With five gold medals and eight gold certificates (five in singing and three in piano) under her belt from the 2016 Cariboo Festival and an invitation to the upcoming provincial festival, Natasha Castro is one step closer to realizing her dreams.
“I want to be a singer when I get older,” says the shy 11 year old.
After months of hard work practising almost daily Natasha won every category she entered at last month’s Cariboo Festival: Junior A Musical Theatre, Junior B Minstrel, Junior A Contemporary Pop, Junior A Art Song post 1930 and Junior A Art Song pre 1800 in voice and three more in piano.
Vocal coach Angela Sommer has been teaching Natasha for the past four years and said she was impressed with her student’s results.
“She’s a pretty amazing young lady with a beautiful voice,” Sommer said. “She’s a real performer — you put her on stage and she shines. I think she’s also coming to realize what talent she has.”
Her parents, Tony Castro and Iryna Khyeralova, couldn’t be prouder of their daughter’s achievements.
“It takes dedication every day. She’s on the go steady,” said Tony. “We’re very proud of her.”
Her mother Iryna, who is originally from the Ukraine, said she recalls watching her daughter sing and dance in front of a mirror using her teddy bears as an audience when she was just four years old.
“I will never forget that,” she said.
Herself an accountant, Iryna said her daughter likely gets her love and talent for music from her grandfather who is a famous Russian singer.
Natasha has already travelled to the Ukraine four times to visit her grandfather and extended family and even hopes to perform with him when she is older.
“I think she gets her music talents from him,” said Tony.
The 2016 Cariboo Festival was the seventh year Natasha took part in the annual event, which showcases the musical talent of area youth and adults and provides an opportunity for competitors to be adjudicated by top professionals in the various disciplines.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said of the Cariboo Festival, which she even takes time off school with her mom to attend to watch other performers during the day.
“Every year, that’s our thing,” said her mom.
Natasha is busy these days practising hard for her music exams and is also looking forward to being a part of the 2016 Provincial Festival of Performing Arts BC in Fort St. John, May 31 to June 4, in which she was chosen to attend as an observer. She will also have an opportunity to perform.
“It’s a big deal and pretty serious,” Sommer said of the provincial festival. “The level of performance is way up there. I am very proud of her.”
In all, an impressive six competitors from the Cariboo Festival have been invited to attend the provincials this year.
“That’s amazing for our little town,” Sommer said.