La Monte student not afraid to be heard
Sydney Guthrie has a voice and she isn’t afraid to have it heard.
Sydney is a 17-year-old who will be a senior at La Monte High School when classes resume in August. She played the tenor sax in the school band and takes private lessons in flute and piano.
“I love to play my flute,” she said. “It is a way to express myself and show people my heart.”
Although Sydney is talented with musical instruments, her instrument of choice is her voice. During her school years, Sydney has tried basketball, softball, volleyball and cheerleading but her heart just wasn’t in it.
“I don’t play sports. I’m not an athlete,” Sydney said. “I struggled with where I fit in until I found singing.”
In May, Sydney was one of five youths selected from 300 applicants to perform at the Grand Finale Celebration at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Conference, which was held at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway in New York City. She chose to sing “Think of Me” from the “Phantom of the Opera.”
“It was a rush,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous because I was thinking this is what I want.”
Sydney’s singing career began when she auditioned for the elementary show choir. She sang “Happy Birthday” and was chosen for the group. She went on to sing in a teacher’s wedding when she was only a fifth-grader.
Although Sydney saw success at a young age, she said she swore off singing or performing in public after she was turned down for roles in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Annie.”
“I told my mother I was never trying out again,” she said. “I was disappointed.”
But, Sydney soon changed her tune after taking vocal lessons from Gwen Kappelman, who she credits for her confidence and performing ability. Sydney also gives credit to her family for driving her to practice and attending her numerous plays and performances.
“They really support me in what I do,” she said.
Sydney spends approximately 15 hours a week honin
g her musical skills. And even when she isn’t at a lesson, she is singing.
“I sing in the car,” she said, “and I sing answers to people who ask me questions at school.”
She said she loves to perform show tunes and musical theater but there is nothing better than singing “a heart-wrenching” aria.
“You just bawl because you’ve poured your heart into it,” she said.
While Sydney is involved with her school choir and sings often at local churches, she said her favorite experience has been with the American Choral Directors Association. Sydney has been chosen to sing with the select group for the last four years and last year she was one of 80 girls, chosen from thousands, who performed in Denver.
Sydney said she auditions each October and is notified in November. The music is mailed to the chosen singers in January.
“You have to learn the music on your own,” she said. In March, the group travels to the conference, practices together for one week, and then performs six or seven songs before the members of the association.
“I have met the most amazing and influential people,” Sydney said. “I had the opportunity to work with Russia’s number one clinician.”
Sydney said working with the elite directors and singers has helped her grow.
“It has helped me become secure in myself,” she said.
The experience also has helped her make friends from all over the world.
“I have friends from New Hampshire to Japan,” she said.
Sydney is currently student-directing for “Willy Wonka Junior,” which will be presented at the Liberty Center. She said directing has given her the opportunity to see the other side of a stage production.
After graduation, Sydney hopes to attend Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., to double major in vocal performance and music education.
“I want to act on a stage,” she said. “If my life pans out exactly like I want, I will graduate high school and college and then perform.”
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