BERLIN — Katerina Burton, a graduate of Stephen Decatur and Towson University, has been accepted to attend The Juilliard School in New York City to pursue her Master’s degree in Music.
Burton belongs to Stephen Decatur Class of 2012 and recently graduated from Towson in the spring with a Bachelor’s degree in Music with a focus in Vocal Performance.
Burton plans to continue her study of music and vocal performance concentration once at Juilliard.
Opera, Burton explained, is her favorite style to perform.
“Singing opera allows me to sing something to an audience that they can connect with,” said Burton. “Opera is everything about life. Everybody has this perception about opera that it’s all about drama but in reality it connects to real life.”
Burton portrayed lead roles in operas “The Magic Flute” and “Suor Angelica” during her time at Towson. She loved the depth and liveliness of operatic characters.
Burton has also performed locally in the Young Artist’s Concert Series and at the Ocean Pines Children’s Theatre.
Burton performed two farewell concerts as part of her “Rising Star” concert series at Bethany United Methodist Church in Berlin on Friday, June 16 and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Ocean City on Saturday, June 17.
Admission to the concerts was free, but attendees donated nearly $5,000 towards Burton’s education expenses.
Burton has also set up a gofundme page in order to crowd source donations online. The goal set is $12,000. According the gofundme page, Burton is attempting to raise funds in order to cover almost half of her Juilliard tuition costs.
The soprano performed classics like Puccini’s Musetta’s waltz from the opera La Bohème as well as other examples of opera and art song which she described as “poetry set to music.”
“Everybody loves Puccini,” Burton joked.
The vocalist has a repertoire of songs in a variety of languages including English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Norwegian, and Czechoslovakian, though she commented that French is the trickiest language for her personally.
However, not knowing the language she is singing in should not impede the audience’s understanding of the pieces in Burton’s opinion. For her, music is all about communication, something she prides herself in being skilled in. She wanted her audiences to have fun and provided explanations for the pieces prior to performing them.
“I had an amazing audience both nights,” Burton said.
Burton explained while some questioned her decision to stick with classical pieces, in the end she inspired audience members to seek out more classical music, which is her “ultimate goal” as an artist.
According to Lyn Burr, a 26-year member of the Bethany United Methodist Church choir, “[Burton] is amazing now. Her vocal range, her technique, her presence… it’s awe-inspiring.”
“I’ve always known she was going to make it to the MET,” but now, Burr says, it is real.
Burton credits her experience at Towson and her Towson voice teacher Teri Bickham with laying the strong foundation for her technique, repertoire, and experience.
Bickham described Burton’s success as “inevitable” due to her raw talent and persistent work ethic.
“She has worked so hard and deserves every success, so I am beyond excited for her and proud of her accomplishments. It is such a joy to see someone rewarded for their hard work in honing their craft,” Bickham said, “She is an excellent musician, and she truly understands the art of ‘making’ music.”
Burton is the first of Bickham’s students to be accepted Juilliard.
At Juilliard, Burton will be taking Masters Classes with professors she described as the greatest artists in the world.
In order to even be accepted, Burton had to submit a video of her performing to make it past Juilliard’s prescreening. Next, she auditioned live in front of Juilliard faculty and voice coaches.
“It was a very intimidating process” Burton said.
The percent of applicants admitted to Juilliard in 2015 was just 7.2 percent.
Burton hopes to leave Juilliard as a more developed, solidified artist. Her main goal is to establish who she is as an artist so that she can come out a stronger performer than when she went in.