Rissa Arias
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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Rissa has always been inspired by and drawn to music. Ever since she was a little girl you could catch her humming some tune or making facial expressions depending on the mood of a song. Anyone who comes to know her soon realizes singing seeps from within her soul.

As the middle daughter of missionary parents, Rissa learned and nurtured her talent by example, her mother’s. Although her mother had no professional training, her natural talent and passion for transmitting message through music left a lasting imprint upon her impressionable daughter.

Rissa was born in California but grew up in Mexico due to her parents’ missionary work. While living there, she helped her mother in the music area and along with her older sister recorded a Spanish record 'Lo que es esencial.' During her senior year she moved back to California so she could formally study music. While in high school she had the opportunity to sing in a festival hosted by the then conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Paul Salamunovich. This would be a small introduction for what was to come.

While in college, Rissa studied under the direction of Bruce Rogers. A man so passionate about teaching music to his students, which was exactly what Rissa needed in order to discover more about her approach to music and singing in general. For the next three years, Rissa would be one of the main soloists in her chamber singers choir as well as becoming the recipient of several music scholarships, and participating in three recordings 'Sing a Mighty Song,' 'Past Life Melodies' and 'Exultate.' In 2000, she had the opportunity to tour Europe singing at Ely Cathedral in London, England; at the Franzische Kirche in Berlin, Germany; the Hlahol Saal in Prague, Czech Republic; at the Salzburg International Music Festival and Pilgrim Church Maria Plain in Salzburg, Austria, and at the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod competing in three different categories, winning two first places for 'Chamber Choir' and 'Youth Choir' respectively; a third place was won in 'Folk Song Choir.' Their first place in 'Chamber Choir' led them to compete for the “Choir of the World” title in Llangollen, Wales. It is a sort of Olympics for the arts where carefully selected qualifying performing groups and soloists come from over 50 countries to compete. 

The following year afforded her a performance at the Lila Cockrell Theatre, Municipal Auditorium, and Scottish Rite Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas for the National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in front of several thousand music directors, teachers, etc. In 2002, Rissa went to Honolulu, Hawaii to perform at the Western Region ACDA. That same year culminated with a singing opportunity at the world famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Realizing that she was standing on the same stage as so many great musicians before her, making beautiful music, was both an awesome and humbling experience for her.

Rissa now lives in sunny Florida and is heavily involved with her church group and personal performances.  Last year, she sang the National Anthem for the North Naples Fire Department’s 9/11 Commemorative Service and closed the ceremony with God Bless America which took place at her current church, First Baptist Church of Naples. She also performed in her church’s production of 'I’ll Be Home for Christmas' in 2006, a play that takes place during World War II.

This year, she participated in the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference 2007, which took place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas in front of approximately 9, 000 thousand people.