Knoxville native and Bryan College alumna Caitlin (Hawkins) Thomas ’12 has recently had the incredible opportunity to perform at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 8.
After her graduation from Bryan with a degree in vocal performance, Caitlin discovered the Knoxville Choral Society, auditioned, and was soon accepted and assigned to the soprano section. Rehearsals for the fall concert, featuring patriotic anthems and local composer John Purifoy’s new 40-minute work “Chronicles of Blue and Gray,” began immediately.
“Chronicles” consists of a series of Civil War-era poems, letters, and speeches (such as the Gettysburg Address) – alongside original lyrics – set to music. The song that particularly captured Caitlin was a duet titled “Letter to Sarah.”
“The touching words of Captain Sullivan Ballou from the battlefield to his wife were perfectly set to John’s beautiful music,” she explained. “As soon as it finished, I knew I had to audition for this song. It wasn’t at all about ‘being a soloist.’ I sincerely just wanted the chance to sing this piece.”
She did have that chance, receiving the soprano part in the duet. They performed the song at the November 2012 premier of “Chronicles” at the Tennessee Theater. Almost a full year had passed when composer John Purifoy contacted her to tell her that Distinguished Concerts International – New York was offering her the chance to sing the duet at Carnegie Hall on June 8.
Reflecting on the performance, Caitlin said, “Carnegie Hall was everything I dreamed: beautiful, historic, and thrilling. But when I stood on stage I realized that’s what it was. A stage. A stage where I had the opportunity to sing a piece I loved for a God I loved even more, and that’s what excited me. Yes, Joan Sutherland and I might have put our feet in the same spot but ultimately I was there to do what I did in Rudd or around my house every day. I was there to sing.”
Caitlin and her husband, Kyle Thomas ’12, live in Knoxville, Tenn., where she is a second year graduate voice student at the University of Tennessee.
Written by Chloe Ann Nardone ’13, assistant director of marketing, 423.775.7206;firstname.lastname@example.org.