By Susan Bailey
Special to The Catholic Free Press
Imagine yourself on the stage at the Hanover Theater. Gazing out over the empty seats and focusing on the sparkling chandelier, you begin singing your audition piece, all the while imagining those seats filled with people applauding your beautiful voice.
That dream is to be realized by Emily Suuberg of St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury, the winning vocalist chosen from a group of 41 sopranos from various parishes in the Worcester Diocese. Ms. Suubert will be singing on stage at the Hanover on March 27 with The Priests, the internationally acclaimed trio from Northern Ireland.
The concert is being presented by Francis Carroll, chairman of The Friends of St. John’s Food the Poor Program as a fundraiser for the program.
“I am beyond thrilled to be singing with The Priests!” said Ms. Suuberg. “It’s a bit surreal, actually – they’re international stars and I’m lucky enough to be sharing the stage with them. It’s hard to believe.”
She credits her grandmother with finding out about the audition and encouraging her to try. Ms. Suuberg sang “Saper Vorreste” Verdi Opera for her audition piece.
The Priests, made up of Father Eugene O’Hagan and his brother, Father Martin O’Hagan, and Father David Delargy, have been incorporating local non-professional sopranos into their concerts for the last couple of years, giving the lucky vocalists a chance of a lifetime to display their talent. Ms. Suuberg will be singing “Amazing Grace” with The Priests plus two or three solo pieces.
A member of St. Mary’s nearly all her life Ms. Suuberg sang for the choir and with other young musicians while in high school. She studied privately with Jenn Turner beginning at age 13 and continued with Faith Esham while attending Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.
Ms. Suuberg graduated in May of 2014.
Ms. Suuberg was not the only contestant encouraged by her grandmother to audition; Katie O’Neill from St. Luke the Evangelist in Westboro admitted that her grandmother too told her she “had to do it.” She sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth” for her audition piece.
Cantors and choir members from around the diocese flocked to the Hanover last Sunday for the auditions.
Margaret Abboud from Christ the King Parish in Worcester was there despite the fact she was expecting 40 people at her home later for a Super Bowl party.
“I love the idea of supporting the St. John’s Food for the Poor Program anyway I can,” she said.
Julie BuAbbud from St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Boylston was encouraged by her priest, Father Manuel A. Clavijo, to audition. She sang “Rose of Bethlehem.”
And Katrina McNamara tried out because she hails from the hometown of the O’Hagan brothers. She sang a haunting Irish folk song, “Only Our Rivers Run Free.”
Three distinguished judges were on hand.
Thomas Nerbonne, a music educator for the last 20 years at Wachusett Regional High School has adjudicated vocal soloists, vocal ensembles and choirs in all of the New England states and the Vienna International Music Center in Vienna, Austria. Siobhan Petrella studied vocal performance at Anna Maria College. She is classically trained in opera under Malama Robbins, and a past member of the Salisbury Singers. She taught music in the Worcester Public Schools and in the music magnet program at Burncoat Middle School. Currently she is an assistant principal at Worcester Technical High School.
David MacArthur is the assistant operations manager at The Hanover Theatre. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in entertainment management. An avid music lover he assists in booking events and coordinating production needs that come through the venue.
Singers were accompanied by Kallin Johnson, music director at Notre Dame Academy. Worcester, and board member at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. Melanie Donegan, director of the Actor’s Loft and another Hanover Theatre board member, coordinated the auditions.
– The concert takes place on March 27 at the Hanover Theatre. Tickets range from $25 to $45 and are available online at the website http://www.thehanovertheatre.org/; you can also call the theatre at 877.571.SHOW (7469).