On February 2rd, Carnegie Hall rang with the voice of one of Santa Fe Christian’s very own, Alesia Willis (‘20). She, along with 180 other students nominated and selected worldwide, came together under the guidance of renowned conductors to perform in the High School Honors Performance Series.

From the time she was six years old, singing in the car with her family on the way to grandmother’s, singing had become a passion in her life. “I can always pour my heart into [it]” she shares. Now a senior at SFC, she brings her resonant alto voice into chamber chorale and musical theater.

At first, the High School Performance Series posed impossible. The series only accepted the best applicants of thousands from around the world. Students would train for a weekend under renowned conductors, and finish the weekend giving a performance in Carnegie Hall. The series was competitive and the application process rigorous. Moreover, Alesia had received disappointing results from a different audition that had left her wondering: “I thought to myself, maybe I don’t sing as well as I thought.”

It was only after Alesia discovered that SFC choir director Vlad Bgatov nominated her without her knowledge, that she even began to consider applying. Soon after, she decided to write the application, record her audition song and then, she waited.

On October 23rd an email appeared in her inbox. Too scared to read it all, she caught a glimpse of one reassuring word: congratulations. She couldn’t believe it–she had been accepted! Her conductor would be Dr. Jeffery Redding, the 2019 Grammy recipient for music education. Out of everything Alesia experienced that incredible weekend at the High School Honors Performance Series, this man would leave the greatest impression.

“Sing to inspire, not to impress.” These powerful words by Dr. Jeffery Redding echoed in the hearts and minds of these high school singers through the eight hours of rehearsal, four days in a row. The work was intense, focused on technique and polishing minor details, but his words carried them through. He would remind the choir, “I am not pushing you like this to be mean, but because I know you can exceed my expectations.” Through the hard work, the choir clicked, and by performance, they melded together in beautiful unity.

As they stepped into Carnegie Hall, the fullness of the experience and all the emotions with it came over Alesia. Cherishing every moment, she sang holding her new perspective closely. She sang to serve the listeners, to bring them peace, and to leave an impact through her love of music– not to impress, but to inspire.