Young per­form­ers busy this sum­mer

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - VOICES - Barry Courter Con­tact Barry Courter at bcourter@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6354.

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.

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