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Seaford singer opens up on stage

Ninth-grader preps for next performance in March

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Angelina LaVolpe, 14, of Seaford, is rather quiet. She comes across as careful, introverted. Socially, she admits to being shy. But you would have a hard time believing all that after watching this talented singer perform.

“She is a totally different person when she’s on stage,” said Angelina’s mother, Justine LaVolpe, 49. “She is loud on stage, she is animated and she really loves performing.”

Angelina has sung at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Citi Field and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. A freshman at Seaford High School, she is a member of the school’s Treble Choir and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

Her affinity for performance does not mean a lack of nerves, though. “I still get nervous,” Angelina said. “Singing, I would say, is my best way of communication, though.”

She practices every day, often twice a day. Her mother supports her. Even when she isn’t home, Justine sends her YouTube videos that may inspire her. “I am one hundred percent supportive, because I know this is what she wants,” Justine said. “So I’m always sending her little clips and videos and telling her to keep practicing.”

In fact, Justine’s taste in music — “a lot of 1980s rock ballads,” she said with a chuckle — has influenced her daughter’s as well.

Angelina said she has enjoyed singing since kindergarten. At the time, it was just fun. She started taking it more seriously a few years later. When she was in fourth grade at Seaford Harbor Elementary School, she was auditioned for,

and was accepted into, the New York State School Music Association Level 1 chorus. Linda Grieco, Harbor’s choral teacher at the time, was one of the first to recognize Angelina’s natural talent. “She really pushed me to do more performances and talent shows,” Angelina said of Grieco.

In fifth grade, Angelina successfully auditioned for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. The group requires a reaudition every two years, which she has passed twice. Five years in, she is now a member of MYO’s Symphonic Choir, for high school students.

Justine saw her daughter’s early interest and skill, and has since enlisted the help of several Long Island vocal coaches to help her progress. Two of them were Tracy Adams and Rosemary Capaldo. “They really helped me with my vocal dynamics,” Angelina explained. “How to properly pronounce words, how to be louder at times and how to be softer when I need to be.”

She is currently training with Valerie Pezzulo and Mark Marino of MM Music in Massapequa. She also credits Seaford Middle School’s choral teacher Amanda Ferguson, with her progress when she entered sixth grade. That year, Angelina performed a NYSSMA Level 5 solo — in Italian — and earned a perfect score of 100. According to Ferguson, it was the first perfect score for a Level 5 performance in the middle school’s history.

Angelina is now on Level 6, the program’s highest level. Next year she will audition for a spot in the All-State chorus.

At 12, she sang in MYO’s 25th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall. Her appearances at Lincoln Center, Citi Field and NYCB Live have all been with MYO. She is scheduled to sing the national anthem before a New York Mets game at Citi Field in June.

After performing with MYO, NYSSMA and the Seaford Middle School choir in sixth grade, Angelina became more focused and confident. “I think between sixth and seventh grade, that’s honestly where I started to think I was good,” she said, glancing at her mom. “People started telling me I was good, and I guess I didn’t really mind the praise.” She entered a middle-school talent show in seventh grade, and finished second. “I sang ‘Home Sweet Home,’ by Motley Crue,” she said. Her mother flashed a sly smile.

Most recently, classical music has become Angelina’s favorite genre. Performing songs in a language she doesn’t speak, she said, is an interesting challenge.

In middle school, she began to think seriously about a future in music. In seventh grade she began studying piano again, having abandoned the instrument several years earlier. According to her mom, she is an honor roll student and Angelina said she particularly enjoys algebra, but music remains her passion. Next year she plans to enroll in a music theory course offered at the high school. Music is her “only career option,” she said, and she hopes to continue singing at her “dream school,” Adelphi University. She wants to be either a school music teacher or own her own business offering private vocal lessons.

In the meantime, she is preparing for her next gig, a solo performance of three songs at the Oceanside Library on March 6, celebrating the opening of an exhibition by artist Lilian Reznicek, Angelina’s preschool teacher. She will sing “Wrecking Ball,” by Miley Cyrus; “Over the Rainbow,” from “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Come Sail Away,” by Styx.

Asked about the most important factors in her continued growth as a performer, Angelina said, “Confidence, bravery and practice.”