Ten students from Bend's Musical Impressions Studio will find themselves onstage this summer at New York's Carnegie Hall, the Royal Festival Hall in London or Australia's Sydney Opera House this summer, after being selected by video audition to participate in the annual Honors Performance Series.
- Angelina Anello-Dennee
- Participants in the Honors Performance Series, from left: Emma Toney, Gracie Conant, Mckinley Lawson, Miya Corpstein, Luke Wulf, Alex Dennis, Emmy Beal, Samantha Maragas and Sierra Pierce.
HPS is a program of WorldStrides, Inc., which offers international educational opportunities to select elementary through post-graduate students in performing arts, among other fields. The Bend students will learn and perform under the direction of professional instructors, while also enjoying opportunities to network with their international peers and visit educational sites at their respective host cities.
Musical Impressions Director Angelina Anello-Dennee says she first had a student participate in the program nine years ago. "I applied to chaperone," she says, "because I wanted to make sure the program was legitimate. I was so impressed by the high level of musicianship and the conductors, I kept applying to go back." Anello-Dennee is also the production coordinator for BEAT Children's Theatre in Bend. She believes the chaperoning experience has allowed her to better prepare students for the competitive auditions. "Now I know what they're looking for, and I can train them up to have great auditions," she says. "They have to prepare classical pieces, and the requirement is usually something in a foreign language."
Anello-Dennee has seen many benefits to the students from their participation in the program. "It gives them a passion and a drive," she says. "Sometimes you can get a kind of 'big fish in a little pond' mentality. A lot of these kids who are competing are at the top of their schools. It's good for them to step out and see all the talented people out there." She also sees it contributing to the students' overall personal growth.
"Sometimes as parents we want to hand-hold our kids through things. This is an opportunity where they have to do all of these steps on their own. They get a little ownership of who they are, and their talent, outside of their music teacher or their parents."
One Bend middle schooler will travel to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall and three will head to the Royal Festival Hall in London. Four high schoolers and two college students will attend the program at Australia's Sydney Opera House.