Brainerd High School senior Mandy Copa feels blessed to have the voice she has.
Copa said she can bring tears to people's eyes when she sings, and this year she received two standing ovations for a solo she sang.
Copa, who was named Fine Arts Student of the Week for her work in the BHS A Cappella Choir, sang a solo called "Freedom is in Your Hands" by Anders Nyberg at the guest conductor's concert and at the Central Lakes Conference Festival at the College of St. Benedict this year.
"It was really rewarding," Copa said about receiving two standing ovations.
Copa said the song is about Africans' struggles for freedom. She said the song was an improvisation and she had to make up the notes as she sang.
"It came out awesome," she said. "I'm definitely proud of it. The choir sang background and clapped and it was fun."
Copa is always nervous before a solo, but once she is on stage she is fine. Copa has performed solos for the past three years. She sang a solo in Concert Chorale as a sophomore and has done one in the past two years in a cappella choir.
At 3:10 p.m. on the last day of Copa's sophomore year she found out she made the cut for a cappella choir. She said the whole day she was nervous and when she saw her name on the list she told a friend, "Holy cow. We got in."
"It's a big deal to get into a cappella choir," said Copa. "BHS A Cappella Choir has a great reputation and Mr. Smith is awesome."
Mike Smith, a cappella choir director who nominated Copa, said, "Mandy has a wonderful, positive attitude. She works hard at developing her voice, being a leader in every group she is in, and is willing to help out whenever needed."
Copa, who has been in choir every school year of her life except two, said her parents' love of music rubbed off on her, plus she loves to sing. Copa's mother plays the guitar and sings, and was on national television when she was 8. Her father sang in his high school choir.
Art focus: BHS A Cappella Choir
Art activities: A cappella choir and Windfall
Favorite subjects: A cappella choir
Most memorable fine arts achievement: Receiving a standing ovation for her solo at the guest conductors concert and at the Central Lakes Conference Festival at the College of St. Benedict this year
Artist most admired: Martina McBride
Favorite movie: Happy Gilmore
Favorite TV program: Smallville
Favorite song: Life After Death and Taxes by Relient K
Parents: Deb Hoeschen of Brainerd and Martin Copa of Brainerd
Since 10th grade, Copa said she's been known as a small person with a big, awesome voice.
Copa sings in Windfall and she has sung in the Region 8AA All-Conference Choir, where she received superior ratings at the region solo and ensemble contest. Copa is the alto two section leader in a cappella choir.
"I take pride in our alto two section," she said. "We're the foundation of the choir ... in my opinion."
Copa said she can sing soprano, but she feels more comfortable singing alto. She said the alto two section has a higher sound than the alto one section.
The choir is preparing for its mini-spring trip in April. The choir will sing at two different high schools and a church and will see a play in the Twin Cities. The choir also will record a compact disc of its songs.
The choir also is rehearsing for its spring pop concert in May, where it will sing a melody by George Gershwin and a melody from the Phantom of the Opera, among others.
Copa said it has not yet been determined who will sing solos for the spring concert.
"I wouldn't be too upset if I didn't get one," said Copa. "I already sang an awesome solo."
Copa was the choir aide where she was responsible for attendance and making sure students attended their sectional practice. She also helps students in her section with notes.
Copa said she needs to work on site reading and when she can take breaths when she sings.
"I take lessons and I have trouble breathing," said Copa. "I breathe whenever I want and I need to work on that."
After high school, Copa plans to attend North Central University in the Twin Cities to study contemporary Christian music or church music.
"I hope to be a professional Christian singer," said Copa. "If I'm determined enough, I know I can do it. But my backup plan is to be a worship leader at a church."
Scott Pagel, sophomore, art: Pagel's art adviser said, "Scott is incredibly dedicated to his craftsmanship in metal arts. He is innovative with the designs he creates and finishes his work with superb technical skill."
Ashton Madsen, senior, mock trial: At the state mock trial, Madsen held her ground as a witness under intense cross examination, earning her the highest score of a 10.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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