Cheshire High School senior wins classical singing competition

Cheshire High School senior wins classical singing competition


CHESHIRE — A Cheshire High School senior won a people’s choice vote in a classical singing competition this week, adding to her growing list of achievements.

Alea Vernon, 17, has sung in several internationally renowned theaters, including Carnegie Hall, Paul Hall, Seiji Ozawa Hall, the Shanghai Theatre and the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford. She’s also performed locally at Lights of Hope and the CHS production of “Mary Poppins.”

Vernon recently participated in an online competition sponsored by “Classical Singer” magazine and won the high school division.

For the competition, Vernon sang “Villanelle” by classical singer and composer Eva Dell’Acqua in a video recorded in June during a performance at the Casentino Voice Festival in Popi, Italy.

To audition for the magazine’s competition, she submitted a video of herself singing “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln,” a Mozart aria from “The Abduction of Seraglio.”

The judges chose between five and 10 finalists by age group to move on to the audience choice competition, Vernon said. A month after her initial submission, she was named a finalist and received feedback from a judge.

“I got a very high score, which was nice,” Vernon said.

She had two days to upload her song selection for the finals of the audience choice. A week of voting and link sharing later, she was named the winner. She received a cash prize and a gift certificate from Barenreiter Music for sheet music.

“Classical Singer” hosts an annual convention and competition that Vernon participated in last year, earning a spot as a finalist.

“As a junior in high school, that was very good,” she said.

The convention also offers master classes and lessons. “I was very fortunate to work with a lot of professors I’m looking at studying with in my undergrad,” she said.

Vernon adds her most recent win to a long line of credits. She was the first place winner of the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, the second place winner of the Rondo Vanguard Competition and a George London Scholarship Recipient.

She attends the Juilliard School Pre-college as a vocal performance major, and is an Ensign-Darling Fellow at the Bushnell. She previously attended the Manhattan School of Music Pre-college.

Her friends and teachers at school have been supportive, she said.

“A lot of (my friends) don’t know a lot about opera or classical music,” she said, adding that she was surprised when someone played her audition video in class. “I’m lucky to have such open-minded friends.” she said.

She said she sent link to a few of her teachers, who forwarded it to the entire faculty.

“I’m lucky to be in a school where the teachers care about what the students do outside school,” she said.

Her parents also have been encouraging.

“I have quite the amazing set of parents,” Vernon said. “They let go of the reins and let me accomplish some great things, and fail as well, but they’re always there.”

Landa Mauriello-Vernon, said her daughter found her passion for classical singing after playing the violin, which she started at age 5.

She discovered singing in middle school at New York Summer Music Festival, a 2-week music education camp at SUNY Oneonta that ran until 2015, where she took a voice lesson.

The summer before eighth grade, she auditioned and got into the camp’s voice groups.

Her mother told her, “have fun and see what you want to do,” she said.

Mauriello-Vernon said the camp’s director urged her to find voice lessons for her daughter, “with the right person, who would take care of her voice,” she said.

“She just fell in love with opera and classical music,” she said.

Vernon is currently performing in the chorus of the Salt Marsh Opera in Stonington. She performed with the group on the New Haven Green during a night of Italian opera, after winning a competition for one high school singer to sing with them.

“She’s pretty independent when it comes to her music,” Mauriello-Vernon said, “and we’ve allowed that.”

Vernon plans to graduate early from CHS in January, and plans to pursue internships in New York City and audition for colleges.
Twitter: @LCTakores


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