Angie Nelson Langeliers remembers the seductive thrill of performing as a youngster in Billings.
Two big moments for her were auditioning for Girls Honor Choir with Diane Martin and getting to sing a solo in a Billings Studio Theatre summer camp.
“Singing was a way for me to be loud and let it all out there,” said Langeliers, a 1998 West High graduate.
Now she’s back in Billings and ready to take the reins of the Rimrock Opera Chorus for Kids, replacing founding director Amy Logan, who left some rather large shoes to fill.
Like Langeliers’ own experiences of finding her voice and honing her talent starting in grade school, ROCK embraces youthful enthusiasm and prepares youngsters as young as 6 for performing on stage.
Not all of the nearly 150 students involved in ROCK last year will go on to become vocal performance majors and sing in professional adult operas like Langeliers has done, but her hope is that they gain an appreciation for music, learn how to read music and have fun.
“I’m pretty high energy and a fun teacher,” she said. “Once I get to know the kids, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the kids excited.”
When she taught at an academy in Colorado, Langeliers organized a rock band because students were interested in rock. She said the fun part of her tenure there was that she taught students at every level from elementary through high school. ROCK offers that same opportunity. Students between age 6 and 18 are eligible to join the group. Auditions are Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Rimrock Opera Company’s rehearsal space at 1780 Shiloh Road. To try out, contact Langeliers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cindy Butler, a longtime supporter of Rimrock Opera Company, said the organization was lucky to find someone like Langeliers, who performed in the 2003 ROC production of “The Magic Flute” before moving on.
“Angie loves teaching music, is incredibly talented and enthusiastic and we look forward to working with her,” Butler said.
Logan, a Skyview music teacher, started ROCK in 2004 after organizing a group of students to sing in a production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Doug Nagel, artistic director of ROC, was so impressed with the quality of the students’ performance, he and Logan opted to make the chorus permanent.
Over the years, the group has handled some big performances, including guest appearances with Mannheim Steamroller, the Billings Symphony and singer Rita Coolidge. And anyone who has seen “Nutcracker” performed in Billings has heard the group’s bright chorus during the snow scene.
Plans are to begin working with Nagel in the next few years on a children’s opera written by a woman who was living in a concentration camp. It’s a rare opportunity for Billings-area youths.
It takes courage for Nagel and Langeliers to put kids on stage to sing with professional vocalists during an adult opera, but to take on their own professionally staged youth opera raises courage to a new level.
“The goal is really just to get them excited about singing, not just popular songs but showing them the other aspects of performance,” Langeliers said. “It will be great.”