Caitlyn Askey: Finding her Voice

By Rebecca Fox

Contributing Writer

October 1, 2013

Seven months after Catilyn Askey, ’14, was originally scheduled to perform her senior voice recital, she took the stage on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in the Ford Chapel. After battling laryngitis, pushing through numerous doctor appointments and eventually finding her voice again, Caitlyn, a mezzo-soprano, was able to complete her performance requirement for her four-credit voice class. Caitlyn stood onstage Sunday as not only a recovered singer, but also as a stronger person.

Caitlyn’s senior recital included songs she has been working on since she began working with voice coach, Vicki Jamison, her second semester of her freshmen year. Her repertoire for Sunday’s performance included nine pieces, five sung in different languages. Caitlyn sung three pieces from “Sea Pictures” by Edward Elger, followed by a lullaby from Samuel Barber’s “The Consul.” Caitlyn then performed a French selection from Jean Baptiste Weckerlin’s “Bergerettes.” She concluded the first half of the program with the German piece, “Das Veilchen” by Mozart. Caitlyn was then joined with Breana Gallagher, ’14, to perform the Latin piece, “Recordare,” from the Verdi Requiem. She concluded the program with the English translation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “To the Children” and Cherubino’s aria “Vol che sapete” sung in Italian.

The senior recital is the concluding event and grade for Caitlyn’s 500-level voice class instructed by Jamison. Students have the opportunity to sign up and sing for two hours a week with a member of professional staff of the music department, where the emphasis on the class is on performance.

Caitlyn said her passion for singing stemmed from around third grade and has grown ever since. “I can put my emotions into something; use a talent I was given,” says Caitlyn. She loves the idea of balancing her academics with something she finds fun. Caitlyn admits she chose Allegheny because she “knew (she) could be a big part of the music department without it being a major.”

            Caitlyn has been a part of the Allegheny’s music program since her first semester of freshmen year where she participated in College Choir. Second semester freshmen year, she joined Chamber Choir and started working with her voice coach, Vicki Jamison. It was these voice lessons that inspired Caitlyn to join Chamber Singers, a group performing duets and trios.

“I believe that experience gave her the courage to think of herself as a solo singer,” says Jamison of Caitlyn’s participation in Chamber Singers.

Caitlyn’s music path at Allegheny hit a bump February of her junior year. In the days approaching her initial senior recital, she came down with a laryngitis virus that resulted in her having to postpone her performance. Because Caitlyn was unable to speak due to the intensity of her pain, she visited two ear, nose and throat specialists, a gastroenterologist, and a speech pathologist before she learned she had overworked and enflamed her vocal chords.

“My initial reaction last semester was to always call my dad and cry,” says Caitlyn. “It sound8s really pathetic but it was so difficult to give up something that I loved so much and have absolutely no say in it.”

After two months of drinking water, doctor appointments and refraining from speaking, Caitlyn was cleared to sing again in April. Being approved to sing simply started an even longer process of regaining and strengthening her voice.

“The voice lessons I had for the rest of the semester were really short with minimal work and more discipline than ever before,” she says. “The amount of dedication it took for learning back and working was so much because my voice was damaged.”

Caitlyn’s voice coach, Jamison, was with her every step of her journey. From recommending doctors, scheduling appointments and offering to drive, she provided the support Caitlyn needed to succeed. “Vicki is an incredible coach,” says Caitlyn. “I wouldn’t be the singer that I am today without her.”

Jamison believes that the difficulties Caitlyn encountered while re-building her voice not only helped her musically, but also helped her grow as person.

“Caitlyn sings now with a better tone and range than she did before the laryngitis,” says Jamison. “Over the past three years, I have watched her self-confidence grow significantly.”

Caitlyn realizes how fortunate she is to have this experience and credits Allegheny’s music department for her growth through the years.

“Everything happens for a reason. This recital wouldn’t have been so good without me getting sick,” says Caitlyn. “I was determined not to let a sore throat stand in the way of me doing something I love and doing it well.”