Kim Adam, a sophomore student at Villa Maria, won the Grand Prize in this year’s Music Fest Rising Talents competition. She placed second in the Music of America Singing Competition in the 2021 Great Songwriter Contest Series and was recently chosen as this year’s winner of the Tri-County Youth Festival for Voice – Senior Division. Adam won first prize in the Warminster Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, which was an in-person audition before a panel of distinguished musicians, including the conductor. She finished second in the 2021 American Classical Young Musician Award, competing against musicians from nearly 40 countries – the award recognizes young performers with a strong artistic personality and a strong stage presence. She has been studying at the Juilliard School in New York on weekends since 2019 and hopes to continue her musical studies in New York or Philadelphia, hopefully fulfilling her aspirations to become an opera singer.
Main Line Media News: Tell us a bit about this experience at the Warminster Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition and the music you performed.
Kim Adam: After living through your forties and taking courses and auditions online or virtually, auditioning in person for the Warminster Symphony Orchestra was both a welcome change and a challenge. There was a high level of excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with performing live in person. During in-person auditions, you only get one chance to impress the judges, unlike virtual auditions where you can do as many takes as you want and submit your best recordings. Seeing the faces of the audience and how they react to your performance is what really motivates me as a performer. For me, it wasn’t so much about competition as it was about the joy of being able to play in front of an audience again. I sang Vilja-Lied by Franz Lehar which is an aria from the operetta “Die Lustige Witwe” or “The Merry Widow” for my audition at Warminster and was allowed to remove my face mask and as soon as I did one of the judges told me I had a beautiful smile and it boosted my confidence and inspired me to give the best of myself. The real benefit of participating in the Warminster competition is that the winner has the opportunity to perform with the orchestra live at their awards concert in December of this year and I’m delighted that it’s me on this stage with a live orchestra. For an aspiring classical singer like me, it can’t get better than this.
Main Line Media News: What first sparked your interest in lyric singing?
Kim Adam: I haven’t always been a social person – on the contrary, I was shy when I was little. But there’s still that little voice inside of me that pushes me to go ahead and take a chance. It took a long time to get over the jitters and feelings of not being good enough. My mother has always been my biggest supporter, she’s the one who believed in me when I’m usually full of doubts. She was the one who convinced me that I could sing and took me to class. I think my love for opera started when I was a baby – my late dad used to put opera music in the car and apparently I liked it because it kept me happy and quiet during long walks in the grueling traffic of the Metro Manila in the Philippines. I love the way classical music (opera in particular) sounds compared to contemporary music. I love everything about the opera, the stories, the costumes, the characters and the best of all music. I would imagine myself as Violetta Valery, as CioCio San, as Mimi and as Susanna, and honestly, I can’t see myself doing anything other than acting. I love to play and I love the applause, but I believe the gratification it brings comes from knowing that I’ve entertained my audience and been able to make them feel something.
Main Line Media News: In your studio arts class at Villa Maria, you were allowed to paint anything for your final project, so you painted a person’s portrait, because you love to draw anatomy and the people. What do you think is the most interesting challenge in drawing / painting a person?
Kim Adam: I painted a portrait of a young girl holding a book partially hidden under her dress. I was trying to channel my inner Rembrandt and I was trying to imbue my painting with a chiaroscuro effect. I wanted to incorporate textures and pleats into the fabric of her dress. I like the portrait because I believe that the human face and face can tell stories. As a singer I am a storyteller and even as a painter I prefer subjects that allow me to tell stories. I find the faces the most interesting, but the ears and the hands are the most difficult anatomical parts to draw and paint.
Main Line Media News: You recently moved to the United States from the Philippines. What do you think is the most interesting aspect of the United States?
Kim Adam: I found it quite intriguing and interesting that I didn’t have a lot of adjustments to make when moving to the United States. I would like to thank my family for this, especially my dad Greg (my step dad) who is always very supportive and protective of our family. He’s an American lawyer and really one of my cheerleaders. I have found the people here in the United States to be very tolerant, outspoken, and honest. I find it strange, however, that many people prefer to be called by their first name. In the Philippines, family is the central structure of society and even friends can be seen as such an extension of the family that it is considered appropriate and respectful to call the elderly Tita or aunt, or uncle. Other people are mainly called Madame and Monsieur. But I like that most of the Americans I have met here are as believing and religious as the people in the Philippines.
(To be selected as the main student of the week, a student must first be nominated by their school.)