Lara Hobi, 12, is one of B.C. contestants competing at the Canada West Performing Arts Festival in Edmonton July 21 and 22. (Lisa Loving photo)

Lara Hobi, 12, is one of B.C. contestants competing at the Canada West Performing Arts Festival in Edmonton July 21 and 22. (Lisa Loving photo)

OUR HOMETOWN: Young Williams Lake singer attending Canada West Performing Arts Festival

Lara Hobi has been singing since she was three-year-old

A talented musical theatre performer will be representing the Cariboo and the province at a festival in Edmonton on Friday, July 21.

Lara Hobi, 12, of the Williams Lake area is one of three B.C. singers in the 13-and-under category chosen to attend the Canada West Performing Arts Festival with participants from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Her success as the 2023 Performing Arts B.C. festival in Penticton May 28 to June 2 was her ticket to attend the festival in Edmonton.

Speaking from Chilliwack where her family was camping to avoid the smoke in the Cariboo so her voice could rest, Lara sounded up for the challenge.

“I’m excited and a little nervous,” she said.

She explained that each performer has 15 minutes to present three pieces and that includes time for any costume changes.

When asked she responded her favourite number of the three she is performing is My Party Dress, which comes from the musical Henry and Mudge.

“I can be a little crazy and act like a kid who is about five or six,” Lara said of why she enjoys doing that number.

The song that gives her the biggest challenge is Quiet, from the musical Matilda, based on the story by Roald Dahl.

“I have to make sure to use my face and eyes to show my emotions,” she said of the biggest challenge.

Finishing off her trio of songs is Electricity from the musical Billy Elliot. Normally she would be some dancing as well, but has cut the piece short to just do the singing so she can fit all her pieces into her 15-minute time limit.

Born in Williams Lake, her dad George Hobi is originally from Switzerland and her mom Mariana Hobi is from Mexico. She has an older sister Eloise and brother Diego who are also both talented musically.

Mariana said Lara first started singing when she was three-years- old, learning from Eloise who was then seven and taking singing lessons from Angela Sommer of Angel Keys Music Studio in Williams Lake.

Sommer has since moved to Vernon, but still has students in Williams Lake who she has continued to work with virtually and in person, coming up to Williams Lake once in a while.

Sommer will be going to the festival with the Hobis and is also excited for Lara and said there will be the top three in each category 13-and-under, 17-and-under and 22-and-under from each province.

Sommer attended last year with Williams Lake singer, dancer Cassius Ford and said the festival was a great experience for all of the participants.

“I think they are winners just to get picked to go,” she said. “Somebody will win, but they are all so good I would not know who to pick.”

“Cassius really enjoyed the camaraderie last year,” Sommer said, noting she had 10 students from Williams Lake, Kamloops and Vernon attend provincials this year and has students from all over, even one from South Africa because she can teach them through Zoom.

Lara has been to the provincial festival three times, although two times she participated virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Describing her voice as clear and sweet, Mariana said Lara has a lot of discipline when it is time to practice.

“My kids are musically talented because their father was a tenor,” she said.

Later this summer Lara and Eloise will be singing in Spanish at a cultural event in Kamloops and singing at the Salmon Festival in Horsefly in September.

Both sisters also got parts in the upcoming musical production of Cinderella, a family musical, being presented by Williams Lake Studio Theatre late November and early December.

“It is an adult production so the younger kids like me got smaller parts,” she said.

Lara also excels at gymnastics and recently graduated from the French Immersion Grade 6 program at Nesika Elementary School.

READ MORE: Three Cariboo youth qualify for Performing Arts BC

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