A Mosaic of Melodies: Student vocalists put on a pleasant show for family and friends

Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

The Voice Studio of Dr. Camelia Voin hosted a concert Friday night to showcase the talent of UCR students as well as a few special guests. Doors opened around 7 p.m. and let in an audience that consisted mostly of what appeared to be family members and friends of the performers. Fidgety children roamed around while people continued to spill into the performance lab, chatting and trying to find an empty seat in an almost-full venue. Shortly after 8 p.m., the lights dimmed and stragglers settled in as the musicians onstage began to warm up and prepare for a night of classical music.

Opening the show was the UCR Chamber Ensemble, performing a piece called “The Carolers.” The orchestra filled ARTS 166 with the soothing and altogether lovely sound of strings and woodwinds. They were met with thunderous applause from onlookers as they concluded their piece and made way for the following solo vocal performances.

Each participant took to the stage and gave it their all, emitting an admirable amount of energy and even using props to further bring the story of their songs to life. There was no denying that nerves got the best of some of the aspiring singers but even as notes fell flat and voices quivered, the audience remained supportive. Sheyla Jarquin stood out with a beautiful rendition of the popular “Les Miserables” musical number, “On My Own.”

Each accompanied by the immensely talented pianist Emily Chao, one after another Voin’s students sang a variety of music styles, ranging from baroque to musical theatre. Other notable performances during the first half of the show included Karina Rogue, who garnered a few chuckles from the crowd when she continued her song after a long pause and Maira Ramirez, whose fiery red dress complimented her feisty attitude during the song. Marisol Sanchez and Slki Kim sang intricate harmonies with ease during a duet entitled “Sull’aria,” that led the audience into a brief intermission.

The second half of the show got off to a great start. One of the strongest vocalists of the night, Lauren Perry, sang a duet with Rogue before performing a breathtaking solo. As the concert continued, cell phones and cameras emerged to catch the intriguing pieces on video and mothers were seen trying to calm increasingly restless kids who’d obviously had enough of sitting down. The singing continued to get better and better, with memorable performances by Victoria Weis, Vevina-Anne Swanson and Alexander Jackson.

The last solo performance of the night came from Yasmeen Saberi who chose to sing the powerhouse ballad “I Have Nothing.” As the music began, you could almost feel the nervousness in the crowd. Did she really decide to take on an incredibly difficult piece sang by the legendary Whitney Houston? Yes, she did. And to my and the audience’s delight she did the tune justice, easing in and out of high notes comfortably and generating an ecstatic response from the audience.

The concert concluded with a song called “Chorus of Wedding Guests,” which brought out all of the previous performers to participate in a grand finale backed up by the orchestra. The students took their bows as Voin thanked everyone for attending and supporting the performers. However, before everyone could hop out of their seats, awards were given out to the Tzu Chi Youth Orchestra, who played along with the UCR Chamber Ensemble as well as a few, select members of the Lyric Symphony Orchestra.

There was an incredible amount of energy brought to the stage that can only be the product of hard work and dedication. The orchestra did an excellent job of supporting the soloists and it was apparent that every last one of the students was passionate about their craft. This fact can only make way for improvement and I for one am excited to witness it in the future.

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