April ’13 has not let her impressive accomplishments in singing turn her into a diva offstage. During her interview with The UltraViolet, April insisted that her achievements as a singer aren’t a “huge deal.” Modest and soft-spoken, she seemed reluctant to receive the attention. However, this soprano with a three-octave range wasn’t afraid to take center stage when she sang in front of professional vocal experts in a competition in New York City last summer. Why should she? She’s been singing since second grade.
According to music instructor Ernie Scarbrough, April excels in a wide variety of vocal genres, an ability that is rare among singers.
“I think the two [styles] she’s especially good at are diametrically opposed,” Scarbrough said. “She’s very good at opera, and she’s very good at R&B.”
April said she agreed that singing such different styles of music is a difficult task.
“It takes a lot of discipline because you need to know how to switch back and forth,” she said.
Last May, April’s vocal abilities brought her to New York to compete against singers from high schools nationwide in Classical Singer Magazine’s 2010 High School Competiton. After making it past the first round of auditions in Los Angeles, April traveled to New York with over a hundred other singers to compete in the next stage of the contest. During the four days of competition, April learned from expert vocalists and attended master classes to hone her skills.
Though she did not advance to the second round, April’s main goal upon entering the contest was not to win but to improve her vocal talents.
“I just wanted to see where I was in comparison to other singers. You really don’t have an idea until you put yourself out there,” April said.
At Marlborough, April is a new member of Chamber Choir this year and will play Matron “Mama” Morton in the upcoming All-School Musical, “Chicago.” She has also been chosen three times to participate in the Vocalist in Residence program. Organized by Scarbrough, the Vocalist in Residence program annually selects approximately four Marlborough singers through an audition process and gives them the opportunity to build upon their vocal techniques with workshops and individual coaching from a visiting professional singer.
Many of April’s fellow Chamber Choir members see her as an extremely talented performer and a lovable personality in the close-knit group of singers. April’s friends and classmates in the Performing Arts Department often call her by her numerous nicknames, including “Soupy Sue,” her role in the 2008 All-School Musical “Urinetown.”
Chamber Choir member Hannah ’12 recalls the first time she heard Cho sing, at the 2009 Marlborough talent show.
“I was blown away. I think everyone else was too. Sometimes I think she’s not even aware of how awesome she is,” Hannah said.
In second grade, April joined the Opera California Youth Choir (OCYC), a Korean- American group with over 70 members from ages 7 to 18. Ever since April started singing with OCYC, she has worked tirelessly to improve her voice, both with the choir and at private lessons.
The members of April’s choir not only share a passion for singing but also participate in community service and missionary work together. This past summer, April went to China with OCYC on a mission trip, donating 15 keyboards to a music school for underprivileged children. The keyboards were purchased using proceeds from the choir’s performances and gave the Chinese students a new opportunity to enjoy music and express themselves.
“More than my competitions and performances, it’s about what I can do to help others with my voice,” April said.
In 2009, April performed four songs with world-famous vocalist Lena Marie. Marie, who had collaborated with OCYC in the past, came to America while on tour and requested a young singer from the Choir for her live performance. After April’s OCYC instructor recommended her, April soon found herself singing alongside Marie.
Their concert raised $15,000 towards helping students with disabilities earn college scholarships.
After she graduates, April hopes to continue singing.
“Singing is definitely my main passion,” she said. “Once you have music in your life, you can’t take that away. I really can’t live without music.”