My name is Kelly Campbell, and I was born in Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. I grew up mostly in Toronto and went to the University of Toronto for music, for voice performance. I started singing and performing really young and started doing professional work when I was fourteen, and I was very fortunate. I sang in operas starting at fourteen, and I did a bunch of tours. I toured over North America with a show that was two actors, and we performed with the symphony orchestra of each city that we toured to. It was amazing. We performed with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, with the Phoenix Symphony, and all over Canada as well. It was perfect because it was usually weekends so it didn’t interrupt my school studies at all.
I came to New York to do theater in October of 2002. I came down to do the summer acting program at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and I just fell in love with the city. When I came to New York I had to choose a path, be it acting or singing, and singing was always my first passion and first love, so that’s what I focused on when I came here. I focused on singing for a while, and then after some time I transitioned into directing. I directed some off-off Broadway shows and was a member of the Workshop Theater Company for a number of years. And then this job came along—I’ve worked with Children’s Aid since about 2004. I was a voice teacher, and then I was an assistant conductor, and then when my boss left I took over his job. This is my fourth year as director of the chorus program and it has been an incredible journey.
I sang in a children’s chorus from the time I was eleven until I was seventeen. My background has all been in performing and directing. I approach my conducting from the singers perspective, so I feel like I know what the girls are thinking when they look at the page. I remember being that young and I remember being in chorus and how much it meant to me; being part of a community and getting to perform together, and how much that gave me in terms of confidence and fun! I met some of my best friends in that group and I remember having such a good time. I find that when I take that approach with the girls, the results that we’re able to get are amazing! I treat them like cast members. I always tell them: “I’m not your teacher. I’m your director.” And that’s a big difference. I’m not here to tell you to sit straight and don’t talk. I’m here to make you into the best artist you can be. I have a really wonderful group of girls and we have a mutual working relationship. I ask them to bring me their best. They tell me all the time, “This is the best part of my week. It’s my favorite thing ever.” And it’s partially for the artistic joy that they get out of it, but so much is for the social aspect and the family that they’ve built here with these other girls. I have a wonderful mix of girls, and it’s just so incredible for them all to be able to be in each other’s lives.
I think the Tempest opportunity is recognition for the girls that what they’re doing is special, and that what they’re doing goes beyond just meeting twice weekly at a community center; that they have voices that people want to a hear on a bigger stage. And they’ve been on big stages before. They’ve been up on the Radio City Stage a number of times through the Garden of Dreams foundation. The girls have been participants in that for the last four years, which has been amazing, as that stage is iconic and huge. But this experience will be different. I think a lot of them—they get it, but they don’t get it yet. That they’re really going to be standing on the stage of the Delacorte, with the audience and with an incredible cast that’s going to be around them. They have to own…OWN this. I know for my graduating seniors it’s the very best possible way to end their chorus experience.