03/10/11 — Madeline Edwards will perform with national Honors Ensemble

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Madeline Edwards will perform with national Honors Ensemble

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 10, 2011 1:46 PM

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Madeline Edwards, a 10th-grader at Eastern Wayne, will perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in June with the All-National Honors Ensemble.

Wayne County's resident operatic songbird, Madeline Edwards, should be singing a very happy tune these days since being accepted to the state's School of the Arts and chosen for a national choir that will perform at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in late June.

The sophomore at Eastern Wayne High School was named one of 330 participants in the 2011 All-National Honors Ensemble, which features a concert band, orchestra, mixed choir and jazz band. The 15-year-old soprano will be part of the mixed choir.

Madeline's musical journey began early. The daughter of Michael and Kelli Edwards of Goldsboro has been performing since age 4 and aspires to be an opera singer.

In 2007, at age 11, she performed live on CBS' "The Early Show" in New York City after winning the months-long "Living Room...Live!" nationwide talent competition.

She has taken voice lessons in Raleigh since elementary school, all leading up to the latest auditions that have paid off, said Dallas Montague, choral director at Eastern Wayne and Madeline's teacher for the past two years.

The audition process for the national chorus was a four-part screening that took approximately a month, he said. Most of it was done via MP3 recordings that were submitted.

In June, she will travel to Washington for rehearsals and workshops that will culminate in the performance at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on June 27. Outstanding student musicians from around the country are selected to be part of the event, along with renowned instructors to work with them.

"One of her idols is Charlotte Church," Montague said. "She sounds like a very young Charlotte Church when she performs solo. This girl knocks off a high B flat without breaking a sweat."

Montague said he has enjoyed working with the young prodigy and was excited about the announcement that she will be performing at the national level.

"She is the first in the history of Wayne County to go to this event," he said. "She was also the first this year to be named to the N.C. Honors Chorus from Eastern Wayne."

At the same time, he took note of the fact that his time as one of her music teachers will soon come to a conclusion.

"I will be losing her next year because she will be going to the N.C. School of the Arts," he said. "I'm just thankful to have had her for the two years I have had her."

On the heels of being notified about the national choir, her family got the call that she had been accepted at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Mom Kelli Edwards, a kindergarten teacher at Tommy's Road Elementary School, said it was a surprise, since the news came the same day as her daughter's audition at the Winston-Salem school.

"We were on the way home when they called and said she had gotten in," Mrs. Edwards said. "We thought we would hear over the summer as they have to make room for the college students, the paying students, first."

As if that weren't enough, her mother said Madeline also recently interviewed for the prestigious Governor's School, a six-week summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students.

In the fall, as a junior, she will enroll at UNC School of the Arts, formerly N.C. School of the Arts, a state-supported, residential school established by the General Assembly in 1963. It is the state's only public arts conservatory and became part of the N.C. system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking and music.

At Eastern Wayne, she is one of 11 members of the vocal ensemble, an audition-only group.

But beyond being a featured soloist at the school and in the community, Montague said she is a well-rounded young lady.

"She has been a teacher's dream," he said. "She comes in, she does what she needs to do. She's an honor student. She has been involved not only in the academics here but also in cross country track and swimming, and all this while dealing with Type I diabetes.

"She's a phenomenal student. I'm definitely going to miss her next year."