'She Drew You In': Pinecrest Soloist Wins Annual Picquet Festival
For Rebekah Shamberger, performing her first solo opera piece before the Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills doesn’t merit the same bundle of nerves as singing at Carnegie Hall.
But winning first place in the organization’s 31st annual Picquet Music Festival? That feels just as rewarding.
The Pinecrest High School junior took home the top prize Wednesday at National Golf Club for her soprano performance of Douglas Moore’s “Willow Song,” from “The Ballad of Baby Doe.”
The competition featured nine students from three of Moore County’s high schools — Pinecrest, North Moore and Union Pines.
Alto saxophonist Tyler Young, of Union Pines, and bassoonist Alex Wilson, of Pinecrest, received second and third place in the competition.
In addition to her trophy, Shamberger received a $2,000 scholarship from the Kiwanis Club.
Young and Wilson received a $1,500 and $1,000 scholarship for their places, while the six runners-up received $100 scholarships.
Those participants were Seth Brady, Taylor Callicutt, Cynthia Hohman, Hayley Sheffield, Kaitlyn Wagner and Katie Wallace.
Shamberger was excited to hear her name announced at the end of the competition, but many Kiwanis members weren’t surprised.
Several implored her to keep singing as they offered congratulations.
“You came in first on my list,” Bill Smith said, shaking Shamberger’s hand. “That means the judges did it right. I know a good voice when I hear it.”
Shamberger smiled graciously. “Thank you,” she said.
Though she hasn’t chosen a college yet, she hopes to study vocal performance at a school with a strong music program in order to become a world-class opera singer.
Shamberger began singing at 12 as a member of the choir at Church of God and Saints of Christ First Tabernacle Church in Southern Pines.
She discovered her love for opera at the end of her freshman year at Pinecrest.
“I happened to be good at it,” she said. “It just became a passion for me. With other types of music, you have to belt. I don’t like to belt. [Opera] connects with the soul better for me.”
Shamberger took her passion and ran with it. The piece she performed for the Kiwanis Club was also her audition last fall for the American High School Honors Performance Series, which showcases premier choral students from across the country each year.
In February, Shamberger traveled to New York City as one of 250 participants selected to perform in Carnegie Hall under the direction of conductor Jeffery L. Ames.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “Maybe one day I’ll be able to sing on that stage by myself.”
Shamberger’s parents, Vicky and Lawrence, beamed as they watched their daughter accept the award.
Lawrence Shamberger said he has always known his daughter is talented, but he was glad to see her abilities recognized among so many gifted students in this year’s competition.
He added that he and his wife support their daughter’s dream to become a professional opera singer, but he added that no matter what, “I always instruct her to sing to the glory of God.”
Shamberger is the first soprano to win at Picquet since 1996 and the first Pinecrest student to win the competition since 2005.
Last year, Union Pines tuba player Jacob Daniel won the competition.
Paul Gibson, the competition’s committee chairman, said the competition continues to improve each year.
“It becomes a very difficult task to be a judge,” he said. “I congratulate the teachers for training these musicians so well.”
Gibson said the annual festival allows the organization to celebrate its commitment to promoting music in education.
Anita Alpenfels, Moore County Schools’ executive director for human resources and a former high school choral director, echoed Gibson’s sentiments.
“Many of our students in public schools would not otherwise have that opportunity to unlock that talent inside them without music in education,” said Alpenfels, one of the competition’s judges this year.
Other judges included Tim Haley, department chair for the associate in fine arts program at Sandhills Community College, and Valerie Stancik, a local performer and teacher in dance, theater and vocal music.
“What was funny was we all agreed,” she said on the deliberation process. “What differentiated [the winners] was the musicality in their performances. I was just delighted with all of [the contestants].”
Alpenfels said Shamberger stood out because of the beauty of her performance in addition to her mastery of the piece.
“She was able to perform the technical difficulties in her piece, yet she was beautiful,” she said. “She drew you in.”
Alpenfels, who taught previous Picquet winners, can see Shamberger’s star rising.
“She’s so poised and mature,” she said. “I can only imagine where Rebekah will go.”
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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