At TYC we know our organization is a success because of our wonderful singers, and we’re proud that our alums go on to become leaders in their communities and successes in a variety of career fields.
This week on the blog, we’re sitting down with mezzo-soprano Laurel Semerdjian, one of our alums who has gone on to a career as a professional singer! Laurel will join our choirs as guest soloist on December 19 at our annual Gift of Song concerts. Get your tickets now!
TYC: How long did you sing in the Tacoma Youth Chorus?
Laurel Semerdjian: I started TYC in the 3rd grade and was in it until I graduated from high school! Mrs. Herrington was my music teacher at Charles Wright and encouraged me to audition. I remember singing for her after school one day and being so incredibly nervous but getting in was one of the best things to happen to me.
TYC: Tell us your favorite TYC memory.
LS: When I was a junior in high school we took the first international trip to Europe. I remember we had a concert in Canterbury Cathedral and we had been told about the amazing acoustics. They told us that after you stopped singing you would hear your sound bouncing back and forth for 9 seconds. We finished Salmo 150 and it was one of those perfect, completely together performances that you remember forever. We cut off the final note and just when we thought it was over we stood there listening to the amazing sound bouncing back and forth and then finally die out and the audience erupted.
TYC: What are some things you learned from singing in TYC?
LS: I learned how to be a musician in TYC. It’s not about just hitting the right notes and rhythms but the collaboration with your fellow singers, conductor, and accompanist. Creating choral music is a team effort. Even in my solo career, I do nothing alone. I rely on my coaches, administrators, directors, and other singers on stage with me to collaborate and create.
TYC: Any tips for young singers interested in pursuing careers in vocal performance?
LS: It’s a tough life but if it is something you really want, DON’T GIVE UP! Like my father always told me (and it is undeniably true) you will get a thousand “no”s for every yes. Continue to hone your craft and audition for everything you can get your hands on. Also, BE NICE TO EVERYONE because you can never go wrong with being nice and it’s a small world.
TYC: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
LS: If it weren’t for TYC I would probably not be singing. Mrs. Herrington helped me to realize that this was how I wanted to spend my life. I wanted to dedicate my life to making people happy and moving people through music.
Click here to hear Laurel and others talk about the TYC experience.
Laurel Semerdjian, alumna of the Tacoma Youth Chorus, is an up and coming mezzo-soprano of Armenian descent. Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Tacoma, WA, she began her journey by making her mark on the west coast. She was most recently hailed as “a dramatic and musical tour de force” (Pittsburgh Tribune) for her portrayal of Asakir in Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song with Pittsburgh Opera. Praised for a voice with “guttural low notes” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) and “appealing weight, intensity and flexibility”, she is quickly making a name for herself across the country.
As a Resident Artist with the Pittsburgh Opera, Ms. Semerdjian has performed the roles of Fenena/Nabucco, Emilia/Otello, Eduige/Rodelinda, Asakir/Sumeida’s Song, and covered Carmen/Carmen. Other roles include, Julia Child/Bon Appétit, Veronica/Dr. Miracle, Gertrude/Roméo et Juliette, Ruth/Pirates of Penzance, Ganymede/My Fair Galatea, 3rd Lady/Die Zauberflöte, Mrs. Herring/Albert Herring, and Rosa Gonzalez/Summer and Smoke. In the Summer of 2015 she performed the role of Cherubino/Le nozze di Figaro with Bellevue City Opera for their inaugural production. In the Winter of 2014, she was an Apprentice Artist with Sarasota Opera, covering the role of Inez/Il trovatore. In Summer 2014 she performed the role of Mercedes/Carmen as a vocal fellow at Marilyn Horne’s Music Academy of the West. From 2012-2013 Ms. Semerdjian was an Emerging Artist with The Dallas Opera, where she reprised Veronica/Dr. Miracle in outreach at schools as well as at the Winspear Opera House with the Dallas Opera Orchestra. She also covered the role of Sonia in The Dallas Opera’s, The Aspern Papers. As a Tacoma Opera Young Artist in 2010, she performed in the Young Artist Showcase and covered the role of Cherubino/Le nozze di Figaro.
Ms. Semerdjian received her Bachelor’s degree in vocal arts with a minor in music industry from the University of Southern California in 2010 and her Master’s degree in the fall of 2013 from the University of North Texas. She will return to Pittsburgh in the Spring to sing the roles of Meg/Little Women, Gertrude Stein/27, and Mother Goose/Rake’s Progress.