Talent Show a Feast of Voices
In alphabetical order, click to magnify
Damouras Berenson Fuhrman
The eighth annual Monson Arts Council talent show, Western Mass Performs, was held on Saturday night, March 21, before an enthusiastic crowd. For the first time in three years, the show was held on its scheduled date and time, without interference from the weather.
Though there was a strong contingent of dance performers and a range of other acts, in the eyes and ears of the judges it was clearly the year of the voice. The three cash prizes each went to a vocalist, three very impressive and very different voices, each drawing on its own particular strength.
The first prize of $1000 went to Christina Colon of Wilbraham, a 16 year old who is clearly on the cusp of an exciting professional career. Her rich and powerful voice, coupled with her own piano accompaniment, could have filled the large auditorium without amplification, had she chosen to. She gave a wonderful rendition of "It's a Man's World” by James Brown. Peter Barnett, president of the Monson Arts Council and organizer of the talent show, said, "This is one of those 'I knew her when' moments. Keep your eyes on Christina! She is so impressive that we have asked her NOT to compete next year, but rather toreturn as a guest artist and inspiration.”
Second prize of $500 went to another singer with a voice that was also powerful, but purer and less gritty. Callie Damouras of Belchertown offered up a rendition of "Porgi Amor”, an aria from Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro”, bringing the audience into a very different world. The aria, a combination of beauty and anguish, was sung with a lovely combination of feeling and restraint.
The third prize winner of $250 was Ugochukwa Iyeh, a native of Nigeria currently residing in Springfield whose profession is medicine but whose passion is singing. This passion is very much on his sleeve as he puts his entire heart into his soaring tenor. His rendition of "I have nothing” gave perfect scope to his intense and heartrending style.
In addition to the three cash awards, the judges awarded three honorable mention prizes to some very deserving performers. Ten year old Benjamin Buck of Longmeadow gave the audience an old-fashioned dance hall or Cabaret performance of "Chattanooga Choochoo”, reminiscent of the early 20th century. A second honorable mention went to a dance trio which include another Damouras sister, Abby, who joined McKenzie Berenson and Ashley Fuhrman in a dance based on "My Sister's Keeper”, choreographed by their instructor Mandy Goudreau, also of Belchertown. Lastly, yet another vocalist was recognized, Jasmine Scott of Holyoke, who accompanied herself on the guitar in a rendition of "Who Knew?, was an inspiration for all of us who struggle to get in front of a crowd and put ourselves into the limelight.
Peter Barnett, in his final comments to audience, looked ahead to a future filled with change for the talent show, as it completes its last year at Granite Valley middle school and looks forward to a return to a reopened Memorial Hall.
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