Pari Sontha: Serenading the Sydney Opera House

Junior Pari Sontha sang at the Sydney Opera House this past summer, an opportunity afforded to her through the Honors Performance Series.
“I think [Sydney] was absolutely amazing because that was my first time going somewhere without my parents and living off of what I had financially,” Sontha said.
Junior Pari Sontha sang at the Sydney Opera House this past summer, an opportunity afforded to her through the Honors Performance Series. “I think [Sydney] was absolutely amazing because that was my first time going somewhere without my parents and living off of what I had financially,” Sontha said.
Credit: Courtesy of Pari Sontha

Over the summer, some Wayland High School students traveled far and wide. Junior Pari Sontha traveled to “The Land Down Under” to showcase her impressive singing skills at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Sontha is a member of the Honors Performance Series, a program which grants opportunities for students to sing classically around the world. After being nominated by her chorus teacher, Ms. Carroll, the audition process began.

“I submitted a scale, and I sang one to two minutes of a piece that is strictly classical, since I couldn’t sing a pop song,” Sontha said. “A few of my friends and I auditioned last year for the [Honors Performance Series], and we had the choice of performing at Carnegie Hall or an out-of-country location. I chose Sydney because that’s a new place, and I thought [the experience] would be interesting.”

Sontha took this unique opportunity to get out of her comfort zone. She had the option to travel with her family or explore Australia solo. She decided to travel alone to the “Land Down Under,” believing the experience would ignite a sense of independence.

“I think [Sydney] was absolutely amazing because that was my first time going somewhere without my parents and living off of what I had financially,” Sontha said. “[Students] could pay to have someone’s parents go with them. I didn’t choose that because I thought ‘That’s too expensive, I’m not wasting money on that.’”

Sontha has been singing Indian classical music for the past 11 years now, and got into western classical music during her freshman year at WHS. For three years now, she’s been training in western classical music.

“I got to learn a lot about how to shape my voice into a western classical style instead of Indian classical,” Sontha said. “Honestly I don’t have a preference [between the two]. I like both western and classical.”

Sontha performed in front of a crowd of between 400 and 600 people at the Sydney Opera House. What may seem like a nerve-racking experience for others, came easily to Sontha because of her prior experience in classical singing.

“In 2012, the beginning of my classical singing [career], I was a little nervous [to sing in front of crowds],” Sontha said. “But after that, I became desensitized to larger audiences. I felt amazing, like, ‘Wow, I’m going to spread music to a bunch of people.’”

To Sontha, Australia was an amazing experience to showcase her vocal range and ability to perform western classical music. Beyond the Sydney Opera House, she has performed in local temples and for the school through her participation in Senior Districts, Tri-M Music Honor Society and choral groups. Performing in Sydney was a stepping stone for her career, and it also served as a memorable trip.

“Sydney is beautiful and I’d definitely go there again, whether it’s [for a] visit or to live,” Sontha said. “It is the optimal location.”

After taking part in this incredible opportunity, Sontha decided to reapply and see if she could perform abroad a second time. Sontha got accepted again, and this time, she will be performing at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England. Looking into her future outside of high school, she plans on spreading her music even more into the world.

“This is probably going to be my side career,” Sontha said. “The only reason it’s my side [career] is because I think I can do other things and keep this as my passion and hobby.”

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