By Jane Kingsu-Cheng
They say that whatever an expectant mother absorbs, specifically emotions brought about by external factors, the baby inside the womb is bound to share the same feelings as well. Such is the case for Mai Kaufman and her firstborn Alexa Isobel Kaufman.
“She was exposed to music even before she was born. When I was pregnant, I constantly listened to jazz and classical music as I found that this relaxed me. I believe that, somehow, she had absorbed the music, which I immersed myself in. This then evolved naturally, until she developed her own preferences, experimenting with different styles, when she realized that she, indeed, could sing with ease,” Mai recounts.
Alexa chimes in, crediting her love for singing to her parents,“My mom, of course, who is also very musical. She plays the piano. She has a beautiful singing voice. And then there’s my dad who loves to sing in an operatic way. His favorite composer is Wagner, which suits his deep, baritone voice.”
Mai remembers Alexa singing at the age of four. “It was something she did on her own. It’s like being in a continuous opera wherever we go. In fact, her grandparents in England would literally cry when she would fly back to Manila, because the house would so quiet and there would be no more singing. Her father is often unable to read a book because of her non-stop singing.”
The youngest soprano of the Philippine Opera Company, she loves singing classics such as “Ave Maria,” “Panis Angelicus,” “Pie Jesu,” “Caro Mio Ben,” and “Sa Kabukiran” are some of her many favorites.
One of the most delightful moments that transpired was when Alexa met her mom’s Italian friend, Laura Troisi. She sang the only song she knew in Italian, “Nelia Fantasia,” to Laura who was so moved that she insisted for the little girl to come back to study singing. “I didn’t know that her father was the founder of the Verona Oscar Della Lirica International Opera Awards,” says the surprised Alexa.
Alexa always gains fans everywhere she sings. No matter how small the audience is, she’s ready to share her angelic voice at parties, in church, and for outreach missions. These intimate functions serves as her venue to touch people’s lives, a lot are moved by her beautiful voice, resulting to social media postings that became viral. These prompted shows such as Magandang Buhay and Ayos Ka Kid segment under TV Patrol to feature her. The latest news that got the friends and family excited is that she will also be singing with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of the year, on Dec. 20, on a Christmas concert, a definite treat for this soprano singer.
Seeing Alexa’s potential and the interest that Alexa has for singing, her parents found ways to expose her to the masters. It was only late last year that she met the greats, including coloratura soprano and librettist Fides Cuyugan Asensio, a professor emeritus in voice under the music theater and dance Department of the University of the Philippines. Alexa also had the chance to practice with Tenor Francisco Aseniero and Ryan Cayabyab. Currently, she is attending masterclasses with teachers from the Philippine Opera Company.
Given all these wonderful opportunities Alexa has been given, it begs the question, how come there are no awards mentioned? Her mom explains, “Getting invited by The Voice UK and being validated by the masters in Music are enough confirmation that Alexa has a special talent, which is to be nurtured and shared. We’ve always instilled in our daughters that they don’t have to prove themselves or their worth to anybody. What God thinks of them is enough. The purpose of her singing is simple: to share her talent, making as many people as possible happy and to glorify God.”
There’s something about classical music that can soothe the soul. Her mom feels that listening to this genre provides a pleasant atmosphere.
“It is my way of praying and relaxing, so that even when singing in public, I find, as I work toward a high note, that instead of getting nervous, I feel relaxed, calm, and happy. So when those who listen to me smile, this is a gift to me,” Alexa smiles with contentment in her eyes.