Sing your heart out. Have fun. Go after what you love. Aleksander Olszewski, the recipient of 2019 Vasya Georgieva Award for Artistic Excellence, gives three pieces of advice for any aspiring vocalists.
In honor of her late grandmother, Dr. Ina Blevins established the award to recognize a graduating high school senior, who shows outstanding achievement or dedication in pursuing music. The award was given during Academy’s annual Spring Recital. Olszewski was shocked when he heard his name being announced.
“I felt I had a good chance of winning the scholarship,” said Olszewski. “But it was a bit of a surprise to hear my name. I am very happy that I did.”
A member of the class of 2019 at the Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, Olszewski began his music interest during his childhood. Inspired by his grandmother, who was an opera singer from Brazil, Olszewski sang wherever he went.
“I felt a desire to learn how to sing like an opera singer,” said Olszewski. “I love to sing but I felt I could sing like her too because she did. She is an inspiration to me.”
Olszewski began pursuing his singing career in church and started taking voice lessons and joining the school choir since elementary school. In 2012, he began his vocal training with Jennifer Keller at Mason Community Arts Academy and studied the techniques to advance his singing abilities.
“Alek is a wonderful student,” said Ms. Keller, a lyric soprano and teaching artist at the Academy. “And even with the rigorous demands of his studies, he always took the time to take lessons when possible.”
“I enjoy how you can express something and do it so beautifully,” said Olszewski. “The beauty of the voice can affect someone profoundly. I love it when my gift of singing affects someone and makes their day.”
With a hope to bring joy to others through singing, Olszewski took opportunities to perform on many occasions during high school. He was a part of Choirs of America Harmonic Convergence Concert at Carnegie Hall in 2019, a choir member in the “Advance Always: A Celebration of Frank Battisti and Garwood Whaley” concert at the Kennedy Center in 2016, and the singer for his high school’s graduation opening ceremony with the national anthem in 2019.
Beyond music, Olszewski was an active member of the drama club and French club at school. He also has a substantial interest in genealogy of his family and weightlifting.
As a recent high school graduate, Olszewski plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Franciscan University of Steubenville and use the $500 to support his education. He was accepted to the music vocal program but would like to keep an open mind to explore other degrees, such as psychology, French, hospitality, or business management. Olszewski said he will remain active in vocal performance on campus or outside of his college career.