The most common reaction when Olivia Brewer started following in her brother’s footsteps and singing The Star Spangled Banner at local community events was “Wow!” So when many people heard that Olivia made her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York recently as great an accomplishment as it was for a high school freshman, it wasn’t surprising to anyone who had been moved when hearing her sing. Brewer was the only freshman among 242 other high school students selected from around the world to perform at the 2016 High School Honor Performance Series. 18,000 some students were nominated internationally for the choir according to Olivia’s mother Kelli, “Renee C. Henderson was responsible for nominating Olivia to the series, because Olivia was only 14 when she was nominated in 8th grade. Renee may officially be retired, but she is still supporting our kids and their musical talent and has attended all of Olivia’s performances. There is a good reason they named the KCHS auditorium after her. Her dedication is amazing,” she said.
“I had to try out by recording an Italian piece from memory, then when I was accepted they sent me eight pieces that we had to memorize before we ever got to New York,” explained Olivia. Some of those challenging pieces included “Dwijavanthi,” an Indian raga arranged by Ethan Sperry, “Alleluia” by Jake Runestad, “La Luna,” by Randall Stroope and “I can feel the spirit,” written by her conductor at Carnegie Hall, Jeffery L. Ames. Olivia says it was her brother who inspired her to start singing and that it pleased her to have made it to Carnegie Hall before he did, “Preparing was a lot of hard work, but when I was there on stage at Carnegie Hall I just started crying, but I was so inspired I wanted to make every note perfect. We rehearsed nine hours a day for three days before the concert, but I saved my voice for the performance,” she said.
Brewer has studied locally with voice teacher Audra Faris, “She has trained me all through this process and helped me with all my memorization because I can’t read music and also Mrs. Bird was my middle school teacher and without them I wouldn’t have made the cut,” she said. Olivia says even with a Carnegie Hall performance to her resume she isn’t planning to pursue singing as a career, “I enjoy music it gives me happiness and I’ll probably continue to study music and perhaps get a college scholarship, but I don’t want to do it as a career for the rest of my life, I want to be a veterinarian.” Brewer has now been accepted to the ACDA All NW Honor Choir and will be performing in Seattle on March 6th where she will perform pieces such as “Minoi, Minoi,” a Samoan folksong by Christopher Marshall and “Kwela Kwela,” a traditional Sotho & Zulu song. She is also preparing for the Alaska State Solo and Ensemble Competition. She also says she is working on an entry for the Caring for the Kenai environmental awareness competition and is active in sports and other school activities in addition to her music.