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Rakowski Wins Southwest Florida Young Artist Competition

By Makenzie Baker '10
Staff Writer

(Fort Myers, FL) This past January, Bishop Verot junior Allison Rakowski competed against twenty-two performers in the 43rd Annual  Southwest Florida Young Artist Competition sponsored by the Southwest Florida Symphony Society.  Rakowksi, the youngest competitor in the voice category walked away the overall winner in the competition. 

Rakowski has quickly proven herself to be one of the top teen singers of classical music in Florida racking up ten wins in major singing competitions.  At the latest competition Allison found herself the youngest competitor among a group of students from prestigious music institutions such as the Boston Conservatory, the Stetson University Program, and a major music school in London.

Gracing the Verot student body with her voice at events throughout the year, Rakowski prides herself in her ability to sing operas not only in English, but in Italian and German as well.  She takes Italian lessons to help better understand the language.  "I just fell in love with classical music," she states simply.

Her training, and the confidence it gives her allows Allison to approach hectic competitions with grace and composure.  "I practice singing for at least an hour and a half every day - four hours on competition days.  It takes a lot of dedication, but it's all worth it in the end," she said.  "People say that I have the 'it' factor, and that's what keeps me going.

"It is that poise and confidence with which I hold myself on stage that sets me apart from the other competitors."

With all of this success, it's not hard to tell that Allison has a tremendous support system.  "My parents support me in everything I do.  I wouldn't be where I am now without their support," she acknowledged.  "My music teacher also keeps me focused and teaches me things that I never knew I was capable of doing."

"Before performances all the contestants enter one room and everyone is trying to warm up at the same time.  They start singing their songs so loud as if to try to psyche you out or something.  I just try to stay focused because I know I've worked so hard for this," she reflects.

Competing in front of hundreds of people may seem extremely intimidating to some, but Allison is so accustomed to performing on-stage that it has become her second home.  "Surprisingly, I don't get nervous.  I don't think I ever got nervous, even when I was younger," she said.  "I started singing in third grade, so I think I was too young to know what nervousness even was."

Throughout her nine-year singing career, Allison has earned multiple scholarships.  These include the Caloosa Musical Scholarship (won twice within two years) and the Southwest Florida Music Teachers Associations Scholarship (also won twice within a two-year period). 

Although she hasn't made any definite plans for the future, she hopes to attend Boston Conservatory or study at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.  "My ultimate dream would be to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York," she admitted.

Rakowski is certainly on the right track to achieve this dream, never doubting and always believing that she will never fall short of her hopes and expectations.