Three outstanding vocalists from the Academy of the Holy Angels have been named to the 2023 Carnegie Hall Honors Performance Series. AHA’s nominees are Caroline Ko of Hoboken, Victoria Velasco of Woodcliff Lake, and Isabella Wisniewski of Paramus.
Wisniewski was also invited to sing at the Honors Performance Series at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.
AHA Choral Director Lisa Marciano nominated the vocalists, who then submitted applications and recordings of themselves singing. As members of the international high school choir, they are recognized as some of the world’s finest young musicians. They will work with a prominent conductor for four days before they present their concert.
“These three AHA vocalists are dedicated members of the choir and have been members since freshman year,” Marciano said. The honorees are also members of Seraphima, AHA’s select a cappella ensemble. “Honors Performance Series participants gain invaluable experience and work under some wonderful conductors.”
Isabella Wisniewski, a soprano, was eager to apply for the programs in New York and Sydney.
“I always enjoyed singing songs in pre-K and would continue singing them at home. Additionally, I enjoyed composing my own tunes. I have been playing the piano since I was five years old, so music has always been a part of my life,” Wisniewski explained.
Listening to popular vocalists was an early inspiration.
“I would marvel at how amazing the singers’ voices are and I would feel so happy as I sang along. As I have gotten older and more serious about music, I believe that the joy I get from music, and the joy it has brought me my whole life, is what really sparked my interest in vocal performance, and in music in general.
“I have always dreamed of visiting Carnegie Hall and attending a performance there, and it seems surreal that I will be performing on one of the most famous stages in the world.”
Caroline Ko describes singing as her first and favorite hobby.
“It was my favorite activity to do simultaneously while waiting to eat dinner, reading a book, or playing at the playground,” Ko shared. While she sings soprano for the AHA Choir and Seraphima, she will be singing alto for the honors chorus.
“My interest in vocal performance stems from particular role models I was obsessed with as a kid. I always found inspiration when I watched one of Katy Perry, Adele, or Taylor Swift's music videos. I wanted to have a powerful stage presence like them and for people to gasp when they heard me sing an especially piercing note. I also wanted to disappear into the music for a little bit and just enjoy how it made me and my audience feel.”
Ko has performed at school, church, and on other local stages. This will be the first time she will appear at a world renowned venue.
“I felt intense relief knowing that the long hours I had spent crafting my application had paid off,” Ko said after hearing of her acceptance. “I also felt extremely excited to pursue this future experience in music. It was honestly baffling to me that I had made it into a music program at Carnegie Hall.”
Ko is involved in AHA’s theater productions, PowerBack (a group that focuses on healthy relationships), and Model UN. She spends her free time playing piano and guitar and reading.
Victoria Velasco said that being accepted is an electrifying experience. She has already begun counting the days until the start of the program.
“I credit my interest in wanting to grow in vocal performance to my exposure to music as a child,” Velasco said. “I’ve always had a musical ear, and perfect pitch, which has allowed me to listen and experience music in a completely different way. The feeling I got when I first experienced vocal performance was unlike anything I had ever felt before, and since then, it has been a dream and a passion of mine that I cannot live without.”
Velasco enjoys volunteering at her local youth theater and performing arts center, writing, drawing, painting, and discovering fashion as a form of expression. She is involved in the AHA Theater Arts Program, and sings soprano for the AHA Choir and Seraphima.
AHA has sent vocalists to Carnegie Hall since 2017, when Hanora Chapman attended for the first time. In 2019, Chapman and Maria Guyre (both AHA ’19) and Leah Sanchez (AHA ’20), set the Academy’s record of sending three vocalists to the honors choir in the same year.