Former Sylacauga resident Lisa Dawson is set to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City March 2.
Dawson is performing with the soprano group “Soprani Compagni” as part of the Distinguished Artists Concert Series. Artists who appear in the series are placed on the Preferred Artist Roster, furthering their résumé and exposure in professional music.
“We are very excited,” Dawson said. “Carnegie Hall is a well-known and respected venue for performance, and there is a certain validation that comes through being associated with it. We are really delighted to have this opportunity.”
“Soprani Compagni” is comprised of Dawson, fellow soprano Tammie Huntington and pianist Phoenix Park-Kim, each of whom are music professors at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind.
The group performs classical pieces written for two high-voice sopranos, a rarity in the music world, Dawson said.
“It seems so obvious that two sopranos would sing together, but there is a stereotype that there is competition between them,” she said. “We don’t feel that way at all. We searched for pieces written for sopranos and uncovered some beautiful music. Even well-established musicians don’t recognize some of the songs we perform, so it’s fun to be able to bring great music to the forefront.”
The group also commissions new works for soprano duets, primarily in the art song, oratorio and opera genres.
“Soprani Compagni” formed when Dawson and Huntington were cast together in an opera while doing post-graduate studies at Ball State University.
“We noticed our voices were very different, but blended well,” Dawson said. “A natural friendship developed also because we were both married, had children and were Christian women.”
From there, the duo established themselves as a unique performance and research group.
Dawson’s interest in professional vocal performance began during her high school years, she said.
A 1983 graduate of SHS, Dawson moved to Sylacauga in eighth grade when her father became pastor at the Church of God.
“When I look back at my years in Sylacauga, they were very instrumental in my life,” she said. “I have many wonderful memories.”
Dawson, who now keeps up with her Sylacauga friends primarily through Facebook, said she “participated in everything I could do musically and dramatically” at SHS.
Dawson said her music teacher, Suzy Hammonds, was particularly important in developing her interests.
“She was a real bright spot for me,” Dawson said. “I just thought she was beautiful and had this wonderful voice, and I was infatuated with the things she had done in her career. It really sparked an interest in me.”
Hammonds, who is now retired after 25 years at Sylacauga city schools, said it is “wonderful” that Dawson is performing at Carnegie Hall.
“I am not surprised in the least,” Hammonds said. “She was always talented and a delightful person. As a teacher, you hope to make a difference, and that hope is validated when a student is so successful. For them to give you any credit at all, I have trouble putting into words what that means to me. God did most of the work, and I just tweaked it a little.”
Dawson went on to graduate from Anderson University and later received a Masters in vocal performance from the University of Kentucky and a Doctorate from Ball State.
The future of “Soprani Compagni” is bright, Dawson said.
“We have a lot of plans and dreams,” she said. “We would love to do some recordings and publish an anthology of soprano pieces. We believe and know our performance at Carnegie Hall will give us some great opportunities.”
Dawson, who has three children with her husband of 24 years, Mark, said her career has taken a lot of turns, but she could not be more pleased with how life has evolved.
“There has been an ebb and flow to my career, as with many mothers,” she said. “You wonder how in the world God could put all these pieces together in your life, but in his time, he gives us opportunities. I am thankful, excited, overwhelmed and yet not surprised, because he is in control.”
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.