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TA Graduate to Study Opera at Boston University Tanglewood Summer Institute

Music has always been a big part of my family. My mom used to be a piano teacher, I have aunts and uncles who are very involved in music and I grew up listening to a lot of Jazz. It’s always been the culture of my family to either have music on or be singing along to something. We just see music as a way to bring our family together. 

Those early, long-term experiences with music really set the stage for the rest of my life, and came of great value to me as I grew. I became interested in performing arts, and later in the technicalities of singing, which I’m most interested in today. 

I’m a young singer from Maine and live in Saco. I just graduated from Thornton Academy, and this summer I have the amazing opportunity to attend the Tanglewood Summer Institute through Boston University, which is connected to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

I started studying Opera Singing online during the pandemic. At TA, I was active in the performing arts program, and sang with Chamber Singers and Treble Choir. I also played cello in Orchestra, Trombone in Jazz band and participated in their recent theater production, Fiddler on the Roof.

Right now I study Classical and Opera Singing. That’s what I’m going to school for that has really drawn me in. The first time I tried singing that way, I was a freshman in High School auditioning for All-State Festival.

I’d always sung for musical theater and drama club, but I had never really experienced the way classical singing felt for me. It felt like such a comfortable fit, and it provided me with a confidence I hadn’t quite known before. Operatic singing allows me to express myself in a way I haven’t been able to do with other styles.

With singing, there is no separation between the creative and physical experience. When you’re making music that way, your whole self has to be involved. I’ve always found it to be a very engaging and expressive activity. It takes your whole personality and your whole physical self to sing.

Music becomes another way of expressing yourself, like another set of vocabulary. It becomes an outlet you rely on, that you need to do. When I play an instrument like the Cello, I can feel the music as I play, and it’s such an other-worldly experience. When I sing, it’s a similar feeling. I just get lost in the moment as I allow the music to run through me.

I definitely think the onset of the pandemic was one of the most challenging experiences of my life so far. It was hard for everyone, and that collective shock made knowing how to be there for each other very difficult 

The isolation was scary and impactful, but also incredibly reflective. The experience made me reflect on what is really most important to me — time with my loved ones and working hard on what I am passionate about. It was an important time of tough, introspective realizations. 

But I made it through those tough times and graduated. The past years have been so overwhelming and unpredictable, but I have looked forward to graduation as the intro to the next exciting chapter in my life.

When I’m older, I’d love to be a singer and perform as much as I can. I’d love to travel and sing in different parts of the world I’ve never heard of. I’ve lived in Maine my entire life, so I’m excited to explore and see what the world has to offer.

Receiving my diploma alongside my closest friends was an incredible moment of “I made it.” Now, I wonder “What’s next?” The idea of not knowing what’s to come is exciting and terrifying and beautiful. I know what I want though, and I’m going to work hard to achieve it. I can’t wait to see what adventures await me.

— Maddie Darigan