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Monday, October 29, 2018

Fort Thomas Resident Sings with World-Renowned Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden

It’s not everyday that you hear about someone in your community rubbing elbows with a celebrity. The opportunity alone may sound like dreamy music to some people’s ears but for Fort Thomas resident Kaitlin (Stephens) Guenther, it is a reality. This Friday, she will be singing with world-renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli at US Bank Arena.

Here’s a quick Q & A with Kaitlin as she describes what led to this amazing opportunity.

FTM: What led to this opportunity?

Kaitlin: So, in order to be considered for the Bocelli choir, you had to first audition for the May Festival Chorus.  The audition process consisted of singing two classical pieces, one in English and one in a foreign language.  You also had to sight-read a piece of music.

At the first May Festival Chorus rehearsal, we were told that Bocelli's "people" wanted a small choir, not the entire May Fest Chorus, and that if you were interested in singing in that choir, you needed to notify the director.  He then told us that if a large amount of people showed interest, that he would select who would sing in the small choir.

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I first learned that Mr. Bocelli was coming to Cincinnati while watching a special on WCET.  During one of the breaks, it was mentioned the Bocelli would be accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and members of the May Festival Chorus.

I looked at my husband and said, "I have to find a way to be a part of that!"  That's when I began researching about the audition process for the May Festival Chorus. Participating with the May Festival Chorus is the first time I've worked with a professional group of musician in years. I was a single mom for six years and there just wasn't time to commit several hours a week to rehearsal and several days to performances. Thankfully, with the support of my husband and daughter, we've been able to make things "work" so that I can be a part of this prestigious group!

My daughter, a third grader at Johnson, is participating in the school choir, which rehearses the same day as May Fest Chorus, and she loves that we have choir on the same day!

FTM: How long have you been singing?  

Kaitlin: I've been singing since middle school, was very active in my high school chorus and Musical Theater programs (Campbell County), and went on to study Music Education at Xavier University, with double focuses in piano and vocal performance. I taught music in public schools for three years.

FTM: What were you most looking forward to working with him? 

Kaitlin: We (had) limited time/interaction with Mr. Bocelli but what I (was) most looking forward to (was) working with a world-class musician.

He is truly phenomenal and has such a special gift. Being that close to someone who has such a profound talent and not just listening to a recording or watching a performance on TV (was) an absolute once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I'm also honored that he chose Cincinnati and the talented musicians in the area to accompany him. I think it speaks to the history of excellent musical ensembles in the city.

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