By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Thirteen-year-old Keira Tiongson Biala sang her way to the auspicious Stern Stadium of the Carnegie Hall all the way from her west coast home in Milpitas, California. She is part of the prestigious 14-member St. Cecilia’s Children’s Choir in the city of Sta. Clara who performed during the Durufle Requiem Masterwork Festival Chorus produced by the Manhattan Concert Productions on June 19, 2017.
Eleven of the 14 members of St. Cecilia’s Children’s Choir are Filipinos trained under the baton of director Noel Fisico. They auditioned for the Carnegie event and made it to the rather competitive feat. Although it was not Keira’s first international gig, she was absolutely thrilled to sing in the halls of Carnegie for the National Children’s Festival Chorus. It was participated by nine ensembles from the US, Greece, and Hungary with conductor Emily Ellsworth, a renowned leader in youth choirs, and pianist Andria Fennig.
Conductor Ellsworth orchestrated 241 young singers to be their best on that rainy Monday night in the Big Apple. Their sweet voices rendered Stephen Paulus’ Day Break from The Earth Sings, Amazing Grace, Stars Tonight, W.A. Mozart’s Papageno-Papagena from the The Magic Flute, and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In a short acknowledgment speech, Ellsworth said that the singing of the children was a great way to call for world peace.
Visiting the bustling Big Apple was also a wonderful Spring vacation of Keira, which she shared with her mom, Dr. Fe Tiongson Biala, a dentist, and father Charito. The big fan of Golden State Warriors was accorded an artist’s treat by her parents as they watched on marathon Broadway greats Dear Evan Hansen, Miss Saigon, and School of Rock.
Excerpts of our interview:
- How did you feel coming and performing in Carnegie?
It was such a big honor. I never thought I would be given this opportunity. Not that many people get to perform at Carnegie. It is crazy to think that I performed there.
- Is this your first international gig as a choral singer?
No. I did ACDA where you get to audition for an honor choir and I also participated I the Golden State Trophy in Monterey.
- Do you plan to be an international singer on your own someday?
I am planning to become a Broadway performer and probably moving to NYC. I enjoy participating in school plays at my local theater. I also enjoy watching Broadway musicals. I really love Hamilton which I saw in San Francisco! (Photos by Dr. Fe Tiongson Biala)