An artistic surprise from Alaska

Alaska Dispatch News reports: Most Alaskans wouldn’t link the word opera with Unalakleet, a community of 700 located just at the mouth of its namesake river on Norton Sound.

Maybe not, until now. University of Alaska Anchorage vocal performance student and coloratura soprano Kira Eckenweiler grew up inUnalakleet. Dad Gary Eckenweiler moved there to teach school more than two decades ago and married Willa, a local Inupiaq woman. Kira, 21, is the youngest of their two daughters.

Last month, while home working her third summer counting fish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Kira was joined by UAA piano professor Tim Smith for a concert in Unalakleet’s Frank A. Degnan High School gym; he on the piano, she at the mic. Together they performed selections from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

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