With hopes of pursuing studies in music upon graduation, soprano Colleen Donnelly (’14) recently gave a solo performance to an appreciative audience in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. The Sunday-afternoon concert, held in preparation for Miss Donnelly’s audition for music school, featured arias from the Classical and Baroque periods as well art songs and opera arias from the Romantic period, moving into the 20th century.
“The recital was a blast!” Miss Donnelly reports “I enjoyed the variety, but I know it was challenging for my accompanists. Joe Kucel (’16) and Paul Grimes (’15) were so great to work with, and I am very grateful for their hard work. I also want to thank everyone who came to listen. Support for an artist is a such a big thing, and I really appreciate it.”
Below is a brief interview with Miss Donnelly about her musical training and future aspirations:
How would you describe your background in music?
I have been singing in church choir since I was seven and performed my first solo in recital at age nine. My music experience has always been both liturgical and theatrical.
At home (White Rock, British Columbia), I am still part of my parish choir, under the direction of my father, Mark Donnelly (’89) . We primarily sing Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. Besides the main church choir, I am also part of a smaller chamber group that focuses on more difficult polyphony, mostly by Palestrina. At TAC, I have put this choral experience to work for Chrysostomos, a student-run chamber choir. For the past year, however, I have been re-focusing on my solo voice work. Giving glory to God through this beautiful musical heritage of the Catholic Church is one of the most important parts of my life.
I am also really passionate about theater. I sang with the Vancouver Opera children’s chorus until I was 16, and most of high school was spent performing lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan productions in local amateur groups. My father has been my primary voice teacher since the very beginning. My training is classical, with applications from opera to musical theater. Here at the College, I performed Pamina in the school choir’s production of The Magic Flute  in 2012. I dream of performing more roles like this as a professional.
What made you decide to come to Thomas Aquinas College, rather than to a conventional music school?
If I were to pursue music academically, and possibly professionally, I would be entering an environment that often challenges God and Christian morality. I realized that I needed a strong foundation in my Catholic faith and the skills to defend it. I knew that taking four years off from “official” music training could be detrimental, especially since I am a soprano. (“Sopranos grow on trees,” as they say, and competition is high, even in normal circumstances.) However, the importance of faith, truth, and wisdom outweighed the drawback of being away from intense musical studies for quite a while. God’s will be done in all things. If I am meant to continue music academically and/or professional, He will provide.
In what ways has the College prepared you for your future musical endeavors?
I came to the College to develop my reasoning and to grow in my knowledge of the Catholic faith and philosophical tradition. The College has given me this and so much more. These past four years have given me not only the beginnings of wisdom but also a solid spiritual foundation. I am so grateful for the intensely Catholic atmosphere of TAC. I know that this will sustain me for many years to come. I only hope that I can bring some of TAC to a world and profession that needs it so much.