Master Walter Huff coaches participants in this year's High School Opera Institute. Pictured are Kylie Humber, a junior at Heritage High School (front row, third from left), and Julianna Lassiter, a 2013 graduate of Eastside High School (front row, second from right). Photo Courtesy of Jeff Roffman for The Atlanta Opera
ATLANTA -- Two area students will finish up months of musical studies this weekend.
Kylie Humber, a junior at Heritage High School, and Julianna Lassiter, a 2013 graduate of Eastside High School, have participated in an eight-month program through the Atlanta Opera, called the High School Opera Institute. This year, 15 students from across the state were selected to participate in the program; it is open to high school students in 10th through 12th grades.
The students auditioned in early September, and since being accepted, they have attended coaching sessions and workshops at least monthly and more frequently over the past couple of months. Students have explored topics like preparing and auditioning for a role, selecting a music school and vocal technique.
They work both one-on-one and in groups with coaches: HSOI music director and Atlanta Opera Chorus Master Walter Huff, Beverly Blouin and Dr. Stephanie Adrian.
"It has made me realize that singing opera is what I want to do," said Lassiter, who will attend Temple University in Philadelphia beginning in the fall to study vocal performance on a full academic scholarship. "It's really where my voice feels best."
Lassiter, who has been involved with the Arts Association in Newton County, has performed in musical theater since she was 10 years old. Eventually, she wants to sing and manage herself as a career.
"I love the drama (of opera)," she said. "The music is so dramatic and it works with stories."
Humber also has been involved with musical theater and then was classically trained. She, too, said the program has showed her that she would like to pursue music professionally, hopefully after attending Julliard in New York upon graduation next year.
"It's so much harder to sing classically than to perform musical theater," she said.
Humber added that she has realized that being a great singer in Conyers is different than being in a group such as the opera program, where everyone is a great singer.
"It really opens your eyes," she said, adding that she's now working harder on her music than ever before.
They also said they liked working with fellow students during the program.
Students also attended a vocal health seminar presented by the Emory Voice Center this year.
Their program will wrap up with their only public performance, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at Morningside Presbyterian Church, located at 1411 North Morningside Drive NE in Atlanta. Students will perform pieces from Mozart, Bizet, Menotti, Handel and Donizetti.
"We are so proud of the hard work that all of the students have put into this," said Emmalee Hackshaw, director of Community Engagement at The Atlanta Opera.