Sophomore Flavia Valente finds a lot of joy in music and wants to share that with others by singing.
When this member of The Bishop’s Singers began formal vocal training six years ago, she learned some classical pieces, but in the last two years has really focused on classical music. That renewed focus and thorough preparation earned her a second-place finish in the 2020 Howard Swan Vocal Competition, and a $200.00 cash prize.
According to Dr. Christine Micu, Bishop’s performing arts department chair, the annual event “takes place in two parts. For the first part, singers sign up to audition at one of five different high schools around southern California. From those five local competitions, 15 to 20 finalists are chosen in each division to participate in a final concert day. Adjudicators select the winners from the finalists on the day of the concert.” Due to the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert went from a live event to the finalists submitting videos of their final performances.
For her performance, Flavia sang “Les Berceaux” by Gabriel Faure. She chose it “because it's a beautiful piece of music written toward the end of French romanticism. I also loved the lyrics, which parallel the swaying ships in the harbor with rocking cradles in women's hands. The music swells as the men, due to their curiosity of other lands, leave the women and the cradles behind, possibly never to return. I liked that it was melodramatic, a different language, and a challenge to sing.”
Having worked on the piece since the fall, Flavia and her mother Lisa, who is also Flavia’s accompanist, made the trip to Burbank for the February audition. Flavia shares, “At the audition they give contestants a 10-minute session with the judge to work on the song and then give points for each person.” By the end of the audition, she had earned her spot as a finalist in the classical music high school division. The other divisions in the vocal solo competition are musical theater high school, and junior high school, all genres.
Flavia says she’s inspired to sing “because I want to express the music, the poetry, and the story as best I can. I like trying on different experiences, taking on people's narratives, and doing my best to tell their stories while also shaping my own.”
This was her second time participating in the competition; her voice teacher encouraged her to audition last year. “I enjoyed the process and the exposure and wanted to do it this year as well,” Flavia says. At that preliminary round, “one of the judges told me to attempt a more difficult song if I came back next year and that motivated me to accept a larger challenge this year.”