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Impact

Alyssa Curto PHOTOI enrolled at Westmount Secondary School in grade 11 and immediately joined an improv team called

“The Sketch Comedy Team”, where I was able to contribute both as a performer and as a writer. In addition, I performed in the school musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. There were also many opportunities throughout my three years there in talent shows, school assemblies, and other extra-curricular gatherings (i.e., fundraising “Coffee Houses/Java Nights”). The nurturing and supportive environment of Westmount lent itself well to the large number of artistic students the school housed. I felt as though my talents were appreciated and respected there in a way that I had not previously experienced, and it was wonderful to have so many friends in the same place that had the same passions as me.

From this positive feedback, I was able to explore other outlets for my creativity. I wrote, produced, cast, directed and filmed my first short film. It was a parody of sorts mocking “adolescent” life and all of its “ups and downs”. These experiences led me to pursue a career in the arts, and so I decided to audition for musicals in the community and began researching possible programs in the arts for my post-secondary education. I began formal vocal training, dance training, and piano lessons to become a more well-rounded performer.

It was during my years of training that I decided to focus on my classical voice. I competed in numerous music festivals, receiving several first place standings and scholarships. I auditioned for post-secondary programs in voice at the University of Toronto and The University of Western Ontario. I was fortunate enough to have been accepted to both programs, but decided to accept the offer given to me by the University of Toronto. My voice professor is Jean Macphail, a reputed world-class voice instructor and performer. She has nurtured my voice and I feel that I have grown exponentially under her tutelage.

I was also blessed to have been selected as a student of the opera undergraduate program at the university. This opportunity allows me to collaborate and work with the students in the Master’s program and with the faculty of the Opera Division. As an opera undergrad, I am also involved in all of their main stage performances and am given extra acting instruction.

I am now entering my fourth year in the program and am looking forward to being a part of this year’s main stage productions as well as preparing for my graduating recital. My plans for the future include participating in summer intensive training programs and preparing for auditions for post-graduate studies. It is my dream to become a world-renowned opera performer and to grace the stages of The Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Italy and Covent Garden in England!

The bursaries that I have received have helped me to fund my post-secondary education. There are many extra costs involved in an arts program, particularly in classical voice training. I would not have been able to pursue my passion for performance without the assistance that the HCF scholarship/bursaries offered. They have relieved some financial burdens and worries for my family and me. This has allowed me to focus more on my training and studies.

If given the chance, I would give the donors who made the funds possible the biggest and most heartfelt thank you. I would tell them that their generosity has allowed me to stay in school and earn my degree, without which I likely would not have the same opportunities to advance in a career in the arts. And, I would tell them that with their help, this small-town Hamilton girl might become someone famous one day!

These awards helped reinforce my belief in the importance of helping those who are in need. Once I become financially successful, it is my intention to give back to others in the form of scholarships/bursaries, master classes, etc. and I have people like the members of the HCF committee to thank for impressing upon me how valuable financial aid can be and the difference it can make to the lives of those receiving it. They have given me a new respect for the saying “generosity begins at home”. I am a Hamilton hometown girl and my community helped me when I needed it most.