Soaring to the top (of the scale)

Emma Barishman, Staff Writer

     Becoming an opera singer isn’t something Leigh McGuill ever thought she would be considering as a career. However, when her teacher, Broadway veteran David Gaschen tested her range and discovered how high McGuill could sing, she knew it was what she wanted.

     “I think she has a special gift that not everybody has,” Gaschen said. “She can sing so high and so strong. Most girls can’t do that.”

     Gaschen was surprised at McGuill’s range because she is only 16 years old. Most sopranos don’t settle into their full voice until they are in their early 20s.

     “I’m going to have a couple professionals listen to her to make sure we’re on the right track for her voice,” Gaschen said. “I think she could have a really good career singing opera.  Not only can she sing those crazy high notes, but you can see it in her eyes that she loves it.”

     Since discovering the options available to her, McGuill is considering a major in college which will allow her to pursue an opera career.

     “There’s a professor from Texas Tech coming to listen to me to tell me what my options are,” McGuill said. “We don’t have any definite plans yet but we are looking at various conservatories and colleges.”

     So far McGuill has considered Texas Tech, NYU and Carnegie Mellon because their strong vocal programs will prepare her for a solo career.

     However, when McGuill sings, she does not work only towards her own performance. She is a member of choir as well as the Honors Theatre Productions class. McGuill was recently featured as Annie, or Six, in Chicago: The Musical.

     “It’s fun to sing in a group because you have the feeling of one voice while working together,” McGuill said. “I love hearing the overall outcome of all our hard work as a group at the end of a concert or show.”

     Gaschen said McGuill’s diligence will get her far.

     “It’s a long road because she’s only 16, but she’s got a beautiful voice and she’s a sweet girl,” Gaschen said. “Once she gets her mind on something she’s pretty much got it. She’s an incredibly hard worker.”

     Although McGuill has not always considered a career in opera, she said she has been an avid fan of operatic music.

     “One of my favorite operas is Tosca,” McGuill said. “Some operas can be long and boring, but Tosca kept me enthralled. It was also the first opera my grandmother ever took me to see.”

     McGuill says that her grandmother is her biggest fan and always has been.

     “She is the one who pays for my voice lessons and encouraged me to stay in choir and theatre,” McGuill said. “She has supported and inspired me in everything I do since I was little.”

     However, when she looks for musical inspiration, McGuill returns to opera voices, like Diana Damrau.

     “The strength, power and control in her voice amaze me,” McGuill said. “She can sing my favorite song Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute better than anyone else. One day I hope to be able to sing like she does.”