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For 17-year-old Olivia Krupski, singing is a hobby gone out of control.

She sings in her car when she is waiting to pick up her sister.

"I sing along with the radio," she laughs.

She gets together with her family and watches TV shows about singing.

"We always watch 'The Sing-Off' on Mondays," Olivia says. "Glee," too, is a favorite. "It's just so much fun to watch."

Olivia used to follow "American Idol" but fell out of the habit. "Things got too busy," she says.

That's no wonder.

All that singing has paid off, and Olivia has been selected for the 2012 American High School Honors Performance Series Choir. On Feb. 12, she will be performing with the choir at Carnegie Hall.

Meanwhile, the Starpoint High School senior is tasting stardom. One Wednesday afternoon finds her welcoming not only a reporter and photographer from The Buffalo News, but Channel 2's Kevin O'Neill.

Later, O'Neill confesses that her passion for music is catching.

"After editing my story I listened to some songs the she sang seven times in a row," he says. "All weekend I was humming the tunes. One was Mozart, 'The Marriage of Figaro.' Another was Debussy. There I was humming those tunes instead of my usual Foo Fighters!

"My musical tastes are now expanded. I'm somehow more cultured just from knowing her."

>Maria hits the wall

Olivia's family lives in a big, sunny house not far from Tonawanda Creek. At first glance the house looks normal.

Then you see the piano in the living room. And next to the piano, on a music stand, sits a yellowed book of old songs.

The book is open to a quaint number titled, in old-fashioned type: "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me A Bow-Wow." On another page you find "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" -- a song Bruce Springsteen sings, but that goes back to the 1860s.

Yes, a singer lives here.

Lots of singers, in fact. Olivia's mother, Kelly Ann Krupski, is classically trained. She starred as country singer Patsy Cline in the Kavinoky Theatre's 2011 show "Always Patsy Cline."

Olivia's little sister, Holly, also sings. Both of them take lessons from eminent local voice teacher Adrienne Tworek-Gryta.

"They're both the most genuine, sweet kids," Tworek-Gryta says. "They are very pure in their approach to things.

"There's nothing cynical about Olivia at all. She's very genuine and natural. I think that translates into the way she sings."
Olivia doesn't remember a time in her life when she didn't sing.

"Every Christmas my mom and I and my sister, we'd all gather around the piano, and sing Christmas carols in three-part harmony," she says.

As a little girl, she had parts in community productions. At Lockport's Palace Theater, in "The Sound of Music," she played Gretel, the youngest von Trapp child.

In 2010, at her high school, she found herself back in "The Sound of Music," this time starring as Maria.

The week before the show opened, Olivia got sick.

"I had the stomach flu. It was awful! It happened a few days before the performance. It was tech week -- we were doing all the full run-throughs."

She vowed she would be well by opening night. "I called everyone. I'm like, 'I will be there.' "

And she was. But even then, her troubles were not over. Once, her microphone stopped working and, distracted, she forgot to watch where she was going.

"I was running fast -- and I ran into a wall. My nose started bleeding. I was so flustered, I had to run offstage."

But nobody noticed, right?

"People in the front row definitely noticed," she says. "Well, I can look back on it and laugh."

>Voice vs. tuba

At the same time she works on her solo singing, Olivia works on singing with a choir -- which is what got her the Carnegie Hall gig.

Olivia practices her ensemble singing in Starpoint's Concert Choir, led by Roger VanDette. The small group tackles a lot of challenging numbers.

Last summer, she sang at the Kennedy Center with the MENC All-National Choir. "I met so many people," she says.

"My roommate was Korean. Another guy came from Alaska with his tuba. He was telling us how long his trip took him. Someone said, 'I hope you don't play the tuba!' And he said, 'Actually, I do.' "

She laughs. "It's nice to sing, and not have to carry your instrument around."

For Carnegie Hall, Olivia is learning six songs.

One is "Rejoice, Mother of God," by Franz Joseph Haydn. There is also a gospel song called "I Can Feel The Spirit."

The choir is also tackling a song from India called "Desh," and a song in Russian by the great pianist Serge Rachmaninoff.

Olivia says YouTube helps her pronounce foreign words. "It's so accessible," she says. "When I'm doing French and German songs, I find them on YouTube and listen to them."

Right now she is singing an aria in Italian. It is "Voi Che Sapete," a love song from Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro."

With all this experience, does she plan to turn pro? She doesn't know.

Olivia knows she wants to go away to college, and has applied to Yale, Colgate and Vassar, but isn't sure about her major. To get a taste of a musician's life, she joined the Chromatic Club, a historic Buffalo group whose members give concerts.

"I signed up for one in June," she says. "Hopefully I'll do a German song."

Meanwhile, Carnegie Hall awaits.

"To be able to go to New York City," she says, "is amazing."

email: mkunz@buffnews.com