Dare to Diva

Applying to college is enough to stress any senior out: What is your GPA? How much community service have you done? What are your test scores? Not to mention those daunting application essays.

Now imagine topping this all of with a live performance. No edits, no second chances, just you.

This is what select seniors from the performing arts department have been doing, attempting to gain admission into music programs at their respective schools.

“On one hand, I know that the chances of making it in the real world are slim,” senior Taylor Greyard said. “But at the end of the day, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least give a future in the business a shot.”

For these seniors who have become known for their performances, the decision to audition for programs such as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the FSU College of Music, the Eastman Conservatory School and others is based on their passions. At universities such as FSU students are in the music programs and receiving an AA degree. Conservatories on the other hand, are schools dedicated to the performing arts where students study strictly music. The typical size is 300-400 students and these schools are also above or equivalent to private colleges in price, with the average tuition ranging from $50,000 to $80,000.

Greyard who is hoping to attend NYU, auditioned for two schools, FSU and NYU.

Unlike Greyard, senior Leslie Gallahger felt so comfortable after passing her first round of auditions at FSU that she withdrew all other applications and committed to their college of music.

Senior Annalycia Franklin and senior Claire Tendl both applied to conservatories, in the hopes of pursuing Opera.

“I’m an ambitious person and I like a challenge,” Tendl said. “I know I have the foundation to be good at this and I want to continue learning about it.”

Tendl, who has auditioned at the Eastman and Overland Conservatory, knows that the audition process varies depending on school, but can range from a single recording to an entire day of tryouts filled with tests, interviews and live auditions.

At Overland, Tendl was required to take a music theory test, sight see, sing on soul search, and audition in front of the entire voice faculty. For Gallagher and Greyard, after sending in applications to FSU, students picked their audition date and were required to sing four classical pieces in front of two judges with an accompanying piano player.

“[These schools] are really are looking for dancer-singer-actors above all else. They want to see how you move and they want you to have a competitive edge,” Greyard said.

For Tendl, breaking barriers has become the norm. She is interested in opera, a craft and style of music that is typically restricted to individuals with more mature voices.

“It’s very strict. Young people don’t really perform in opera,” Tendl said. “It’s a very intense performance that takes experienced singers.”

Franklin, who is also looking to pursue a career in opera, has dedicated herself to it since eighth grade and credits Tendl for encouraging her to continue in college.

“They are very selective, so you are solely working on music,” Tendl said. “That’s the degree you’re getting and you don’t do basic classes.”

To prepare, both girls have hired music coaches whom they meet with at least once a week on top of being involved in school chorus. Franklin’s voice coach has advised her to do whatever it takes to be successful.

“She always says, ‘Don’t be afraid to be a diva’,” Franklin said. “A lot of people want you to hold back, but being a diva is the best thing that you can do.”

Senior Antonio Esposito, who auditioned at FSU and Rollins, has faced his own challenges. With such a small and talented cast, Esposito was given the role of the antagonist in the production of Fantasticks through the theater department and found it to be difficult from a vocal standpoint.

Esposito loves this type of challenge, which he felt helped him “hone his craft” even further and hopes that it will continue be his main focus as he transitions into the university of his choice.

“I believe that the ‘typical’ college experience is honestly up to the individual,” Esposito said. “My ‘typical’ college experience will be taking classes designed to hone my craft and put out excellent performances.”

Gallagher, however, wanted to find a college that would give her both this and the popular college activities. Her decision to attend FSU was partially based on the fact that she wanted to be able to attend football games and participate in the school marching band.

Gallagher has found a way to combine her passion for education and music by pursuing a major in Choral Music Education and eventually conducting for a college.

“I will probably start out by teaching, similar to what Mrs. Rathbun does at Hagerty, which is a fantastic job to have,” Gallagher said. “She has inspired me to go after all of my musical dreams.”

Like Gallagher, these opportunities, challenges and passions mean more than just the next four years of their life.

“Singing and acting are what I live and breathe,” Esposito said. “I’m going to be in it for the long haul.”