Area musician travels to Italy for opera lessons

PHOTO PROVIDED Local musician Amy Peck recently took an opera masterclass in Stia, Italy.

Ever since she was a small child, area native Amy Peck has been infatuated with music. After beginning piano and violin instruction in elementary school, she then took on vocal lessons when she was only 13 years old. From there, Peck continued training throughout her high school and collegiate years, working to refine her skills across many genres, but focusing on classical music and musical theater.

The devotion she has shown to her craft has afforded Peck many big opportunities, as she has been able to perform music on local, regional, national and international stages since she was in junior high.

That continued this summer, when Peck’s musical journey took her on her first trip to Italy, where she attended the Casentino Opera Program. The masterclass, which was led by Valerie Girard and James Gray, was hosted in the Italian town of Stia.

“Having taken some time to study and sing locally, I was ready to travel and sharpen my skills,” said Peck, who holds a degree in vocal performance from Eastern University. “From the many programs available worldwide, I chose this program because the teacher was someone with whom I wanted to work and because I have always wanted to see Italy.

“I had traveled and sang a few times previously in Europe, but Italy was on my bucket list,” she added.

In order to get the opportunity to take the masterclass, Peck had to first audition by sending in videos of her singing and live performances. Once she made the cut, she joined six other participants in the class, which has held during the month of July.

The program itself was very intensive and invoked the use of both private lessons and those in a classroom setting. The class culminated with a program on opera scenes, which were conducted in a beautiful, thousand-year-old cathedral located on the hillside of a small Italian town. The pieces Peck sang included “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion,” from George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah,” and “O Mio Babbino Caro,” which is a soprano aria from Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Gianni Schicchi.”

“I worked on a few other songs in class, but out of the two that I performed, the Puccini song was my favorite because of the passion in the music, the luscious vocal lines and the dramatic character,” Peck said.

Overall, Peck, who was also able to visit places like Rome, Florence, Arezzo and Sorano during her 17-day trip, felt that things couldn’t have gone much better during her stay.

“The experience was excellent,” she said. “It was an extremely challenging course, but very rewarding. It’s amazing to be proud of what you’re doing and to be working with people who have a passion for the same thing you do.”

Though Peck has gotten to perform with many opera programs through the years, in the United States and overseas in places like Hungary, the lessons she received this summer will no doubt stick with her as she progresses in her career as a musician and instructor. With another chapter of her music education now behind her, she can pass what she has learned along to the next generation.

Currently, Peck operates her own studio in downtown Williamsport, where she offers weekly lessons in voice, piano, violin, guitar and acting. Aside from teaching, she also plays all genres of music in local bars and restaurants; and takes time to perform at weddings, funerals and parties. She recently joined the Lock Haven-based band Lixx as a singer and keyboardist.

Along with all of that, she also finds time to perform two annual recitals, which she does to help raise money for local charities.

“I hire a pianist, choose the music, rent the space and then advertise,” she said. “I think it is important to keep sharpening your skills by continuing to perform on stage.”

For more information on Peck and her various musical endeavors, you can reach out to her at amypecksoprano@gmail.com or visit www.amypeckmusic.com.

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