Working hard to prepare for a singing exam last year certainly paid off for Jael Wong-Fehringer. The Fernie singer is the winner of the Royal Conservatory 2012 Gold Medal for Grade 9 Voice in British Columbia.
The Royal Conservatory awards gold medals each year to the musician with the highest mark in each grade and discipline. Jael was excited, and more than a little surprised, to learn she was this year’s winner.
“I actually didn’t really believe it at first. I never thought I would get a medal because it’s province-wide,” she said. “When I got the email at first I thought it was spam and deleted it. Then a couple days later I thought maybe it really is from the Royal Conservatory, so that’s when I opened it and realized it was the real thing.”
Born in Hong Kong, Jael grew up in Calgary. After returning to Hong Kong for work, she and her husband moved to Fernie four years ago. Although she has been singing for most of her life, Jael only began taking lessons when she was in University.
Jael practised every day to prepare for the grade nine exam, which consists of six songs in several languages, including French, Latin, and German.
“I don’t speak those other languages, I just learn them for the songs,” explained Jael.
“With singing it’s about developing your technique over time and then of course you have your syllabus and you have to do all the songs that [the Royal Conservatory] requires. It’s mostly about polishing the songs and getting comfortable with them.”
Jael expressed that she couldn’t have done it without the help of her singing teacher, Sophia Hoffman. “She has really taught me a lot and I’ve improved a lot under her guidance. I don’t think I would have done so well if it weren’t for her.”
Jael celebrated her success at a ceremony in Vancouver in the beginning of March where she was presented her medal. Now the singer is back to work and ready to begin preparing for her grade 10 exam.
She remarked, “I like the feeling you have when you’ve practised a song enough that you feel like you’ve polished it to the point where you can actually perform it or sing it in an exam. That’s a good feeling.”