WITH a fan base of almost 9,000 followers in the music website SoundCloud, this Thomasian artist is just waiting to be discovered by a bigger audience.

But Chiara “Chir” Cataran already had her own moment in the spotlight. The Musical Theatre student has her own plethora of awards, recordings and formal training to set her apart from other aspiring artists.

In the recently concluded 19th World Championships of the Performing Arts in California, Cataran bagged one of 32 silver medals won by the Philippine contingent for her victory in the Senior Solo Voice category. The team brought home 47 gold medals, 49 bronze medals, 13 industry medals, and even won second place in national costume.

“Nakita ko kung hanggang saan na ‘yung dapat na level ng performance for a world-class competition, which made me step up my game,” she said, admitting that she is no stranger to training.

Trained in the performing arts at a very young age, the San Pablo native may have invested a lot on her musical inclination. With a sister who is also a skilled pianist and with years of exposure to music school and teachers, Cataran discovered a passion that led to numerous song covers in Facebook and good times with the piano and the ukulele. Her stay in the Conservatory also paved the way for her training in acting and basic contemporary ballet.

This training has also earned her awards such as first place in the Solo Voice category of the National Music Competitions for Young Artists in 2005 which caught the eye of award-winning composer Soc Villanueva, and eventually led to her introduction in the entertainment industry.

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“You can’t just sit there and wait for opportunities to come,” she said. “You have to find a way, or make one.”

The 23-year-old vocal performer has been producing acoustic albums for Universal Records since 2011 and is on her way to release a new album, “By Popular Demand 12.”

Cataran’s talent is the product of multiple inspirations and years’ worth of training under the tutelage of different teachers. For instance, she opted to try singing Pop and Broadway to cater to a wider audience despite a Classical vocal upbringing.

“I was told that my sound was ‘different’ and that’s because aside from my formal training, I also studied the singing techniques of my favorite singers until I found my own,” she said.

Her teachers included Eugene de los Santos, the assistant dean of the Conservatory, and Mary Patrice Pacis of the same faculty. Michael Lavine, a Broadway vocal coach, also trained Cataran when he visited the country.

An inspiration closer to home came in the image of Thomasian Jason Dy, The Voice Season 2 champion, which she admitted to have admired since the start of his journey.

“I was there when he was still starting out, nung hindi pa siya napapansin masyado,” she said. “But he did everything and he worked real hard to get to where he is now. He made me believe that hard work pays off, and that dreams really do come true.”

Since her introduction to the industry, she has done demo recordings and back-up vocals for singers such as Angeline Quinto, Jed Madela, Toni Gonzaga, Nikki Gil and Christian Bautista.

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She has also worked with composers such as Jonathan Manalo, famous for “Patuloy Ang Pangarap,” “Pinoy Ako,” and “Di Lang Ikaw,” and Jungee Marcelo, famous for “AkoNalang,” “Nasa ‘yo na ang Lahat,” and “Salbabida.”

Outside the spotlight

Cataran did not intend to go to the Conservatory of Music the first time she stepped in the University. She originally intended to pursue a degree in Accountancy but shifted to the Conservatory after realizing her dreams to perform onstage.

“I knew I was on the right track when people started showing their appreciation for my craft,” she added. “I remember someone back then telling me that I am ‘going to make it big someday.’ Those words gave me so much hope, and this is one of the reasons why I am determined to reach my dreams.”

Though while other artists are too focused on ensuring their place in the spotlight, Cataran still has the time to read novels, travel, and be on time to watch her favorite American television series.

“While you’re at it (reaching your dreams), don’t forget to enjoy the journey—it counts!” she said. Maria Corazon A. Inay

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