Here are some of The Bolshoi Music Studio’s exceptional students…
Carleigh Ross is currently a student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in their 4-year Opera Program. Carleigh had planned on studying music education with a minor in voice, but when she went to her audition she was encouraged by the judging panel to switch her major to vocal performance, so she did. This year Carleigh was one of the first sophomores ever to be chosen to sing with the prestigious Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She sang selections from Hansel & Gretel, Christmas carols and the mezzo solo from Handel’s Messiah.
At only 11 years old, K-Lynn Jackman is a supremely talented young lady. After working with me and learning a healthier way to belt, K-Lynn went on to secure the starring female role, Nala, in The Lion King, on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre. K-Lynn completed her two-year contract this past September and is now preparing for the National Tour! To balance all the belting she does and keep a high forward placement, K-Lynn works on operatic repertoire in her lessons, most recently from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, as well as standard Italian art songs. Her Italian is absolutely beautiful and her diction is flawless. When she grows up, she feels she would like to be an opera singer, and if she decides to go this way, I believe we are looking at the next Leontyne Price. K-Lynn’s charismatic acting ability is only equaled by her facility at going from a chesty belt to head voice, and back again.
Maya Watters has a lovely, clear-as-a-bell soprano tone, and recently began working on belting as well. She communicates exceptionally well with her audiences and has wonderful stage presence. All Maya’s teachers report on what a joy it is to work with her. She began dance lessons when she was 3, focusing on ballet and tap. Her performances include Baby Take a Bow, Broadway Baby, and Shuffle off to Buffalo. Maya began acting lessons in 2014 at the Action Theater Conservatory in Clifton and is currently in her third session working on Monologues. Maya began work at our studio in 2014. She is rocketing ahead with technique and loves singing. She has sung in every talent show at the Dogwood Hill Elementary School since first grade leaving no dry eye in the house when she sang “Over the Rainbow” a capella. In 2014, she sang a solo in the school production of “Grease is the Word,” and was Sally in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown in 2016. Maya has begun going on professional auditions and had a Broadway producer’s attention for a few weeks this year.
Sara Lake has a simply fabulous, world class voice and presence. Her charisma is unparalleled and her talent is enormous. She has a seamless ability to go between belting and a legitimate operatic tone, and in any genre her musical intuition and innate musicianship skills guide her to emit simply exquisite tones filled with emotion. A mezzo soprano, she has been a performer since the age of 5 when she started dancing with the New Jersey School of Ballet. After 15 years of ballet and jazz training, she decided to take a different route and try musical theater. She started her vocal training with Alison in 2003, and participated in a number of musicals at Glen Ridge High School and Passaic Valley High School Summer Theater Program. She has portrayed the roles of Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls and Florence Vassey in Chess, among others. Sara became a second grade teacher and left performing after college, returning to it and The Bolshoi Music Studio in 2015. She is just beginning to re-enter the audition circuit!
Erin Pach is a Renaissance-singer, meaning that she fits into several categories; Musical Theatre, Cabaret, and Operetta. Sexy and a natural comedienne, she has a wonderful ability to cross from a full belt into head voice and back again with no break; a perfect column, up and down. Her connection to the text displays an exquisitely fragile vulnerability at times, while at others her ability to allow her emotions to dictate where a piece can travel is uniquely powerful. Erin is building up a large repertoire of songs to begin work as a Cabaret singer. In regional companies over the last three years, Erin has played the Leading Player and Roller Rita in The Musical of Musicals: The Musical with Nutley Little Theater, and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Lieutenant Genevieve Marshall and Glory Baker in South Pacific, and Rifka in Fiddler On The Roof with Theatre League of Clifton.
Nicole Berezny is a beautiful lyric soprano with a lush, golden tone. Nicole initially went to university to study music, but discovered a love of Psychology that was stronger at the time. A few years post graduation, she now returns to opera and we are thrilled to have her. This is a voice that the world needs to hear. Nicole works on both opera and pop music.
Regina Reilly is a dramatic soprano with a full, round sound that fills the hall with warmth and color. Her dedication to feeling the text produces an emotional line to her phrasing that is uniquely beautiful. When we first began working together, Gina struggled with finding consistency in her sound, which came from a misunderstanding about support that many singers have. Though we have not worked together long, her voice has become even and is starting to match her emotional line much more closely. I applaud her bravery in the commitment she makes every day to connect her emotions to her body. Gina is drawn to musical theater ballads, though we hear a legitimate dramatic soprano voice for the opera stage. As she continues to build strength, we will introduce more operatic pieces and we are excited to see what happens!
Yulia Geniush is a ravishingly beautiful woman with a full lyric mezzo voice to match it. When Yulia sings she goes tounimaginably beautiful places and takes the audience with her. A native Russian speaker, Yulia is working on bringing her depthof feeling to other languages, especially English. There is a ring on this voice to which she is just starting to connect, and whichproduces a sound so thrilling you must hear her to believe it. Coming from an esteemed musical family, Yulia is talented in several different genres of music, and it’s difficult to say she belongs to any one of them exclusively. Her singing of Gershwin’s The Man I Love was sultry and evoked a smoky NY nightclub in the ‘40s, but her Tchaikovsky in our last concert was as legitimate as any professional opera singer would hope to produce. This singer bears watching!
