Amherst, VA - A classical opera singer who lives in Amherst just got back from an experience of a lifetime. He was selected to sing and study in Germany, where some of the great composers like Bach, Handel and Beethoven got their start.
John East studied vocal performance at Liberty University. He graduated this past December with about 10 fellow classical singers. But he was the only one in our area that went to Germany to hone is craft.
Touring the birthplace of a classical composer may not mean much to the average Joe, but to East, it was a dream.
"It was so humbling and fascinating to see places that they actually were, and to sing in places where they wrote the music and lived. It was a great experience," he said.
It's called the Schumann Lieder fest. For three weeks he studied and sang 10 different art songs, performing in eight concerts.
"It was intimidating to sing German to Germans when I don't speak German," said East.
Part of the trip was to tour some composers' homes and their grave sites.
"Bach is buried right here in the front," said East.
East started singing as a child in the Lynchburg Cantate Choir. But it wasn't until college he decided that classical was in his heart.
"It's so much more meaningful and passionate and it's a really great feeling to just sing it," said East.
Now, East is working odd jobs to pay the bills and is eyeing graduate school in the future. His hope is to one day make his voice his career.
"What would it mean to you to sing professionally?" we asked.
"It would mean that I'm doing what I love to do - and not everybody can say that," said East.
East can also sing in French, Italian, Russian and English. He says he couldn't have come this far without encouragement from his family and teachers.