It’s onwards and upwards for award-winning teenage soprano, Aimee Banks.
Moycullen’s young operatic starlet represented Ireland in the 2015 Junior Eurovision in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since then, demand has not stopped for Aimee, who has performed internationally on some of the world’s most prestigious stages including the legendary Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, New York.
Aimee was invited to sing at the world-renowned concert hall after winning a first place and Judges’ Distinction Award at the American Protégé International Vocal Competition 2015.
Aimee’s skill and control demonstrated in her execution of operatic arias won her the accolade ‘Performance of the Night’. Her enchantingly delicate, yet powerful and hauntingly beautiful singing voice transfixes and mesmerizes audience members.
The ability to enrapture an audience and evoke emotion is what drew her to the classical genre. “Classical music has the ability to express emotion that you just don’t get with other genres,” she says.
Aimee’s mother, Alyson says that the whole family travelled to New York to watch Aimee perform at Carnegie Hall. They were joined by friends of Aimee’s late grandmother Nuala – who was an alto choir singer and member of Ancór music ensemble. Nuala had a huge influence on her granddaughters’ musical pursuits.
Upon returning to Ireland, Aimee was asked to perform at a Christmas Function in the Meyrick Hotel. Little did she know how serendipitous and opportune this intimate performance would prove to be!
The social event was arranged by Skål Galway – a local chapter of the international organisation for travel professionals. In attendance, at the event, was Stephanie Abrams, an American broadcaster and author. Her “Travel with Stephanie Abrams” radio show airs weekly in the US to six million radio listeners.
Impressed by the thirteen year old Galway soprano, Abrams described her performance as “magnificently wonderful” even admitting that it had “brought tears to my eyes”.
Abrams advised that Alyson bring Aimee to Boston to perform in front of audiences there. “I thought nothing of it at the time,” says Alyson. However, subsequently Aimee was invited to play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Abrams featured Aimee on her travel show, recorded in the Glenlo Abbey Hotel, where she described Aimee as a “future amazing singing star”, and applauded the Galway teenager for her undisputed talent and impressive accomplishments.
Aimee sang out the show with an acapella rendition of Puccini’s exquisite aria ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ made famous by Aimee’s idol, Maria Callas.
Following the success of 2015, Alyson admits they “didn’t think things could get any better”, and prepared themselves for a quieter time of reflection in 2016. However, opportunity came a knocking once more and Aimee, according to her mother “thrives on it”.
Recalling the night of the Eurovision, Alyson says: “The curtains parted slightly and you could see out, there were thousands of people in the crowd – all the way up to the eaves. I was nearly passing out at this stage, and I thought: ‘how is she going to do this’, but Aimee saw this and said, ‘Oh wow, I can’t wait to get on that stage!’”
Where others would be overcome with fear and nerves, Aimee takes it all in her stride. This ability to compartmentalize emotions and behaviour is what makes her a true performer. “You can physically see her ‘switch on’ performance mode, her eyes close for a split second before performance and when they open – it’s Showtime,” says Alyson.
For Aimee, 2016 kicked off with a performance at the Government launch of the 1916 Centenary Commemorations at the National Convention Centre in Dublin. Over 2,000 guests attended the New Years Day event including President Michael D. Higgins, and his wife, Sabina; Dublin Lord Mayor, Críona Ní Dhálaigh; TDs; senators; councillors and a whole host of other community factions.
Aimee performed a solo piece at the event; giving a classical interpretation of ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. She was accompanied by Cross Border Orchestra, the internationally-acclaimed and award-winning youth orchestra of Ireland.
A month later, and the day before her 14th Birthday, Aimee performed with classical giants The Three Tenors, at Town Hall Theatre in Galway. They are due to share the stage once more at The National Concert Hall, on Thursday, April 14 (tickets still available).
And while her classmates at Coláiste na Coiribe enjoy the downtime that comes with the Easter Holiday break, for Aimee it’s all go. She, together with mum, Alyson, and music instructor Michel Durham, will fly out to Boston on th April 6 with performances scheduled on the 7th in Boston Hall, the Norman Rockwell Museum on the 8th, and the Whitney Arts Centre on the 9th.
While there, Aimee will meet with the Director of Boston Symphony and award-winning soprano, Maureen O’Flynn who has performed with the world’s major opera companies and symphonies, including; the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, The Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper), Teatro La Fenice, and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.