Nadya Geniush is a perfect Mimi in La Boheme. Her lyric-spinto soprano voice shimmers with colors and her understanding of characterization is splendid. She is so beautiful that when she’s singing you cannot take your eyes off her. Nadya came to the studio as a choral singer from the well known Celebration Singers in Cranford, NJ, with hopes of becoming good enough to get more solo work within her choir. She had a vibrato that was sped up so much it was impossible to hear, but after working on it diligently it is now audible and even. She has progressed so far and so fast that she is now looking to begin singing operatic roles in regional companies in the tri-State area. A native Russian speaker, she also works on the roles of Tatiana from Eugene Onegin, as well as Tosca.
Nicole Pepe has a rich, chocolatey mezzo-soprano voice and has been exploring its boundaries for the past four semesters. When Nicole first began work she had no discernible vibrato and a limited range, but now has a clear and even vibrato, and belts up to a B! A full time music teacher in the NJ school system and also a Celebration Choir soloist, Nicole has wonderful musicianship skills. But it is the classical work which has grown Nicole’s range, namely the “Habanera” from Carmen, and the “Che faro senza Euridice” from Orfeo ed Euridice; though you wouldn’t know it from the powerful ballads she sings like “No Good Deed” from the Broadway show Wicked. Nicole is a singer who continues to show audiences more of her inner depths in every performance.
Bingham Prestridge simply has a gorgeous lyric tenor voice, one of the most beautiful you’ll hear anywhere. At first, Bing brought in only liturgical music, for which he has a real affinity. As a soloist in his church choir, he has become accustomed to moving people with both the beauty of his voice as well as his emotional commitment to the text. Over time we convinced him to try some rock-opera style pieces, like Les Miserables, because he has the perfect tenor voice for such roles, and his ability to go into falsetto and back is magical. It’s been very exciting to hear him as Jean Valjean as he works to increase his range. Bing will shortly be looking for regional work, as singing in church is not going to be enough for him!
Barbara Prestridge has a golden mezzo voice that has deep, velvety overtones. Like her husband Bingham, Barbara is a church choir soloist, and at first brought in mostly liturgical music. However, the voice was made for more classical pieces. Most recently, Barbara sang “Voi che sapete,” Cherubino’s aria from Le Nozze di Figaro, and it was lusciously warm and rich. The foray into classical pieces will make Barbara’s facility with other genres much easier. Barbara has a great ability to take in information quickly and process it directly into her singing. A tall, beautiful woman, she is perfectly suited for operatic “pants” roles. We look forward to hearing her Octavian from Der Rosenkavalier.
Jennifer Jenkins is an outstanding musician in her own right. A full time music teacher, conductor and director of a well known NJ children’s chorus, her innate musicianship skills are on par with the very best. Watching her conduct is a performance not to be missed. Her spinto-coloratura voice is exceptional, clear as a bell, and dead on pitch. She has been taking time off to be with her newborn son and has just returned to vocal work, to find a richer tone and more ease of line; something that comes naturally to young mothers. A taskmaster, Jennifer is someone who works-the-work like no other student, and she rocketed ahead with technique so quickly that she was soon ready to be out auditioning for solo contracts. I see her as being most successful as a concert soloist in classical repertoire, though we will see where the voice goes!
Conrad Erdt is our current class pianist and we have been working together about five years. Recently Conrad expressed a desire to learn how to sing, and we discovered that in addition to being an excellent pianist (who can play anything excellently and with panache!) he also has a terrific voice. Born to two German parents, Conrad has a true affinity for the German language, which when sung pulls the vowels forward and helps with placement. Though Conrad chose a bluesy song for his debut at our last concert, he worked as much on a German lieder as he did on the song he performed. Pianists are so fascinating, because of their ability to coordinate so many things at once, and Conrad is no exception to this. While playing for himself he has been able to make finite adjustments to his vocal technique and has improved quickly and dramatically. He just opened a new door to his own performing, since being a “piano man” who can sing is something sought after by many establishments. We look forward to where his voice will go.
Steven Kelly is a singer, an instrumentalist who plays multiple instruments, and he owns a recording business in New Jersey: Kelly Percussive Arts. In addition to his musical gifts, Steven is also an outstanding music producer and sound engineer, and he has a keen ear and a taskmaster’s exacting personality — with the skills to match! Steven is a member of a funky blues band for which he has recently been singing lead vocals. Steven didn’t sing before last year, at least, not solo and not as the band’s frontman. He took one semester at the Bolshoi Music Studio and then simply went off and started singing. Would we have liked more time with him to work on technique? Yes. But he was already a working musician, and really just needed a combination of a basic understanding of technique and some confidence building in his abilities, and he was ready to go-go-go. Now he is back, ready to increase his skills.
Lara Schilt is the youngest person in the studio. At 8 years old, she is a true prodigy, with wonderful innate musicianship and rhythm. Lara has been participating in every music performance she can at her school, and asked her mom to please send her for lessons “to sing like a professional.” By 2018, Lara will be ready to start going on professional auditions. Brava!