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(Updated 9:30 a.m., Apr. 26)
Local performers
shine at Kiwanis Music Festival

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Twelve-year-old Rebecca Kalinger sings Your Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile from the musical 'Annie' during the Kiwanis Music Festival on Monday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


For the past two weeks, Ottawa’s finest young musicians and vocalists have been testing their skills in church halls across the National Capital Region as part of the Kiwanis Music Festival.

On Monday, 12-year-old Rebecca Kalinger from Beacon Hill overcame a throat infection to finish second in the vocal musical theatre solo class for competitors 12 and under.

She was one of three east end youngsters in the competition along with Kathleen Robertson from Orléans and Julia Lemieux from Sarsfield, both of whom were taking part in the music festival for the first time.

The vocal musical theatre classes were held in the rather spartan City View Church Hall off Merivale Road. Because there were 24 singers registered in the 12 and under division of the vocal music theatre solo category, they were divided up into four classes with eight participants in each class.

Each participant had to sing two songs in front of an adjudicator who critiqued their performances at the end of the class.

Of the three east end participants, Lemieux was the first to take the stage. The bubbly 11-year-old performed Beauty and the Beast from the movie of the same name and The Bear Necessities from “The Jungle Book”.

Sitting in the audience soaking it all in was her father, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP Pierre Lemieux.

“No, I wasn’t really nervous. I was just excited for her,” said Lemieux.

Julia has been singing “pretty well forever”. Both her sisters, Elizabeth, 17, and Danielle, 10, will also be performing in the festival later this week.

At the other end of the spectrum, 11-year-old Kathleen Robertson only started taking voice lessons last September.

Although she’s been on stage numerous times before as a member of the MacCulloch Dancers and as an aspiring violinist, Monday’s vocal musical theatre competition was the first time she ever sang in front of an audience that didn’t consist entirely of her friends and family.

Her anxiety level was evident during her opening number Where is Love from the musical “Oliver”, but after a quick
costume change she delivered an inspiring rendition of Just You Wait from “My Fair Lady”.

Compared to Lemieux and Robertson, Rebecca Kalinger is a Kiwanis Music Festival veteran.

The 12-year-old singer and pianist has a wall full of Music Festival certificates and last year she was awarded the Stars of Tomorrow Trophy

Prior to her performance on Monday, she had already received four first place certificates – three for Grade 7 piano and one for speech arts monolgue – and three second place certificates.

Despite the fact that she was still recovering from a throat infection, she sang You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile from “Annie” with great gusto followed by A Change In Me from “Beauty and the Beast”.

Adjudicator June Crowley was impressed by Kalinger’s performance.

“You had wonderful projection and a great natural stage presence. You looked as if you were at home up there,” said Crowley before handing out the certificates.

The Kiwanis Music Festival wraps up on Friday after which the organizers will take three weeks to sort out the dozens of scholarships and prizes that will be awarded during the Festival Highlight Concert on May 19.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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