The Nguyen siblings each began studying piano at age five, first with their grandmother and then with Ms. Sior. All three have won multiple prizes in the Granquist Music Competition and the Kane County Talent Show. Hieu and Tam have moved on to college, but all three still participate in the Granquist competition, and it's great to see past students moving on and doing well.
Elizabeth began taking voice lessons from Solange in 2004 and became involved with Elgin Opera shortly after that. Completely new to opera, Elizabeth was excited to try something new. She expresses her gratefulness to Elgin Opera when she states, "Elgin Opera was invaluable to me because it gave me my first opera production experience. It is an environment truly unlike any other." Elgin Opera taught Elizabeth the basics of opera performance through showing her how to sing in an opera chorus ensemble, act, remember blocking, and take mental notes given by the director.
Elizabeth graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's of Music Education from Simpson College in Iowa. Keeping her skills sharp, Elizabeth performed in the chorus of Il Campanello, Le Nozze di Figaro, and The Mikado at Simpson and also as Laetitia in The Old Man and the Thief and Despina in Così fan tutte as part of Simpson’s opera workshop. She also sang in Simpson’s Women’s Chorale and Chamber Choir and performed hour-long recitals her junior and senior year.
Currently, Elizabeth is working in her hometown of Elgin as the Executive Director of the Elgin Master Chorale. Hired in 2012 as the Institutional Advancement Manger for the organization, Elizabeth's responsibilities grew until she was asked to assume the position of Executive Director in May 2015. Elizabeth has a passion for the arts in Elgin. "This is truly a unique, wonderful place for the arts to grow and thrive, with the renowned Elgin Symphony, children's theatre and music opportunities, and vocal ensembles like Soiree Lyrique, Heartland Voices, and the Elgin Master Chorale. My love for the arts in Elgin started with my high school participation in Elgin Opera, and has continued to grow through the years."
"The first time I heard Solange sing opera, I knew that I wanted to learn to sing that way."
In search of a voice teacher to help her with musical theatre audition material, Victoria Narayan began taking voice lessons with Solange Sior in middle school. Relishing her experience with Solange, Victoria states, "The first time I heard Solange sing opera, I knew that I wanted to learn to sing that way." Victoria’s lessons with Solange have been integral in developing her musical aspirations.
Solange introduced Victoria to opera through Elgin Opera, which has become her chosen art form and career path. Singing with Elgin Opera taught her how to perform, sing difficult harmonies, and work with a conductor. She has benefited greatly from working with actual professionals in classical music in performances such as Madame Butterfly, L'Elisir d'Amore, and Die Fledermaus. Victoria states, "Not only did I get to observe them at work and get an idea of what I wanted to do, but I also learned how to work and act like a professional myself. I can attribute my success in all of my subsequent performance experiences to having been a member of Elgin Opera."
In addition to Elgin Opera, Victoria was a member of Elgin Children's Chorus for eight years and has been in several musical theatre productions.
While attending The Chicago Academy for the Arts in high school, Victoria continued her studies with Solange. She benefited greatly from these sessions, saying, "I value her opinion in my career and vocal development so much."
Victoria’s success is apparent through her numerous accomplishments. She attended the Washington National Opera's Opera Institute for Young Singers, which is a prestigious summer program for high school and college singers. She was also one of twelve students selected to perform in the final performance at the Kennedy Center. Victoria was a Chicago finalist in the Classical Singer High School Vocal Competition of 2008 and was invited to compete in New York. Further, she was the second place winner in the teen division of Elgin Opera's First Annual Voice Competition.
Victoria was accepted to her first choice college, Oklahoma City University, with a double major in Vocal Performance and Musical Theater. She later studied at Circle in the Square Theater School.
Victoria currently splits her time between New York City and Los Angeles. Victoria was most recently seen on the opera stage in I Pagliacci and The Circus Princess with Amore Opera in NYC. Her Off-Broadway credits include Beyond This Paradise and Peace, Love & Cupcakes. You may be able to catch Victoria on Mysteries at the Museum or in the film Viral.
"Solange is the only reason I’m currently involved with music."
Stacey Bravos began taking voice and piano lessons from Solange Sior for in first grade. Solange coaches her in classical, opera, and pop music. Stacey feels Solange helps her to hit notes in her music much more effectively than she could on her own. According to Stacey, "Solange has useful techniques that you don’t get from other teachers. She has a good way of describing things in an understandable way."
Accustomed to being a solo artist, Solange suggested that Stacey become involved with Elgin Opera to improve her voice. Through singing with the opera over several years, Stacey has noticed a better ability to blend her voice and harmonize. She also loves the atmosphere at the opera and all of the friendly people she gets to work with.
Stacey’s interaction with Solange over the years has led her to desire a successful singing career in the music industry. Stacey states, “Solange is the only reason I’m currently involved with music. I wouldn’t even want to be in the music industry if it wasn’t for her.”
Starting to fulfill her dream, Stacey is already working with a music producer. They have produced four pop songs together that Stacey has written the words and melody to. She is also working on classical songs in hopes of creating an album soon. In addition, Stacey has created a band, in which her ability to play piano and guitar are very useful.
