I come from a musical family where both parents have been music educators and performers. My father is a retired percussionist and music minor in college, with a lovely tenor voice whereas my mother is a retired pianist and choral vocal teacher. From what they say, I was matching pitches before I could speak. As a young child, I began singing with my mother and was soon performing for organizations such as The United Way and singing The National Anthem at The Salinas California Rodeo and Laguna Seca Raceway events. I would attend, by choice, my parents rehearsals at the local community theatre and knew all of the lyrics from memory by the time they opened the show. I would often get in trouble for singing at the dinner table instead of eating my dinner. On many occasions, I would ride with my Dad to Fresno, CA, to visit my grandmother and we would sing songs like Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah or scat practically the whole trip there and back. Soon after, I had my first real role (at age 11) as Molly in The Western Stage’s production of Annie. While still singing on a volunteer basis, I would occasionally sing at Saint Joseph’s Church in Spreckels, California for special services. When I was a sophomore in high school, I joined the music staff as a cantor, with my mom on piano and organ and my younger brother on upright bass and vocals. This was my first gig as a paid singer.
In high school, my electives were, of course, choir with my mom as the vocal instructor and a class that focused on performing and visual arts. The San Francisco Opera Outreach came to our school to perform excerpts from La Boheme. After seeing the production (my first opera), I prepared and sang Musetta's aria with the Outreach singers, and was hooked. I never would have imagined that someday I would sing as a professional with the San Francisco Opera!
In my mom’s music class, we learned to sing in different languages which I found fascinating. To be able to sing such beautiful music, in languages other than my first language, seemed intriguing and challenging. I also thought it was pretty amazing that singers could fill a huge theater without the help of a microphone. From that day, I knew I wanted to be an opera singer.
Mom was always finding fun and interesting techniques and music for us. She met Byron McGilvray, a choral director from San Francisco State University, and asked him to visit our class to do a workshop before we went to a Central Coast Section music competition. My mom asked this director to hear me and he suggested I come to SFSU to study with a colleague of his, Kathryn Harvey. I ended up earning my BM from SFSU in vocal performance and studied with Ms. Harvey for over 18 years.
Experience & Qualifications
- 22 years of professional experience
- Bachelor of Music SFSU
- Master of Fine Arts NDNU
- San Francisco Opera & San Francisco Symphony
- Affiliations: AGMA, AFTRA, SAG
- Aimée has sung leading roles, with companies such as; San Francisco, Arizona, Pensacola, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Chautauqua, San Jose, West Bay, Sacramento, and Abilene.
- Aimée is a three time West Coast finalist of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, winner of the IIE International Vocal Competition and the Classical Singer magazine.
The different hats I wear
I love music in different forms. As a vocal teacher, I enjoy inculcating a love of music in my students.
Opera is my passion
I have always enjoyed classical music but never thought of the idea of becoming an opera singer, until I went to high school. When I saw my first opera at San Francisco Opera, I was hooked and knew I was destined to be an opera singer. Live opera is a fantastic three dimensional experience. It is truly magical to project your voice through a 3,000 seat house, from powerful soaring notes to the softest audible decibel. As a performer, touching the audience by storytelling and expressing a range of emotions through music is a phenomenal gift.
Why I love musical theater
I grew up watching musical theater movies such as Oklahoma and West Side Story. In fact, the first live musical theater performances I attended were Guys and Dolls and Man of La Mancha with both my parents as cast members. Musical theatre is a more contemporary method of telling a story in composition and style with spoken dialogue. For the most part, musical theatre is performed in English and often has more spoken dialogue which is different from the recitatives (dialogue that is sung) which occur in Opera. My favorite roles so far have been Maria, in West Side Story and Abuella in In the Heights. Two completely different characters, ages and styles of Musical Theatre and I adore them both. Oh, and ANYTHING written by Sondheim!!
What inspires me to teach
After I graduated with my BM from SFSU, I was looking for ways to supplement my income. I started working as a choir teacher at an elementary school and soon was giving private lessons to many of the school children. I absolutely loved working with young singers and quickly decided that teaching was another musical passion and gift, Although I enjoy working with students of all ages, I realized that the age range I was particularly interested in teaching was the college level, which is when being a professional singer in Opera and Musical Theatre became a goal for me, as it has for many others. From the ages of 17-21, singers are just beginning to really grow into their voices and comprehend the fundamentals of support and technique.
There is nothing more satisfying than helping a student reach their highest potential! Seeing/ hearing a student, at any age, thrive is another of my music passions!
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