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Teen to perform at Carnegie Hall

When it was announced last month that 16-year-old Colorado opera singer Stephanie Harris had won an international vocal competition and would be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City this winter, the news filled one Detroit Lakes couple with a sense of joy and pride.

Stephanie is the granddaughter of local residents Eugene and Edith Hansen. Her mother, Linda (Hansen) Harris, is a graduate of Detroit Lakes High School as well.

"I visit Detroit Lakes a lot," said Stephanie in a Thursday telephone interview. "I really like it there."

Though she has been a singer all her life, it has only been in the past couple of years that Stephanie has devoted her time and energy toward the study of opera.

"She's progressed really rapidly," said Stephanie's grandmother, Edith Hansen. "She's very, very good at it, and she loves to perform."

About a year ago, Stephanie began working with renowned operatic vocal coach Kate Emerich at the University of Denver in Denver.

Though the family moved to Monument, Colo., in January, she continues to work with Emerich -- despite the 60-mile commute.

"She's very fortunate that they accepted her into their program (at the University of Denver)," said Stephanie's mother, Linda Harris, noting that they usually only accept college-age students.

Because she is so young, Stephanie only sings opera for about 45 minutes to an hour, five days a week, which she calls "keeping my voice in shape -- it's like exercising (for voice)."

As she gets older, the singer will be able to train for longer periods of time, she explained. But for now, she keeps it short to avoid vocal strain.

Though she is young, Stephanie's voice is strong enough to have won her many accolades -- the most recent of which was a winning entry in the Golden Voices of America international vocal competition.

The contest is judged remotely, with contestants asked to record their entries on a concert stage and send them in to be evaluated.

"I knew I had a pretty good chance but I was still really surprised (at the news) because it was such a difficult competition to win," Stephanie said. "At the same time, I knew I did a really good job."

Edith Hansen noted that her granddaughter has always been a confident performer.

"She's not shy about it, so I think she'll do pretty well (in New York)," the proud grandmother said.

"It's very exciting," Stephanie said. "I'm the first person to win this competition from Colorado, or to perform at Carnegie Hall at this age. It's a really big deal."

Besides the concert, where she will be performing with several other Golden Voices winners, Stephanie said she and her family -- mother Linda, father Ken and younger sister Jessica -- have big plans for their stay in New York.

"We have so many plans," she said.

The trip will, of course, include attending a couple of performances at the Metropolitan Opera, and at least one Broadway musical (Stephanie's younger sister Jessica is an aspiring Broadway singer), as well as the usual tourist haunts like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.

But at least one of their planned destinations will have a dual purpose.

"We'll be visiting Julliard (School of Music)," said Stephanie, who hopes to attend the prestigious music conservatory when she graduates from high school in Colorado.

The aspiring opera singer hopes to make music her full-time career.

"My teacher (Emerich) thinks it's within my reach, so I'm going to go for it," she said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454