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Nov. 17, 2018 | Saturday
Local News
Voicing dreams of Broadway
Sydney Cornett. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

Although there’s no denying she’s got the pipes for it, 15-year-old Sydney Cornett has no interest in becoming the next Taylor Swift.

The classically-trained singer, who has already scooped up more than 35 first-place awards in competitions, has her sights set somewhere else — Broadway.

“I’m hard-wired for classical,” said Sydney, during a chat with her and her mother Elisabeth at their St. Catharines home Sunday afternoon.

Looking around the house, you might think a lineage of musicians lived here. There’s a piano in the front room, next to a guitar stand with an acoustic and a ukulele.

But as you would learn, it’s all Sydney’s.

As Sydney puts it — and her mother agrees — her musical talent is “an isolated incident” in the family.

Neither of them are quite sure where her talent came from, though it didn’t take long for her parents to notice.

The first time Elisabeth “really knew something was going on musically” was when Sydney was just a baby, and somebody brought her a wind-up toy that played Braham’s Lullaby.

“So I gave her this pink thing, wound it up and she just started doing this (baby voice) … I’m like what is she doing?”

That’s when she realized a mobile in Sydney’s crib also played Braham’s Lullaby, and Sydney was trying to communicate that the crib and toy played the same song.

“I thought, is this normal?”

Sydney, who said she doesn’t remember all of that, has never really known a time where she wasn’t involved in music.

She started piano lessons at three-years-old and classical vocal training at nine, though she admits she truly found her passion in musical theatre two years ago, when she “fell in love” with the musical Hamilton and got involved with Yellow Door Theatre Project in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It was then she truly came out of her shell, she said.

“It was just a really amazing experience … you get to work with professional and people who have been in the industry and that obviously is a really good opportunity for young people.”

For Sydney, meeting all sorts of new people in a safe and encouraging environment was a big part of what made her fall in love with musical theatre.

Before catching the musical theatre bug, she admits even she didn’t have a lot of desire to add acting and dancing into the mix with her singing. 

She recalls a time where she would much prefer to just stand still, sing and get it over with.

“We picked up that is really not a good thing to pursue a career in music,” Sydney said.

She said though her mother basically forced her into attending Yellow Door, she’s glad for it and hasn't looked back since.

Now her sights are set on a getting a bachelor of arts in vocal performance when she finishes high school.

Ideally she’d like to go to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she has already been accepted to a fairly exclusive summer program this year.

Getting into the school will require her to be in the top three per cent of applicants.

With her long list of accomplishments, including a first place at the 2018 Elite International Music Competition held at Carnegie Hall in New York City, she seems well on her way.

Sydney said she doesn't know where singing might take her, though she said Broadway, or singing at the Metropolitan Opera, would be a “dream come true.” 

Specifically, she’d love to be in the Phantom of the Opera.

Sydney will be performing at Yellow’s annual Spring Talent Show April 28 at Redekopp Creative and Performing Arts Centre in Virgil. 

As of Sunday, she said she’s not sure what song she’s going to sing, though regardless, whether it’s from a musical she loves like Anastasia or by an indie artist like Dodie Clark, Sydney’s performance is sure to raise your arm hairs.

Sydney played a couple songs on Sunday, check one of them out below.

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