Langley singer Katie Miller performs as Dorabella in UBC’s November 2012 production of Cosi fan tutte, an opera by W A Mozart. Miller will represent B.C. at the Kiwanis National Music Festival in Waterloo this August.

Musical Milestone: Opera singer Katie Miller heading to Kiwanis Festival

Langley opera singer Katie Miller will represent B.C. in Waterloo, Ont. this summer at the Kiwanis Music Festival

As Katie Miller prepares to step onto the national stage — 4,400 km away from Langley — the singer is hoping to carry with her a bit of hometown support.

The 22-year-old UBC opera student will represent British Columbia this August, when the 2013 Kiwanis National Music Festival takes place in Waterloo, Ont.

Following her victories at both the regional and provincial Kiwanis competitions, held in Langley and Chilliwack respectively, Miller — one of five musicians from B.C. who earned a spot in the competition — is looking toward a national title in classical voice.

As a competitor in the classical voice category, Miller will be required to sing three selections — an aria, a song cycle (a series of short songs meant to be sung together) and a sacred work, taking on competitors from coast to coast.

However, before that can happen, she hopes to raise $1,200 — the amount of money she expects she will need to cover her expenses.

Accommodation and meals at the university dorm, where all competitors are required to stay, will cost $400 for the Aug. 6-11 visit.  And Miller expects to spend another $800 on a return flight.

She must also cover the cost of hiring a pianist to accompany her.

Her plan is to approach local businesses looking for sponsorship.

But preparations for this summer’s competition began long before Miller learned she would be performing in Waterloo.

In fact, the singer’s musical journey began before she entered elementary school.

Beginning with piano lessons at age four, she went on to learn the ukulele, eventually earning a spot in the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, where she played and sang for nine years.

She was also a member of the Langley Children’s Chorus for a time.

After graduating from Langley Secondary School in 2008, Miller began studying piano at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus.

But she also took the opportunity to develop her own instrument.

“Because I had sung in choirs, I took a minor in voice studies,” she explained.

By the time Miller had earned her diploma and applied to UBC in 2010, she had to make a choice between the piano keys and her voice.

“I thought about how I would make a living.

“As much as I love piano, I feel more confident singing,” she said.

“I’m still young, so it was not so much business as a personal decision. What am I more inclined to do?

“After one year at UBC I realized I had made a good decision.”

Being part of the opera program has provided the young singer with some wonderful opportunities — including singing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre.

“That was through (UBC opera director) Nancy Hermiston,” said Miller.

Now that Miller has completed her bachelor of music in opera performance, she will begin studying for her master’s — again, at UBC — this September.

Unlike fellow Langley opera singer and UBC alumnus, Rhoslyn Jones, who moved to the U.S., Miller will likely look to Europe once her schooling is complete.

For one thing, she said, there is more opportunity on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Opera and performing arts are more a part of their culture (than in North America),” said Miller.

And the move will allow the singer to develop her foreign language skills.

“I’ve always been interested in languages, and opera and language are linked,” she said, noting the vast majority of operas have been written in German, Italian or French.

“I would like to be able to work in German, French and/or Spanish speaking countries and I have always had a personal fascination with those three languages.

“I believe that the ability to speak multiple languages is a big employment enhancer, for any job, but especially for a career as an international opera singer.”

Anyone who is interested in sponsoring Miller’s trip to the Ontario competition may contact her at 604-533-7798 or by email at katiemiller52@hotmail.com.

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