EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of Saturday Profiles of area residents and their stories. To suggest a profile, contact Feature Editor Burton Cole at [email protected] or Metro Editor Marly Reichert at [email protected]
A little encouragement was all it took to put Howland High School graduate Sierra McCorvey on her trip of a lifetime.
From a member of a high school band, she became one of the best local lyrical artists.
McCorvey graduated from Howland in 2009. She remembers her high school music teachers helping her begin her musical journey.
“My music teachers were Anjanette DePoy, Nancy Moore, Craig Raymaley and Greg Rezabek,” McCorvey said. “It was their teamwork that allowed me to enter music school with a scholarship.”
The family is packed with musicians – her father and grandmother graduated from Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music, and her aunt was an assistant vocal teacher at Dana in the 1990s.
“My house, growing up, has always been filled with such a wide variety of music. I went to my grandmother’s piano recitals and opera rehearsals with my aunt when I was young, and “Sesame Street” had great opera divas who made opera so accessible and accessible. to young minds, ”McCorvey said. “I always tried to emulate Denyce Graves as she sang a very ‘kid-friendly’ Habanera to Elmo.”
McCorvey said she was a nerd to the band early in her life, playing the flute in the Warren Junior Military Band.
“I sang and imitated an opera voice with the other kids in my flute section,” she says. “My flute teacher said, ‘hey, you have a really good voice’ by the way and I clung to that. With the help and guidance of a community of great music teachers, I no longer had to “imitate”. ”
McCorvey then attended Dana School, where she completed her Masters in Vocal Performance. She will be graduating this fall and plans to begin her doctorate in musical arts in vocal performance with a specialty in vocal pedagogy.
“I’m still waiting for financial aid and a scholarship to decide which school to attend,” she said.
At Dana’s house, she got her first lead role as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte at YSU.
“Cosi fan tutte is quite a feat for an undergraduate program, but we had great directors, teachers and coaches who helped the entire cast through what has been such a monumental experience in our young careers,” McCorvey said. “All of my cast mates are doing such great things now. I fell in love with acting and beautiful music at the time. I felt like “opera” was something I could do at the time. The Dana School of Music offers a wonderful opera program with teachers who guide students through how to study a role.
Her passion for music also kept her busy outside of the classroom. While attending school, she found time to get involved with the Opera Western Reserve as a young artist. She applied in 2013 and did not show up. She did not give up and re-applied the following year and was accepted.
“Opera Western Reserve will sometimes allow its young artists to take on roles in their professional productions with more experienced artists,” she said. “At OWR, I was offered contracts to sing roles in ‘Porgy and Bess’,’ Macbeth ‘and’ A Taste of La Traviata (the 2020 production of COVID-19). I have also sung in a few OWR cabaret productions. All the opportunities at OWR have led to other professional roles and gigs. ”
Along with a comprehensive music-centric program, McCorvey finds time to “pass it on” to young people, both in music and in important life lessons.
“I love to teach,” said McCorvey. “Not just music, but ‘how to have a better life in general’ – a phoenix-like program rising from the ashes. My jobs outside of music consisted of working with downtown students; frame them in life and education. I have worked with nonprofit programs such as Heartreach Neighborhood Ministries; Mind, body and soul; and up. I am currently a graduate assistant for a college / business preparation program called Academic Achievers. I have also been teaching music in the area for about 10 years now.
Her ability to teach and coach played a role when she was placed on the board of directors of Opera Western Reserve (OWR). She works closely with Carol Baird, Robert Pierce and Lynn Ohle to make opera accessible, fun and accessible to the youngest.
She said OWR has come a long way and weathered the pandemic last year. She said this year would be great.
“We have a great season stemming from this pandemic – be careful,” she said.
She said that opera was meant to be a career and that she spent too much money on her education to consider anything other than opera.
McCorvey has a few hobbies, such as taking pictures and painting. She spends a lot of time in museums trying to understand the current and historical culture for the shows she participates in. She also continues to lend her voice to her choir at Holy Family Parish in Poland.
McCorvey lives on the north side of Youngstown in the house that matches his life. The house is historic in nature and was the home of great musicians and historians Wally and Marcellene Hawk Mayhall. She said it was in a music community with a neighbor leading one of the best bands in town, one is a trumpet teacher and another is a voice teacher and accompanist.
“I know I want to get involved in the art form in some way,” she said. “The preservation of art is in its ‘sharing’ – and it doesn’t have to be at the Metropolitan Opera. It’s happening right here in Youngstown. We bring great music and great stories to our own communities and create our own stories. Mozart and Puccini are not the only great opera composers. The beautiful voices of opera are still very much alive. There are so many other great stories and great voices that need to be heard. ”
As for McCorvey’s story, she said: “I am only at the very beginning of a lifelong journey to learn how to become an expert in singing. Under the mentorship of OWR and my trusted 12 year teacher Dr Misook Yun, I am constantly on the lookout for learning opportunities to push me to the next level of my potential – you have to be relentless in the process, because there are always setbacks. , but you have to keep pushing and learning. By no means am I “arrived” yet, but I believe in seizing the right opportunities that lead to better opportunities. It will bring me closer to my potential. “
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