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Howard County teen stretching his voice at BSO's 'Star-Spangled' party at Oregon Ridge

After rehearing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday morning, Sola Fadiran spent the afternoon rehearsing for "Shrek the Musical," a Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts' Teen Professional Theatre production in which he's starring at the end of this month.

Last week, the 16-year-old winner of BSO's annual "O, Say Can You Sing" contest has been preparing to sing the national anthem at Oregon Ridge, in Cockeysville, on July 3 to open its annual Star-Spangled Spectacular.

"It's supposed to stop raining when the show starts," Fadiran said between rehearsals. "It's rain or shine."

This is the sixth year the BSO has held the contest for youth ages 8 to 18, according to Laura Farmer, BSO public relations manager. Fadiran was selected from about 20 contestants to perform, along with Erin Paxton of Severna Park, who is scheduled to perform July 4.

"The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is always interested in engaging our community," Farmer said of the contest. "We always open Oregon Ridge concerts with the national anthem and have a singer join us. It is even better to give talented youngsters in our community the stage."

A panel of four judges selected Fadiran based on the strength of his voice, its sound and his stage presence.

"While they [the singers] will have amplification, you have to be heard over the orchestra," Farmer said. "Sola has a gorgeous tone."

Preparing to sing outdoors at Oregon Ridge proved challenging, said the rising senior at Glenelg High.

"Sound travels really weirdly outside," Fadiran said. "It goes up."

Along with rehearsals, the bass baritone gets ready for such performances by drinking lots of water — and trying not to shout. He hopes to continue singing as a career.

"After 'Shrek,' I will prepare for college auditions and continue seeking things like this and new opportunities," Fadiran said.

Fadiran was excited to learn Paxton was also a winner in the BSO contest. The two have performed together in the past as members of the Young Columbians acting troupe, and are both in "Shrek."

"We know each other pretty well," Fadiran said. "She's amazing."

The experience of preparing for one of the BSO's most popular shows has been fantastic, Fadiran said.

"It's exciting. It's really awesome," Fadiran said. "What an amazing opportunity to sing with the BSO."

The Star-Spangled Spectacular at Oregon Ridge draws tens of thousands of people for an evening of music and fireworks in the wooded enclaves of the Cockeysville park. Patrons arrive early with lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners or purchase food from vendors on site.

For the July 3 concert, gates open at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children (in advance) and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410-783-8000 or If purchased at the gate, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Free parking is available at the Verizon lot on Shawan Road, with shuttles to the park. Permits for on-site parking can be purchased for $12 in advance from the BSO Ticket Office or for $15 at the gate.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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