Our Feature Artist


La vie bohème: For the love of Music

Keziah Froese dives deep into her passions with Opera Kelowna’s Summer Intensive Training Program

By Venta Rutkauskas

Keziah Froese

Decisive moments arise like waves from a sea of possibility. Dedication, preparation, and the spark of talent that chooses to alight in just the right way on the given day, all of these can create a moment you’ve been waiting for. For most of her life, seventeen-year-old Keziah Froese has devoted herself to music, playing the piano, singing and even teaching young students her craft.  This past April, she performed at the Cariboo Festival, as she has in previous years, a repertoire of classical and contemporary songs full of beauty, humour and high notes.  As in previous years, adjudicators recommended Keziah for the Provincial competition, noting her skill and ability. This year, however, there was a something special brewing in the mind of guest adjudicator Alexandra Babbel. 

Ms. Babbel is the Artistic Director of Opera Kelowna, the Interior of B.C.’s very own professional performing troupe and educational centre. A soprano with an impressive biography, Ms. Babbel’s dedication to encouraging young artists is clear in the design of Opera Kelowna’s Society mandate. A facet of this mandate is their Young Artists Vocal Education Program. Their Summer Intensive program, held in August this year, brings together high caliber faculty and training schedules that culminate in the company’s performance of Puccini’s La bohème, one of the opera world’s best loved tales about the pursuit of love and beauty.

Alexandra Babbel has taught and performed around the world. She has been instrumental in Opera Kelowna's training programs for young performers. Photo courtesy of her website: http://operakelowna.wixsite.com/alexandra-babbel/bio

Alexandra Babbel has taught and performed around the world. She has been instrumental in Opera Kelowna's training programs for young performers.

Photo courtesy of her website: http://operakelowna.wixsite.com/alexandra-babbel/bio

After witnessing Keziah’s series of vocal performances, Ms. Babbel invited her to join the program despite missing the application deadline. Since that moment, Keziah was determined to make it happen.  “Life is super busy right now, with work, study and travel plans,” she explains. On top of working like crazy to gather resources and raise the funds to seize this unique opportunity, Keziah is reaching out to the community for help. (See more details of Keziah’s crowd-funding page below.)

Throughout the training program, Keziah has the opportunity to glean from some incredible teachers. “I’m most excited to work with so many professionals and learn their tricks in the trade,” she adds. Students work with vocal coaches, acting teachers, learn movement techniques, the training is thorough and in-depth. Summer intensive students also join rehearsals for the main company’s show. In Keziah’s case, her part in La bohème’s chorus is as a sartine, or working girl.  

La bohème is Puccini’s take on the life of several young artists in the Paris of the 1830s. He describes a life of struggle, poverty, and shining moments of love and beauty that make life worth living. Act 2 reveals mirth and revelry at Christmastime, a stage filled with the chorus’ voice and song, a stark contrast to the opera’s quieter moments that explore ill health and lack of resources.

Keziah’s work ethic and training/teaching practice have built up a resilience and drive in this young artist that leaves little doubt she is going to meet her goals. She began playing the piano at the age of five, and for several years, she has been under the tutelage of Angela Sommer (Angelkeys Music Studio) in both piano and voice.  The youngest of her four siblings, Keziah will complete Grade 12 this year, as a home schooled student, and plans to complete Grade 10 piano and Grade 8 vocal exams with Conservatory Canada this coming year. She has 15 piano students of her own, with a waiting list growing, no less.  Currently, she is a nanny, finding new ways to manage her time and energy to raise the funds to pursue her art.

As a performer, Keziah finds inspiration in her family, whose support has been unconditional. Though her parents didn’t pursue music, she and her brothers did, uncovering a family-wide talent. Her passion for dance and movement extends her expressive reach, and allows her to move fully into her body, strengthening and calming her. For vocal, Keziah chooses performance pieces that express deep emotion while having a witty sense of humour, alerting the audience to her own innate hope and playfulness. With Sommer as her vocal-performance coach and guide, Keziah mines the depth of the musical theatre repertoire for challenging and original songs, taking advantage of her range and acting ability. With years of fine-tuning under her belt, Keziah’s brilliance pulls the audience in towards her.

Just as there are moments that make a performer, there are those that can almost break them, too. At just 5 years old, a very fresh Keziah was set to perform at the Cariboo Festival vocal competition with her Aunt Heather as accompanist. Instead, Keziah’s Aunt had to attend to a family emergency, leaving Keziah to perform with a stranger as her accompanist.  From the young performer’s perspective, it didn’t go well.  “Having someone unfamiliar up there with you, as a five year old, it was really scary. And then something went wrong,” she recalls.  Whether the accompanist erred, or nerves took over, Keziah left the stage with little ambition to sing in front of others again, despite winning the day’s award.  Several years later, around age ten, she tried singing again, and began to re-discover a joy in the process.  She hasn’t looked back.

Self-promotion is never terribly easy, even with a noble cause such as attending Opera Kelowna’s intensive. Still, Keziah is putting herself out there, and has recently launched a go.fund.me campaign to fundraise for all the expenses related to travel, accommodation and fees for the her training. This opportunity is Keziah’s ‘seize the day’ moment, a rare opening in the universe of lucky breaks matched with the dedication that has honed her abilities and raw talent.  Please consider supporting this committed young artist’s journey for the love of music, art and all the good things creative community provides.

Visit https://www.gofundme.com/keziahs-trip-to-opera-kelowna to contribute.

For more information about Opera Kelowna and their educational programs, visit http://www.operakelowna.com/.


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