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Singer coming home to Morgan Co. for concert at church

May 18, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va.- Do we have a future international opera star among us? Area music lovers will get the chance to hear for themselves when Morgan Harmison performs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.

An Evening of Song, which features a vocal recital of arias, art songs and musical theatre compositions, will be presented by Harmison, who has just completed her sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She will be assisted by pianist Patricia Springer.

Harmison, 20, a graduate of Berkeley Springs High School, is a voice major and was accepted for advanced training this summer at Salzburg, Austria, and Lucca, Italy.

Harmison chose the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, and the five-week festival is an advanced accredited program of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and co-organized with Centro Koine, the distinguished language institute of Lucca, she said.

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Selected artists train and perform in Lucca under the guidance of an international faculty of professional artists, Harmison said.

"It's wonderful to know that I have the support of this community, and I believe I can further my career by attending the program in Lucca," Harmison said in a telephone interview this week.

She said her studies at Lucca will include learning Italian and working with top vocalists in master classes.

"We will perform two cabarets based on Fellini films and opera scenes. We also will audition to perform in the opera, 'The Marriage of Figaro,' and sing in the chorus," Harmison said.

She will begin her junior year at Carnegie Mellon in the fall.

The May 20 recital is sponsored by the Morgan County Forum for Arts, Sciences and Technologies Inc. (FAST), a nonprofit organization. The recital is the first in a series of benefits to support advanced training in arts, sciences and technologies for talented residents in Morgan County, said FAST board member Larry Springer.

"It is extremely difficult to accomplish the goal of being a world-class concert artist," she said. Harmison said she has received in the past and is still receiving excellent community support. Now with FAST helping financially to support talented Morgan County residents, she is the 2006 recipient of the FAST Advanced Training Fund which will support a portion of her travel expenses to Lucca, Springer said.

The fund will support this and future grants in the arts, sciences and technologies. Donations may be made to FAST, P.O. Box 674, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411, he said.

Harmison has been the winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) vocal competition in the classical and musical theatre categories for the past five years. This season she won first place at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., where she competed with college singers from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Last October in Pittsburgh, she was the featured soloist singing four German lieder with Andrea Springer in a program of the violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms.

In February, she performed with the Pittsburgh Pops under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch in "A Tribute to Cole Porter," and she has been invited to sing in an all-Gershwin program in the 2006-07 Pops season. She recently sang in Carnegie Mellon's production of "The Last Voice Major Standing," which was written, directed and performed by the students.

Harmison said she is looking forward to Saturday's recital, which is free. The Presbyterian Church is at 206 S. Mercer St. in Berkeley Springs.

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