Aurora youth makes top 10 in singing competition

2020 Shining Star CLE finals will be virtual due to pandemic

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Kate Liang

AURORA – An Aurora High School student was one of 10 students selected to show off her vocal talent in an area voice competition.

Because of the pandemic, those wishing to see sophomore Kate Liang and the other students compete Sept. 13 will watch the event online.

Kate, 15, said she studies voice at the Aurora School of Music, and her teacher encouraged her to apply. She also heard about the competition from someone who had participated in a previous year. For the final, she will perform “Dream.”

“As of right now, it still hasn't sunk in, but it's pretty cool,” Kate said. “I am excited to work with the people I saw in the last round who have moved on because they're pretty cool, too.”

Kate said that the competition organizers have given the finalists the tracks for the background music for their songs.

“We are also meeting with the other finalists over Zoom for rehearsals,” she said.

Kate said she also has a brother who “is very gifted in music.”

“He plays piano and flute, both of which he has quite the knack for,” she said. “We didn't get these skills from our parents, who are both tone-deaf  — no offense to them.”

In addition to singing, Kate said she recently started to teach herself to play the ukulele. She also has played piano “since I was small.”

“Music takes up most of my brain, but, in the small gaps, I enjoy playing video games, watching action or horror movies, reading Stephen King novels, and sitting with my two pups,” Kate said. “Also, during the school year, I participate on a robotics team.”

Kate said that while “it would be exciting to pursue music” as a career, she wants to consider other options as well.

“Being practical, I may look at other areas I enjoy, like biology, engineering, or mathematics,” she said.

This is the fourth year for the solo singing competition, which is sponsored by the Menorah Park Foundation. There is no cost to enter, and any genre of music is accepted. Students going into ninth through 12th grade from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties are eligible to audition.

The first round of auditions started in Akron, with the second round of auditions taking place the week of July 12. The virtual semifinals were July 26.

Finalists will be judged by a panel of independent music professionals. The finals judges will select the top four students following the initial prerecorded performances. The top four will perform a second time. The audience, in conjunction with the judges, will select the order of the winners from the final four.

The first-place winner will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and an opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall. The second place winner will receive a $5,000 college scholarship, third place will get a $2,500 college scholarship and fourth a $1,000 college scholarship. In addition, the first place winner’s home high school’s music department will be given $2,500.

The broadcast of the competition will be available at, said Renee Greller, the director of special events for the Menorah Park Foundation.

“As it is a fundraiser, we do ask for donations, but it is free to watch,” Greller said.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at