Lauren Brown, daughter of Mandy and James Brown, has just begun her year 12 studies at Hunter School of The Performing Arts (HSPA).

The local talent currently boards in Newcastle in order to pursue her creative interests, visiting home during holidays and the latest COVID lockdown.

“I always knew I wanted to develop my singing abilities, so even in early high school I had hopes of attending HSPA one day,” Lauren said.

“So, last year, I submitted an application and was lucky enough to be accepted.”

The process is usually conducted live in-person but, due to COVID, students were asked to submit a video of them performing instead.

Lauren recorded a four-minute video of her performing two different musical styles, as per the application process, and was accepted into the 2021 year 11 cohort.

Not only has the move to Newcastle given her a greater opportunity to pursue her creative interests at school, but Lauren has also accessed other resources that have helped her build upon her talent.

“I do singing lessons in Newcastle with a representative of Opera Australia, and she’s been a great help as I undertake assessments and work on strengthening my vocals,” Lauren said.

“And I’ve even had the chance to perform in a real-life musical earlier this year.”

Lauren took centre-stage in the production of Noah’s Flood, blowing away those lucky enough to hear her sing.

“She actually auditioned for a small role, but was offered one of the leading parts once they heard her perform,” mum, Mrs Brown, proudly recounted.

Lauren performed alongside industry professionals such as Robert McDougall in the non-school related musical.

“We only had five or six weeks of rehearsals to put it together,” Lauren said.

“Which was a bit stressful at the time, but we pulled it off.”

But that’s not all, in the same year she auditioned to be part of HSPA’s production of Little Shop Of Horrors.

The performance was to take place at the school’s theatre this term but, due to COVID, it has been moved to February next year.

“One of the other great things about studying at HSPA, is that I get the chance to learn alongside dedicated creatives who share my passion for the arts,” Lauren said.

She’s extremely grateful to be able to live and study in a city that provides ample opportunity to pursue her creative endeavours.

“I’m used to travelling for singing, given these opportunities and classes are often quite rare in regional NSW,” Lauren said.

“Before relocating to Newcastle, it wasn’t uncommon for my family to travel with me all over for music.

“Tamworth is probably the closest town we’ve travelled to in the past.”

“It’s just what you do if you want to develop your abilities further – whether it’s music, sport or anything in between,” Mrs Brown echoed.

In addition to music, Lauren is studying standard English and maths, drama and modern history at the Newcastle school.

“I’m really liking my studies so far,” Lauren said.

“We’ve just started our year 12 classes this term.

“COVID has made it a little difficult, so I just hope things are more normal when I sit my HSC exams this time next year.”

After school, Lauren hopes to take a gap year before pursuing additional studies.

“I want to get a qualification in business, perhaps through TAFE, as a back-up to my music,” she said.

“I’ve helped out with my family business before, handling invoices and bills, so I think something business-related would be a good move for me.”

With NSW surpassing 80 per cent double dose vaccinations this week, the state is opening up and Lauren is heading back to the city this week where she boards with former music teacher and ex-Narrabri resident Julie Fawcett.

Even with the pandemic causing classes to be moved online for a solid portion of the year, Lauren has enjoyed her year 11 experience so far.

It’s given her more of a chance to visit her hometown, family and friends.

“On Saturday, some of my musical friends and I gathered to perform in the main street,” Lauren said.

“Our group, Gone Rogue, includes myself, Jackson Walsh, Chloe Large, Jye Cuell, Rod Ritchie and Eliza Dampney.

“We set up out the front of Watson’s Kitchen.”

Lauren said these performances are a great opportunity for like-minded musicians to get together and master their craft.

“We all have varying levels of experience, and the best way to build our confidence is to do these kind of performances,” she said.

“In fact, Saturday was Chloe’s first time performing in public and it was great to see her come into her own.”

The musical talents also delighted Saturday-morning shoppers, with their toe-tapping tunes.

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