Sandia Prep junior sings her way to Carnegie Hall

·3 min read

Dec. 3—At age 7, Sofia Chalamidas was doing what most children her age do — belting out a song she liked as it streamed through the air at her grandmother's house.

This would turn out to be a fateful moment that has led her to the stage of the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Her grandmother, JoAnn Romero, was nearby and listened as Chalamidas sang along to a song from "Phantom of the Opera."

"We were at her house in the kitchen" Chalamidas said. "She was the one who discovered I could sing."

Romero mentioned to Chalamidas' mother, Rita Finley Chalamidas, that the then second-grader might actually have some talent. Rita Finley Chalamidas signed her daughter up for voice lessons with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony.

Chalamidas, now 17, said it was her first stage performance a short time later in a production of "Noah's Flood" that ignited and solidified her passion for singing. One of her biggest professional inspirations was American classical singer Jackie Evancho, who achieved recognition at a very young age.

"My first time performing on stage was surreal," she said. "That's when I got into it."

Last month, Chalamidas learned she had been selected for the 2022 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. The honor is given to the "highest-rated high school performers from across the world" according to a news release. Chalamidas is a junior at Sandia Preparatory School and was nominated by a panel of New Mexico music teachers. She had to audition for the role by submitting a recording of her singing.

Chalamidas was selected from a pool of 10,000 nominees from around the globe.

In early February, she will join 500 high school students from the United States, Australia, Bermuda, China, Guam and South Korea for a special performance at Carnegie Hall. The students will rehearse with world-renowned conductors, and have a chance to attend a Broadway show and take in the sights of New York.

Chalamidas has continued with voice lessons and is now a member of the Young Voices of the Santa Fe Opera. In addition to singing, she loves to hike and took up running, which she said has helped her singing because she's better able to control her breathing. She said her mother and grandmother are her personal inspirations, and pushed her to work hard. She said she hopes to attend college at either New York University or Carnegie Mellon University, and become a professional singer.

She said she's looking forward to connecting with people her age who have the same passion and drive that she does.

"I love New York City," she said. "Honestly, I love the endless opportunity there. It's the center of the world to me."

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