For SM North senior, a natural gift in opera, and a unique opportunity with top local instructors

Alice Barnard practicing in the SM North choir room.
Alice Barnard practicing in the SM North choir room.

Some people are just born with incredible gifts. SM North’s Alice Barnard is one of them.

The high school senior is currently among the very select group of young vocalists taking part in the Lyric Opera Honors Artists Program. With help from the SM North Booster Club and a $1,000 grant from the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, Barnard receives advanced vocal and music theory lessons from some of the Kansas City area’s top instructors. On top of that, she practices for at least an hour outside of school each day.

Barnard had been singing since she was a young child, but it wasn’t until she came to SM North and started working with then-new choir director Juli O’Mealey that the prospect of training seriously in opera presented itself. O’Mealey recognized the strength of Barnard’s voice early on, and helped introduce her to more and more challenging styles. When Barnard chose “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera as her selection for a school performance, she was hooked.

“I didn’t think about [opera] when I first came to school,” she said. “That was the piece that kind of opened me up to it.”

Now, Barnard is weighing her options for after graduation, and has already received offers from local vocal programs.

“Sometimes people are just gifted with an instrument that just naturally does everything right without trying,” O’Mealey said of Barnard’s voice. “Just like some people have a natural golf swing. They don’t really think about it. They just do it. That’s kind of how it is. She’s still honing her skills and her technique, but has a solid instrument naturally.”

Here’s a clip of Barnard practicing a piece in Italian: