Two Cranbrook girls pursuing their dreams
By Ken Matthias
Why would a young woman move away from her hometown, to the east side of our great country, to pursue a difficult career in performing arts? According to Caitlin McCaughey, because she, “loves the language of performance.”
Caitlin McCaughey and Amanda Weatherall are two driven and ambitious young ladies who would say that they found their passion for singing through a journey of discovery starting from an early age.
Caitlin always loved to sing and perform, spending a decade in Highland Dance from the age of eight, spending her summers at a Salvation Army Music Camp, taking up trombone, and falling in love with performing for a live audience through musical theatre in school.
Amanda had a musical childhood as well. Starting piano lessons at age three, listening to Classical Kids tapes containing the stories and music of famous composers while she cleaned her room, dancing also with Caitlin in Highland Dance, and singing and playing trumpet in high school.
In response to what triggered her to consider a career in performing arts, Amanda recalled two Mount Baker Secondary School music program trips she took to Vienna, Austria, where they had the opportunity to tour and stand on the stage of the Vienna State Opera House, and a trip to Spokane, Washington, where they took in two operas. Amanda also was inspired by attending the local symphony and witnessing performances where a soloist sang with the symphony, and seemingly prophetically thinking, “I want to do that one day.” It was in these times that she began solidifying the thought that classical music is what she wanted to do with her life.
For Caitlin, though she loved music and performance, it was not until her first choice of degree in school fell through due to scheduling issues that she, “on a whim,” auditioned at a music school which began her journey to becoming a classical singer. The history of opera and classical music fascinated her.
Both young ladies’ pursuit of a career in performing arts has required determination, patience, and passion. Though clearly skilled and educated in their craft, to achieve any level of success in their field requires hard work. Constant practice and persistent auditioning, while often needing secondary income, requires a tenacity and sometimes tough skin. Amanda says, “Many doors will get closed, but eventually, some will open.”
Both Caitlin and Amanda have had opportunity to work with the Canadian Opera Company, one of Canada’s most prestigious opera houses, recently performing with the COC’s Chorus in the production Otello. Amanda explained that many young artists audition to be accepted into what is known as a Young Artist Program. Generally, this is a one-year or two-year apprenticeship program which helps get your foot in the door, and helps validate you for future opportunities. The Canadian Opera Company describes their Young Artist Program as, “a premier training program for young opera professionals,” which can be, “a launching pad to a future international career.”
In relation to the upcoming East Kootenay Performing Arts Regional Festival February 21 – March 11, and the Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival coming to Cranbrook in June, 2020, Caitlin and Amanda were both asked how did festivals and competition play a part in your development, and what advice would you give to those young performers that could be helpful?
Caitlin speaks to the younger generation, “Do not allow your personal insecurities hold you back… do it even if you are scared. You may find that the place you thought would be the most uncomfortable is actually the place you feel most yourself.” Caitlin thrived off of live performance, not feeling threatened by other performers, but instead challenging herself to watch and analyze the other competitors to push herself to get even better. Caitlin encourages young people to allow themselves to be stretched, and to try different artistic styles and genres, and to have fun!
Amanda wanted to share, “Know that you are good enough.” When in festival, or competition style events, feedback and adjudication is given with a desire to help develop you as an artist; not to compare you to others.
There are many artistical expressions needed in performing arts. Uniqueness is as valuable a commodity as talent. Be the best ‘you’ you can be. Don’t be someone else. Work hard, be passionate, and have fun!
Caitlin McCaughey and Amanda Weatherall are returning to Cranbrook to perform with the Symphony of the Kootenays in Cranbrook Divas – A Homecoming at Key City Theatre on Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 each.