Introducing Dante Middle School features 12-year-old tenor’s performance

Union City may have the next Marc Anthony or Andrea Bocelli in its midst.

At age 12, Dante Carrasco hones his vocal skills in many musical genres, from salsa to classical Italian arias, and he performed solo at the Jose Marti Middle School for the first time on Oct. 28.

“We always had it in mind to do a recital,” said Carrasco, who, along with his vocal coach, was awaiting the appropriate time and venue for his debut.

During a visit from Carrasco’s grandparents from Chile last month, the young warbler new it was time to set things in motion.

“The day before they left, we wanted to do something special,” said Carrasco. “They had never seen me perform before, and they loved it. They started crying on the first song.”

For his first selection that evening, Carrasco sang Pieta Signore by Alessandro Stradella, which has become one of his signature performances of Italian arias.

The entire program featured 10 songs, including salsa, boleros, classical pieces, and mainstream hits by Josh Groben.

“We picked songs that I liked [and had performed before], as well as new songs I wanted to try,” said Carrasco. “One of the songs was Marc Anthony’s Valio la Pena, and I had never sung salsa before but it was really fun to learn.”

Formal training

Carrasco’s vocal coach over the last three years has been Perla Espinal, who is also a teacher at Jose Marti Middle School, where her prized pupil made his solo debut as a tenor.

“He was so poised onstage, and I don’t believe he made a mistake,” said Espinal. “Basically I work on training his voice and strengthening his range through vocal exercises. I have found it exciting to cultivate his voice. I believe he has a beautiful gift, and it’s an honor to work with him.”

Although this is the first time Carrasco has received formal training, it was not his first time on the stage.

Performing since the age of 2, he has become one of Union City’s more recognizable local talents, having performed at various city events and the annual Multi-Arts Festival.

“I got into singing when I was 2, and I have been a music fanatic because of my father used to compete,” said Carrasco.

Carrasco first appeared onstage with his father, who was a big aficionado of Frank Sinatra, and he instilled a love of music in his son.

“There is no one in my family who doesn’t like music; let’s just say its in the blood,” said Carrasco.

Although Carrasco has been recognized for his renditions of tunes Old Blue Eyes sung, he has set Sinatra aside for other genres.

“His voice has matured and he has stretched to new styles,” said Espinal.

“I don’t do a lot of Sinatra anymore because I have sung too many of his songs, and I want to keep raising the bar,” said Carrasco.

Lately Carrasco has been focusing on classical works like Italian arias and those of more contemporary artists like Andrea Bocelli.

“I was already a fan of classical music and Perla suggested I try Italian arias, and my voice was good for it,” said Carrasco.

For the upcoming Christmas season, Espinal has been working with Carrasco on some classic holiday favorites and on organizing some more upcoming performances.

“I’ve sung for the Cuban flag raising this past May 20 at City Hall, as well as for their events on the Fourth of July and during Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Carrasco.

Carrasco has also been a crowd favorite at his school, St. Francis Academy, performing in their annual talent shows.


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