Classical music rocks CSULB student’s world
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Updated: Sunday, December 2, 2012 19:12
As senior music major Anthony Moreno slept through the community college math classes he took to appease his parents, he never dreamt that five years down the road he would be singing opera.
And he certainly never thought he would be competing at the national level.
With only five years of opera experience under his belt, Moreno competed earlier this year in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, an annual singing competition sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera.
Moreno, a transfer student at Cal State Long Beach, was among a few participants to qualify at the district level in San Diego and went on to receive an Encouragement Award at the Western Regional Finals in November.
“The Encouragement Award is a great accomplishment,” Moreno said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done to go out there right off the bat and not only to win the district, but also to sing and do just as well as some of the [Los Angeles] Opera young artists who sing with LA Opera on a regular basis.”
While he did not advance to the semifinals in New York, Moreno said he was happy with how far he had gotten in the competition, considering he was competing against singers who had twice as much experience as he did.
“I'm 27 years old; normally at that level most people have been singing for 10 years,” Moreno said. “Usually they figure it out in high school … they're in musical theater or they're taking voice lessons, and they want to continue their musical studies, but for me that wasn't the case.”
Moreno got his start in music with a heavy metal band in community college. Eager to fulfill the high aspirations he had for his rock ‘n’ roll band, Moreno enrolled in a voice class, but the band soon fell apart.
“I was taking lessons with hopes of starting up a new band, [but] then I got into the opera workshop [at El Camino College], and I thought, ‘This is so much fun,’” Moreno said.
Gradually, Moreno said his interest shifted from rock to classical music. He learned how to read sheet music and landed a few roles in performances on campus.
“Once I got on stage and it was just me singing … telling a story and watching the [audience’s] faces following along, it was overwhelming,” Moreno said. “I just couldn't get enough of it. From then on, I just dedicated myself to classical music.”
William Doyle, a music professor at ECC and one of Moreno’s first music teachers, discovered Moreno when looking for singers to perform one part to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“In the last couple years he was at El Camino, I just watched him grow,” Doyle said. “He has worked really hard at becoming an excellent vocalist, especially in the opera category, so he is somebody who is going to have a career in music. I can see that.”
Since transferring to CSULB, Moreno has been the lead performer in two operas on campus and is preparing for his third.
According to Jonathan Talberg, professor in the music department at CSULB, it is very rare for a student to have a lead role in three operas in three years.
Talberg said it is also rare for students to make it as far as Moreno did in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
“I’ve been at CSULB for 13 years, and in those 13 years, we’ve had six people get to [Moreno’s] level in the Met competitions,” Talberg said. “I expect the trajectory of his career to be long and successful.”