Archmere's students are inspired to distinction in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the studio, on the stage and in the community every day. After graduation, our alumni go on to become successful professionals in their fields, leaders in the community, and living testimonies of their Archmere education. Archmere senior Katherine Christenbury and 1992 graduate Meagan Miller are just two examples of the unique students and alumni of Archmere Academy.
A top student in the 2012 Washington National Opera Institute, Katherine Christenbury '13, placed first in the 2011 National Association of Teachers of Singing competition.
Meagan Miller '92, winner of top classical singing awards, performs globally, most recently at the Washington National Opera.
Katherine Christenbury ‘13
Archmere Senior Katherine (Katie) Christenbury started honing her musical talent at a young age, taking piano lessons and singing as a member of the children’s choir at her parents’ church. “The Choral Director and my parents saw my talent and encouraged me, so at age 12 I began voice lessons,” says the Greenville native.
At Archmere, Katie was immediately interested and impressed by the Mastersingers, the school’s competitive and award-winning choir. She auditioned and was accepted into the group as a soprano her sophomore year and says being a Mastersinger has been one of the highlights of her high school experience. The group has seen a great deal of success during her time at Archmere, last year sweeping all of the high school choir categories at the Disney Invitational in Orlando, FL. “We worked really hard, and it was exciting and overwhelming to get all of the praise that we did,” says Katie.
The Mastersingers Director, Mr. Ifkovtis provided Katie and her fellow singers with opportunities to study and learn and train in classical music, something her voice teacher first introduced to her. The more she trained in the style, the more Katie grew to love it.
This past summer, Katie attended the Washington National Opera Institute at American University in Washington, D.C. Over 100 students from across the country and around the world audition every year to participate in the three-week summer program, and only about 30 are selected to participate. Katie completed the program as one of the top students and chosen to perform on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center. “In those three weeks, I really felt like I found myself. I feel confident now that this is my passion, and it really is what I want to do,” she says.
In addition to her success at WNO, Katie tied for first place in the 2011 National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, having placed second the year before.
On top of Mastersingers practices, performances and competitions, and recitals with her voice instructor, Katie is currently preparing for college auditions. She would like to continue to study vocal performance in college, and hopes to continue to pursue her passion for opera. “I love to perform,” says Katie, “and I would love to make that my career.”
Katie says that she feels prepared for college, and that she knows that she has received a good education at Archmere. “I’m ready for college, but I will miss my great friends at Archmere and my family,” she says. Katie’s twin sister, Emily, also attends Archmere Academy.
Meagan Miller ’92
Soprano Meagan Miller’92 has made celebrated debuts on important stages all over the world as the leading lady in the operas of greats such as Mozart, Strauss, Verdi and Wagner. A past Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Meagan is also the 2010 winner of the Robert Launch Memorial Award from the Wagner Society of New York, a first prize winner of the 2010 Gerda Lissner Competition, the 2008 George London Foundation Vienna Prize Winner, and the 2008 winner of the London/Kristen Flagstad Award sponsored by the New York Community Trust. She was recently praised by The New York Times for her recital performance at the Morgan Library & Museums' Gilder Lehrman Hall, in an article titled "Young Soprano Turns Out to be Pro." Meagan’s Metropolitan Opera debut is scheduled for the autumn of 2013.
A 1992 graduate of Archmere, Meagan was involved in the musicals at Archmere, played flute in the Stage Band, and was, of course, a member of the Mastersingers. She went on to study at Washington & Lee University for two years, where she performed in her first opera and first full-length recital, before following her passion to the Juilliard School.
“The experience of singing in the Mastersingers was very unique,” says Meagan. “The repertoire and training that we were exposed to, the opportunity to use our voices classically – a lot of school programs did not have that.” In addition to helping to build her love of classical music, Meagan credits her time at Archmere with developing her confidence with foreign languages. “I took German at Archmere and loved it, and became pretty fluent,” she says. “I continued to study it in college, and now many of my operas are in German and I find myself conducting much of my professional life in German.”
Meagan travels for performances about eight months out of the year, and says that the opportunity to meet new people, see new places and learn about their histories and cultures along the way is an invaluable part of her life and career. The current season will take Meagan to Melbourne, Monte Carlo, Tokyo, and Hamburg.
Meagan made her European operatic debut in June 2009 at the Vienna Volksoper as Ariadne in a new production of Ariadne auf Naxos, a successful role debut that led to a series of engagements in her new fach, or vocal specialization. She has performed at the Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Oper Leipzig, Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, the Bard Festival, and the Hamburg State Opera.
In North America, her operatic performances have been applauded at the Minnesota Opera, L’Opéra de Montréal, Orlando Opera, Syracuse Opera, New York City Opera, Kentucky Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Minnesota Orchestra, among others.
As an accomplished recitalist and noted interpreter of new music, Meagan has also given recitals at such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie’s Weill Hall and Zankel Hall, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Juilliard Theater, Steinway Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Brown University, Princeton University, the Morgan Library, the Walter Reade Theater, Salzburg’s Schloss Leopoldskron, the New York Wagner Society, New York's Bohemian National Hall, and the Chrysler Museum. She has also premiered much music written specifically for her voice.
When she has the opportunity to perform in the United States, Meagan visits with family and friends, and often reconnects with classmates from Archmere. Recently, Meagan performed in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Washington National Opera in D.C. and several Archmereans were in the audience.
“Arts and promoting success in the arts were so much a part of the culture at Archmere that it was accepted to be creative and to thrive in those areas. This builds a special confidence that extends to all facets of life,” says Meagan, who is passionate about keeping art and music instruction in the curriculum of all schools. “Right now is a very important time for the arts funding, and Archmere has a wonderful program that I hope our alumni, parents and friends will continue to support generously.”
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