Recently, Krystal Mao, 14, put her high soprano singing voice to good use while collaborating with her singing group to perform “If I Never Knew You” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” Mao is part of the award-winning senior group with the Colorful Universe Children’s Performing Arts Troupe that is based in Santa Clara (5253 Stevens Creek Blvd., cross street: Lawrence Expy.). Mao credited Colorful Universe for giving her opportunities to sing all over the world and spread her love of singing.
“I graduated from [the Shanghai Conservatory of Music] 20 years ago. I was a piano major and a musical accompaniment for opera singing,” said Lin Pan, founder of Colorful Universe. “Colorful Universe was founded in 2013 in Santa Clara. There are a lot of choirs and singing groups, [for example, in churches]. But I didn’t find one that teaches students to sing solos and do group projects. That’s why I wanted to bring in professional musicians and professors to teach students to sing solos.”
One such musical professional who teaches at Colorful Universe is Leah Torres. Torres holds two degrees from San Jose State University–one in Music Education and the other in Vocal Performance. During a morning in late July at Colorful Universe’s summer camp, Torres guided young vocalists through new songs.
“Today we’re learning a variety of different songs,” Torres said. “They’re singing American folk songs, such as ‘This Land is Your Land.’ Every week, we learn a song in a different language–French, German, Italian or Spanish. This week we’re learning an Italian song called ‘Coraggio, ben mio.’ The title means ‘Have courage, my love.’ We want to expose kids to things outside their world. We also work on one musical theatre song a week.”
According to Torres, developing students’ confidence is one of the goals of the program.
“Students get a variety of different skills here,” Torres said. “We are working on obviously developing the voice, but then they also learn different skills like acting and how to express themselves on stage.”
According to Pan, a number of piano students from Colorful Universe have played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Staying closer to home, students here have also performed with the Mission College Symphony under conductor Joseph Ordaz at Mission Santa Clara. On August 12, about 50 Colorful Universe summer camp participants will perform at a vocal and piano recital at Santa Clara University’s Recital Hall from 4 to 8 p.m.
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