Feb 16, 2010

John East: Student Singing Sensation

by Gaetane Maurice

Love for what you do and determination to succeed are key factors to success. Junior John East has a love for music that is evident to those around him.

Born and raised in Lynchburg, Va., East attended Jefferson Forest High School before coming to Liberty in fall 2007.

According to East, Liberty was not the school he originally planned to attend.

“Being from here, there is a lot of skepticism with Liberty. I went to church with a bunch of Liberty kids … Some of them were a little over the top,” East said.

East, a vocal performance major, was introduced to music at a young age. Despite the lack of a choral program throughout middle school, East began participating in the local community choir, Cantate, in fifth grade and continued for eight years.

During his senior year of high school an member of Cantate, a Liberty student, invited him to see an opera she was in at the Liberty theatre.

“I really enjoyed it,” East said.

After speaking with Music Professor and the Director of the Opera Dr. Wayne Kompelien in April of his senior year of high school, East was excited about the program.

“So I just came here, and it’s been perfect,” East said.

East, a bass, has been in the voice program since his freshman year. He has been in several productions such as Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, The Magic Flute and the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart.

According to Kompelien, who has been East’s voice teacher since his career began at Liberty, East has one of the finest voices he has heard at the undergraduate level.

“John is a bass.  This is somewhat unique. Great basses are much more difficult to find than a great soprano,” Kompelien said.
East enjoys composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Johannes Brahms and Eric Whitacre.
“I love Verdi’s Requiem … The style and the romantic era, it’s just so passionate, so much fun to sing,” East said.

East placed first at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition both years and placed first in the state freshman and sophomore years, as well as third in the region his freshman year and second in the region his sophomore year.

“I have taught many extremely talented students, and John is one of the best,” Kompelien said.

East’s fiancé, freshman nursing major Sarah Harker, admires East’s passion and love for his music.

“Something that I have respected about John is that he has honesty in his love of music,” Harker said.

East and Harker have been dating for four years and will be married in May.

“John is definitely unique. Personally, I think what sets him apart is the fact that he was meant for another era. He is certainly a gentleman, but his interests make him stand out. Not many guys would enjoy the opera, hot tea and pocket watches. He is very turn of the century,” Harker said.

After graduation, East wants to attend graduate school and later go on to sing professionally.

“I would like to professionally sing opera and teaching wouldn’t be bad,” East said.

East’s love and dedication to his music are evident to the people around him. According to Kompelien, East’s appreciation for his talent will take him far.

“Even though he has this great talent he is always striving to improve and to continue to grow as a performer,” Kompelien said. “He has a bright future as a performer.”

Contact Gaetane Maurice at

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