Winning multiple voice competitions and playing the lead role in nearly every musical she has ever auditioned for, Stacey has a great music career ahead of her. She is not shy about the incredible impact Solange has had on her success and her aspirations for the future! Learn more about Stacey at her Facebook page.
Already an accomplished singer at nine years old, Erica Roti began taking voice lessons with Solange Sior when she was only seven years old. Her mother signed her up for group voice lessons once Erica told her she wanted to be a singer when she grew up. Solange identified Erica’s raw talent during the very first lesson. She spoke with Erica’s mother and Erica began private lessons every week. Erica describes Solange as "one of the best teachers ever!" Although Erica is taking a short break from singing right now, she "can’t wait to go back there. I have so much fun there!"
Through Solange’s encouragement, Erica entered into Elgin Opera’s Annual Voice Competition at seven years old. Solange prepared her to sing "Mother Dear," which enabled her to win the "Twinkle Little Star" division.
Erica also took part in The Elixir of Love production with Solange. She loved this experience, which included rehearsals in Italian and the opportunity to act. Erica relished rehearsals and performing so much that she was sad once it ended. "I got used to going there all the time. It was so much fun! Singing is fun and the people are so nice! I was so sad when it was over," Erica said.
With a passion for singing and performing, Erica’s dream is to own her performance hall in order to perform all the time. She would also like to be involved with various shows every few months. Solange helped Erica see what her full potential could be, and now she wants to make singing her career!
Sophia Peterson, 10, sings "La Pastorella Delle Alpi" by Rossini for her spring recital, accompanied by Ms. Sior on piano.
Madison Kleba of St. Charles began music at an early age, with two musical parents and violin instruction beginning at the age of 4. Madison's formal vocal training began at age 10 with Solange Sior. In the summer of 2007, after participating in the Elgin Opera Vocal Competition, and earning a Semifinalist award, Madison began taking weekly lessons with Solange, and has continued her lessons since.
When she was about five years old, Madison began performing on stage with musicals and plays. She has been very involved in the Children's Theatre of Elgin since 2nd grade, and has performed in over 25 shows in the Fox Valley area. In the fall of 2011, she was able to learn more about theatre directing as assistand to director Tish Lyons during the production of The Phantom Of The Opera, performed by Fox Valley Theatre at ECC's Blizzard Theatre, and was also cast as the Sea Witch in CTE's The Little Mermaid.
Through her affiliation with Elgin OPERA, she has performed in l'Elisir d'Amore at the Hemmens Cultural Center and Festival On The Fox, as well as in the Festival of Singers. Madison is honored to have won First Place in the Elgin Opera Vocal Competition (Twinkle Star Division) two years in a row (2010 and 2011).
Katie Prom began formal piano training at the age of six. After relocating to Illinois in middle school, she continued her interest in piano with Solange Sior. She was now learning new piano techniques and given many more opportunities to perform in public. Katie states "My love of music and playing the piano soared to new heights after starting piano lessons with Ms. Sior."
Shortly after beginning piano lessons, Katie was given the opportunity to teach private piano lessons in Ms. Sior's piano studio, which continued through her college years. "Solange taught me all the skills I needed to become a well-rounded piano teacher".
After years of teaching piano, Katie decided to follow her dream of getting a degree in Music Education to become a music teacher. Solange guided her through many college auditions. Receiving scholarship offer sfrom several colleges, she decided to get her Music Education degree at Northern Illinois University, later becoming a music teacher at a local elementary school. "I could never thank Solange enough for giving me the opportunity and skills to teach piano and music. I have carried these skills through college and after college into my career as a music teacher."
Through the encouragement from Solange at an early age, Katie is still teaching private piano lessons, accompanying choirs and instrumentalists in several school districts, and teaching general music to students from kindergarten to fifth grade. She cannot thank Solange enough for believing in her and for giving her the tools to follow her dreams.
At the age of 10, Tatiana Ranallo started classical vocal training with Solange Sior. In 2009 she won first place (Division I) in Elgin OPERA's Vocal Competition. Winning this competition allowed Tatiana the opportunity to sing in the Summer Music Festival with professional singers and members of Elgin OPERA.
Referred by Solange to the Artistic Director of Chicago Chamber Opera, Tatiana was invited to sing with the company in their holiday production of Amahl and the Night Visitors in December 2009. Shortly after this engagement, she was hired to shoot a commercial for Memorex live on Michigan Avenue. After two auditions competing against 500 girls, she first landed a contract performing at the Shedd Aquarium in their Fantasea show. Following the Shedd Aquarium opportunity, Tatiana was casted as the Narrator by Lookingglass Theatre for their production of Hephaestus, A Greek Mythology Circus Tale at the Goodman Theatre.
She has performed with members of Cirque Du Soleil, Blue Man Group and The Flying Wallendas. Tatiana obtained this role after her second audition when she wowed the director and producer with an a capella version of "Pie Jesu." Tatiana would like to thank Solange Sior for her direction as a vocal teacher and also the many members of the Elgin OPERA with whom she has had the chance to perform and share the stage with on many occasions. For more information, you can visit her website at www.tatianaranallo.com or her Facebook page.