Classic opera singer Qian Meng surprised many people this year by winning the Ponoka Stampede talent show.
Meng was among 11 other acts showcasing their skills with one song Wednesday, June 29 and instead of going the western pop music route, Meng stuck with her classical training and sang a mix of several arias into one. Accompanying her was Cam Hinton, music director at Ponoka Secondary Campus, who played the keyboard as backup.
Despite some initial technical difficulties Meng continued on and not only wowed attendees but also the judges. She won first place and chose the $3,000 guitar courtesy of Gilmore Guitars in Red Deer.
Meng is pleased she decided to play to her strengths of classical singing as it was something the judges said showed her as the clear winner. The biggest challenge now? Meng needs to learn how to play the guitar.
She hopes to get some lessons in on how to play a guitar because she wants to enjoy her prize.
It was her husband who encouraged her to try out for the talent show and after seeing the opera Madame Butterfly in Los Angeles, CA recently, Meng decided this was the year to give the talent show a try. “I didn’t think I was going to win.”
“I was so surprised,” she added.
Organizers did ask if she would consider trying a different song using the house band, but with only a few weeks to practice, she decided against it. “I liked it (the song) but I didn’t think I was qualified to sing the song.”
“I stuck with my opera and I can find my own pianist,” offered Meng.
She said the crowd’s response was strong and encouraging and since winning her friends and students (Meng is a piano teacher and vocal coach) have also congratulated her.
“The judges told me I have an incredible voice and they can’t ignore me,” she added.
They have asked her to continue and invited her to come back for the 2017 Stampede talent show. She hopes to take her love of jazz and learn how to play the genre with her new guitar.
The second place winner earned a recording session with MCC Recording Studio in Calgary courtesy of Dave Temple plus a mentoring session with Bobby Wills.