A Future in Opera
Writer / Hannah Jones
Photographers / Julia Moria Photography, Hannah Jones and Heather Simpson
High school seniors often struggle with difficult, life-changing questions, including whether or not to attend college, or what college major to study and what career to pursue. Many students enter fields such as science, business, or education. Others choose to become journalists, artists, or musicians.
Greenwood Christian Academy senior Alexandra Phillips has struggled with these questions but has found her passion and her future: opera. With inspiration from her family, Alex has grown as a talented singer and performer and is now ready to face college and what lies beyond.
Alex began attending Greenwood Christian Academy in seventh grade. After her first few days at GCA, she was amazed at how many opportunities the school had for her to share her voice with others. She studied voice with her music teacher and later took lessons at the University of Indianapolis. Getting involved in the school’s chapel band, drama department and talent show helped her understand how to work in a group to better herself and others around her. She learned, “Not everyone thinks like Alex,” not all people are brave enough to voice their opinions, and that she had to create deeper relationships with those around her to learn how to communicate well with them. After regularly working with a group of about 10 people, Alex was eager to work with a larger company of students and to perform for larger audiences.
She began performing in both school plays and talent shows, gaining experience along the way. It was not until her freshman year that her future became clear. With the house lights low and the spotlight on her, she began singing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” from “The Phantom of the Opera.” Singing on stage, she felt fulfilled, telling a story of sadness through her voice alone. She finished her song to animated applause and descended the stage.
“I loved it so much, and it was more fun than any other type of singing I had done,” she explained. “I could be as dramatic as I wanted.”
It was not until she found out that she had won the school talent show that she desired to be an opera singer. After her victories in two school talent shows, she went on to perform in GCA productions of “The Music Man,” “Mary Poppins” and “Cinderella,” growing a reputation for having a full voice and beautiful stage presence. She also participated in Solo and Ensemble competition for three years, a competition at DePauw University, a competition at the University of Indianapolis, and one recital per semester at the University of Indianapolis. Her road to college was clear before her, but the path became rocky.
Alex’s father, Dave Philips, was diagnosed with colon cancer Dec. 1, 2016. Since that day, he had a mass removed and returned to the hospital to receive assistance healing from the surgery.
“He has been discouraged, but throughout the whole thing he has never been questioning of God or wavered in his faith,” Alex said.
In addition, she said her father encouraged the family to pray more, no matter what they were doing.
“Seeing that he can grow in his faith through this is very inspiring,” she said.
Alex’s father was discharged from the hospital just in time to celebrate Christmas with his family.
“The whole situation has made me appreciate everything so much more,” Alex said. “I finally understood what really mattered. What mattered was that he was home.”
She was able to celebrate Christmas with her father and it taught her about her life and how she should view it.
“This whole situation has just forced me to focus on what matters on this earth, and it’s eye opening,” she said. “It’s been teaching me that I focus on the little things way too much. When you learn to focus on what really matters, which is Christ, second of all family, you start to realize all the small things begin to fall away and your vision becomes clear.”
Alex hopes to major in opera at DePauw University beginning in the 2017 fall semester, but she is also looking at Ball State University, University of Indianapolis and Butler University. To obtain an audition at the universities’ music schools, she must submit three different singing samples in three different languages. She has to sing “Into the Night,” by Clara Edwards in English, “Deh Vieni Non Tardar,” by Mozart in Italian, and “Si Mes Vers Avaient Des Ailes” in French. She has already received an offer to audition at DePauw University. With family and friends praying for her, she can do whatever she puts her mind to.
Remember the name Alex Philips because you may see it in your next playbill.