With a nomination from her Homer High School choir director, but still needing some financial support, singer Cassandra “Cassie” Burkhardt, 18, of Ninilchik, has been given an opportunity in New York in February. Through a nomination and selection process, Burkhardt has been chosen for the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, Feb. 6-10.
“Cassie Burkhardt is a dedicated musician and a promising young artist,” said HHS choir director Kyle Schneider, of his former student. Schneider nominated Burkhardt for the Carnegie Hall opportunity. “She works diligently in pursuit of her craft while balancing school and home. Her voice is well suited to many different styles of vocal music, and her musical ability is quite advanced for a person of her age and experience.”
Since she was a youngster, music has been part of Burkhardt’s life.
“Mom used to sing all the time when I was little,” she said of her mother Waynette Coleman’s influence. There were opportunities to join in the singing at the Methodist Church in Ninilchik, as well as perform with her mother.
“I started singing with her a couple of times at the (Ninilchik) fairgrounds when I was little and then just stuck with it,” said Burkhardt, who not only sang, but worked to develop her voice and singing ability. “I kept taking lessons from my mom and then, when I was old enough, at school.”
Burkhardt “worked tirelessly in concert and swing choirs during her tenure at Homer High to hone her skills as a musician and continues to do so today,” said Schneider, adding that Burkhardt was never one who allowed “life’s twists and turns to derail her drive to be amongst the best in her craft.”
In 2011, Burkhardt was selected for the “Sound of America,” a music program designed to enrich aspiring musicians through international performance and education. The concert band and chorus, with musicians from across the United States, spent 13 days traveling and performing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France. Being accepted for that experience meant submitting a recommendation and an audition recording.
Similarly, for the Carnegie Hall opportunity Burkhardt, now a Connections student, submitted a recording of herself singing “Into the Night.” The piece was written by American singer, pianist and composer Clara Edwards.
“It had to be about two minutes long and couldn’t be any longer,” said Burkhardt. “You could send more than one piece, as long as it wasn’t more than two minutes, but I just did that one.”
Her audition included a piano accompaniment, but a glitch in uploading the recording and a push to meet the application deadline resulted in Burkhardt singing a cappella. While a solo is not her favorite way to perform, it worked.
“I prefer more voices just because I like the powerful sound of it,” she said.
Her flexibility is an example of Burkhardt’s ability to overcome unexpected twists and turns.
“I thought I wasn’t going to get in at first, but I actually made it,” she said.
Then there was finding she not only made deadline, but also had been accepted.
“They sent an email saying, ‘Congratulations. You’ve been accepted.’ I was like, ‘What?’ I was definitely surprised,” said Burkhardt.
Being accepted in the New York City event is no small thing, according to Schneider.
“It is quite the honor,” he said, adding, “(Burkhardt) serves as an example for many within our community of how perseverance can pay off, and her diligence will suit her in whatever life brings to pass.”
The Honors Performance Series includes ninth through 12th-grade students from the United States and Canada. Some costs are covered for finalists — including rehearsals, equipment, sheet music, activity fees, ground transportation and lodging — but not all. Each participant is responsible for such items as transportation and meals. Burkhardt has been making payments, but still is in need of about $1,500. She can be reached at 907-953-2202.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall
New York City, N.Y.
Feb. 6-10, with Honors Performance at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 9
What: An individual nomination and selection process brings together “some of the most talented student performers in high school today.”
Jeffrey Grogan, honors orchestra
Craig Kirchhoff, honors band
Dr. Lynne Gackle, honors choir.
• Being heard by collegiate music programs invited to the performance;
• Rehearsing and interacting with other accomplished finalists from the United States, Canada and selected international schools;
• Experiencing New York.
For more information:
Selected from the Kenai Peninsula:
Cassandra “Cassie” Burkhardt of Ninilchik
To hear Burkhardt:
To support Burkhardt: