Allison Brook of Bayside loves singing and was extremely surprised and grateful when she was selected among five students to receive the Distinction in Music Award Scholarship from the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHOF).
Brook, 17, recently graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and will attend Northwestern University in the fall to pursue a dual degree in vocal performance and economics.
“It was an interesting grueling and lengthy process writing essays and pushing forward,” Brook said. “Getting the grant money is amazing, and my passion for music will hopefully prevail and will amount to something in life.”
Students in Brooklyn, Nassau, Queens and Suffolk counties are eligible to apply for the scholarships. The program is in addition to other education acknowledgements that LIMHOF sponsors, including the Music Educator of Note and the High School Recognition Awards.
LIMHOF is able to provide these scholarships thanks to support received from the Long Island music community and from Jill’s Dreams, a foundation established in the name of, and in memory of former LIMHOF board member Jill Nees-Russell.
An outdoor reception was held this month where students were able to receive their awards, visit the Mobile Museum and celebrate their achievements.
“Long Island Music Hall of Fame is honored to have the opportunity to support and acknowledge accomplished high school seniors who are pursuing a future in music,” said Tom Needham, LIMHOF education chairman. “There were many amazing candidates and our committee was honored to be able to recognize some additional students. The talent that exists on Long Island is something we at LIMHOF want to celebrate. In addition to following their own dreams, we believe these students will encourage and inspire others.”
For Brook, music breathes life into her. She comes from a family of musicians and began classical singing at the age of 6, she said.
“Music is definitely in the genes; it’s definitely not just me,” Brook said. “My mother used to sing to me at night, and I started singing opera at the age of 14.”
Brook was inspired by her older sister, who is also an opera singer, to continue performing and taking singing seriously.
Her voice was lower than those of some of her friends, and, having competed at competitions, Brook realized that the judges loved a more “pretty elegant nature of female voices.” That was something she couldn’t identify with, she said.
However, Brook’s voice teacher, Jennifer Grimaldi, instilled confidence in the young singer to be proud of her voice and happy while performing in front of an audience.
“I owe her a lot for all of the work she put into me,” Brook said. “She is an amazing teacher, motherly, kind hearted and great at developing one core voice and sound — not only teaching how to project our voice but adding richness and color to it.”
Grimaldi believes Brook to be a “superb and unique talent.”
“She has a full bodied rich and beautiful sound. For a younger singer she is intensely committed, intelligent, artistically responsible singer, with a kindness, integrity and humility that are noteworthy,” Grimaldi said.
While a student at Brooklyn Technical High School, Brook was focused on her academic studies, enjoying subjects such as math and science. At the time, she wasn’t ready to commit to music, but while researching colleges, she decided to choose Northwestern University to study both music and economics.
“I was passionate about academia and although I worked different jobs and internships, the one thing I came back to is singing opera and I realized I wanted to have it in some type of form for the rest of my life,” Brook said.
Looking forward, Brook’s goal is to establish a nonprofit organization helping other people pursuing opera or music in general.
Her advice to others who are passionate about music: Never give up.
“There are so many times I felt emotionally, physically and mentally defeated, and the right way to approach this field is to be positive and to have a strong will and heart,” Brook said. “Even if you love music, you must have confidence in yourself to pursue your dreams.”