Dromore singer is in fine voice for Soloist of the Year competition

Young local singer Holly Mountstephens, a pupil at Dromroe Central Primary School, has been shortlisted for the BBC Northern Ireland School Soloist of the Year Competition 2022.

The 10-year-old, who was nominated by her school, is an avid singer and is also a member of the Belfast School of Performing Arts’ Lisburn class.

“Holly has been singing since probably before she could even talk,” said her mum Angela.

“She was always asking her daddy to play songs in the car so she could sing along or asking me to play on the piano so she could sing along.”

Holly certainly has a passion for singing and performing and has been going to the Patricia Hamilton School of Music in Dromore since she was six.

She has been taking piano and singing lessons there with Patricia herself and her singing teacher Lauren Ward.

Music is definitely in her blood, as Holly’s mum Angela revealed that there is a long history of performing in the family.

“I played piano and sang from a young age, was a member of all of my school ensembles playing jazz piano, flute, percussion and also took part in concert choir and show choir,” revealed Angela, who has also been a private piano teacher since the age of 15.

“Her dad James is a music producer and makes and produces music under his Alias Synyx.

“He also had DJ residencies across the UK and Europe in the 1990s- early 2000s.

“You can probably get a feel for how much music has played a part within our home.

“It also runs down even generations in that her grandad played in the Irish Showband era and her late grandma performed on the stage at the Grand Opera House in Belfast in the 1950s.”

Carrying on the tradition of performing, Holly is an enthusiastic student at the Belfast School of Performing Arts and taking on the lead role in their production of the hit musical ‘Matilda Jr’ has been a highlight for the young star.

“Without a doubt the Irish premier production of Matilda Jr in Summer of 2021 was a favourite show,” continued mum Angela.

“Holly was cast as the lead, Matilda and essentially had three weeks to learn the entire script and all of the solos that went with it.

“Holly has also been in Guys and Dolls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and sang with BSPA Voices at St Anne’s Cathedral with Peter Corry under the direction of Ashley Fulton.”

Just before Halloween, the family were asked by Dromore Central Primary if they could nominate Holly to represent the school in the prestigious competition.

“The week after Half Term that we found out she was one of only a few people across Northern Ireland chosen to represent her Age Category in the next stage of the competition,” continued Angela.

“Holly is the only representative from her school.

“Holly was delighted that she was progressing to the next round, Holly’s general personality is that she takes most things in her stride so I’m not sure she really comprehends the scale of her achievement.

“She’s now taking on additional practice in the build up and is super excited to be visiting the BBC studios.”

Holly will take part in the heats next week (December 6-10) and the finals are due to be held early next year.

As well as singing and performing, Holly also has a sporting streak in her and has found a new love of football . She is currently the goalkeeper for Banbridge Town Girls FC Under 13s and Dromore Amateurs Under 11s.

However, her heart will always lie with singing and, even though she is only 10 years of age, she is already looking forward to a career on the stage or even as a pop arts in the recording studio.

“Holly has aspirations for stage performance and has always talked about Broadway and the West End,” said Angela.

“She also loves pop music and is currently working on her Grade 2 London College of Music in Pop.

“We could indeed have the next Billie Eilish on our hands.”

Mum Angela and Holly would like to thank everyone who has supported her in her musical aspirations.

“There are a few people who have really helped and encouraged over the past few years,” said Angela.

“Tina McVeigh, Peter Corry and all the team at BSPA for seeing the potential in Holly, and Patricia Hamilton and Lauren Ward at Patricia Hamilton School of Music for nourishing Holly’s musical interest from such a young age.”

Tina McVeigh at the Belfast School of Performing Arts offered her congratulations to Holly on making it through to the heats of the BBC comepetition,

“We are so delighted and so proud of Holly, she’s a very talented girl with a real passion for the stage and a beautiful voice,” said Tina. “At the Belfast School of Performing Arts we’ve been lucky to have her take on a number of roles, including the title role in our Irish Premiere of ‘Matilda Jr’ during the summer, which she has always put her heart and soul into delivering.

“We’d all like to wish her the very best for this exciting shortlist and we’ll all be supporting her in the upcoming heats.”