Young performers busy this summer
It’s been a busy summer for a couple of young local performers, and both are representations of how much talent continues to be nurtured here in all types of mediums.
It didn’t take a genius to realize upon meeting Thomas West that he was a special kid with a bright future, and six years later, he is just that. When we first met, he was a McCallie School junior who was studying voice, in particular opera. We met because he had conceived of a nonprofit called Let Beauty Awaken after visiting a local public school and being somewhat shocked and dismayed that students there did not have access to musical instruments.
The program was renamed ReGenerate a year later, and it continues its mission of arts advocacy and fundraising for arts in high schools.
Since our meeting, West, a baritone, has graduated from the Juilliard School in New York and is currently studying at Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. The TMC is the world-renowned summer music academy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It chooses more than 100 students from across the country to participate in a rigorous schedule of performances and master classes.
West performed at Tanglewood on July 2, singing Bach’s Cantata No. 159 “Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem,” and Cantata No. 109 “Ich glaube, lieber Herr.” He closed out July by performing in a TMC vocal concert that showcased French art song.
He sang the role of Bill in Leonard Bernstein’s opera, “A Quiet Place,” on Aug. 9. The TMC staged the opera as part of its summer-long celebration of the centennial of Bernstein’s birth. West closed his Tanglewood season with a performance of Harbison’s “Flashes and Illuminations (1, 2, 3)” on Aug. 14.
Gracie Gilbert, daughter of Cindy Sexton and Gil Gil- bert, has also been busy this summer.
She has been performing in a musical six days a week at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania since May. She is a student in the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State and hopes to make her career in musical theater.
Hersheypark is a Dollywood-type entertainment venue with rides and theater shows. Gilbert is part of the seven-member cast of “The Good Time.” The show is a country music-themed revue and the crew does four shows a day. The show is cast out of New York and draws young performers from all over the country.