Bearcats at the Ballpark

CCM students and alumni to sing National Anthem at Reds Game

CCM students and alumni will sing The Star-Spangled Banner at the Great American Ball Park Friday night before the Cincinnati Reds play against the Seattle Mariners. The baseball diamond will serve as the singers’ stage as they perform during UC’s annual Bearcats at the Ballpark outing.

Students Nicole Hodgins, Sam Krausz, Grace Newberry, Pedro Arroyo and Chris Albanese will join alumni Danielle Adams (MM Voice 2014), Sarah Folsom (MM Voice 2015) and Stephen Hanna (MM Voice 2016) in singing the National Anthem at the game.

Bearcats at the BallparkThe event features a pre-game celebration at 5:45 p.m. with free giveaways at the Kroger Fan Zone, where UC President Santa Ono will perform the cello before the game. President Ono will also throw the first pitch at 7:10 p.m. Each year, discounted game tickets are offered to UC students, alumni, faculty and staff for Bearcats at the Ballpark:

Field Box: $28 (regularly $36)
Outer Mezzanine: $18 (regularly $20)
View Level: $11 (regularly $15)

To purchase tickets, visit reds.com/bearcats or call (513) 765-7055. Make sure to select CCM as your college in the drop-down menu!

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Heyuan Theatre

CCM Prep’s Starling Chamber Orchestra to tour China

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory and Community Engagement is proud to announce that the remarkable talents of the Starling Chamber Orchestra are embarking on a tour in southern China this summer. Between June 13 and June 24, 2016, these young artists will perform a total of six concerts in professional venues.

Starling Chamber Orchestra

Starling Chamber Orchestra. Photo by Gary Kessler.

The program features a refreshing variety of composers, classical periods and regional styles. Among the selections are Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Bartok’s Romanian Folkdances and Spring of Xinjiang, a Chinese traditional piece, to name a few.While on tour the Starling Chamber Orchestra will perform in six professional venues: the Hunan Radio and Television Center studio, Shantou Arts Grand Theatre, Shenzhen Poly Theater, Huizhou Poly Culture and Arts Center and Heyuan Theatre.

While on tour the Starling Chamber Orchestra will perform in six professional venues: the Hunan Radio and Television Center studio, Shantou Arts Grand Theatre, Shenzhen Poly Theater, Huizhou Poly Culture and Arts Center and Heyuan Theatre.

The Starling Chamber Orchestra (SCO) is a 25-member string ensemble of young artists from the Cincinnati Starling Project. CCM Violin Professor and Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Classical Violin, Kurt Sassmannshaus, founded the Starling Project in 1989. It offers unprecedented opportunities for young artists to perform as soloists, tour internationally, and make recordings. These young virtuosi have attracted widespread attention, including feature articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times. Branded as “The World’s Youngest Chamber Orchestra” by the Münchner Merkur, the orchestra has been featured on From the Top, Performance Today and on Robert Sherman’s Young Artists Showcase program in New York. The SCO maintains a busy touring and recording schedule. Since 1992, the orchestra has performed frequently at the Aspen Music Festival and has toured Europe, Korea, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China and at Lincoln and Kennedy Centers. The orchestra also performs an annual series of concerts at CCM.

The members of the Starling Chamber Orchestra also participate in the Cincinnati Starling Project, a specialized educational program for talented young string players. Its mission is to pass on the rich tradition of classical music to the next generation of performers and audiences by training exceptional students. In addition to private lessons, students participate in a comprehensive program that includes chamber music and music theory.

Starling Project students and alumni have won awards such as the International Tchaikovsky Competition, The China International Violin Competition, and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

The Cincinnati Starling Project and Starling Chamber Orchestra are generously funded through a grant from the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation, as well as a number of generous donors. The program is also supported by the Starling Project Foundation, Inc. and the Preparatory Department of CCM.

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Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

CCM News Student Salutes
CCM Graduation Convocation and luncheon 2016. Photos by Lisa Britton.

CCM Slideshows: Graduation Convocation 2016

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CCM celebrated the Class of 2016 with a luncheon and Graduation Convocation Ceremony on April 30. The ceremony featured students receiving baccalaureate, masters, doctoral, and artist diploma degrees and recognized this year’s distinguished alumni and service award recipients.

Dean Peter Landgren began the ceremony with a welcome address and recognition awards. Steve Shin (MM Trombone 2013, MA/MBA Arts Administration 2016) received the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award. The Distinguished Alumnus Award went to David Daniels (BM Voice, 1990) and Trish Bryan was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

Congratulations to all of the 2016 graduates of the UC College-Conservatory of Music! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the years ahead.

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CCM/CSO Fellowship award winners, a cooperative program between CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Andrew Higley.

CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announce the Inaugural Class of Diversity Fellows

Following a rigorous application and audition process, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five outstanding string musicians for the inaugural class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program is made possible by a generous $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The inaugural CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are: Emilio Carlo, 21 (viola); Diana Flores, 26 (cello); Blake-Anthony Johnson, 25 (cello); Vijeta Sathyaraj, 27 (violin); and Maurice Todd, 37 (double bass). The Fellows were selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw more than 100 talented musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Twelve string players were invited back to Cincinnati for a final round of auditions for CSO musicians on March 14, 2016.

“For this inaugural class, we have selected a cohort of astonishingly talented musicians, who come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren. “Our Fellows hail from New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Costa Rica and Hong Kong, and represent the future of American orchestras. Working in close collaboration with our partners at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers, while challenging the status quo of our industry.”

With this innovative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO are providing new opportunities for underrepresented musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the world of professional orchestras. According to the League of American Orchestras, just over four percent of orchestra musicians are African-American or Latino. With that statistic in mind, the CSO and CCM want to foster an environment that promotes greater diversity on the stages of American orchestras. The program’s tagline – Bravos Without Barriers – gets to the heart of this mission.

This new two-year program, that is already garnering attention among leaders throughout the music world, consists of frequent performances with the CSO, focused mentorship by professional CSO musicians, and simultaneous instruction by CCM’s illustrious faculty.

“The level of musicianship on display during our final round of auditions is a testament to the merit of this program,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “Through our partnership with CCM and with the extraordinary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can provide a truly transformative experience for these exceptional performers at a crucial time in their careers. We look forward to welcoming our inaugural Fellows to Cincinnati this fall and we can’t wait to share their talents with the Greater Cincinnati community.”

How the Fellowship works

The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows will officially arrive in Cincinnati this August. CCM and the CSO will welcome a second class of five Diversity Fellows in the fall of 2017, bringing the number of Fellows in the program to ten during the 2017-18 academic year and orchestra season.

Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, in addition to a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO. They will perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO in a progressive sequence of concert weeks based on program difficulty, with one week focused on community engagement and educational activities.

This unique educational opportunity is the first of its kind to pair a major conservatory with a major orchestra, bridging the pre-professional gap while also fostering a more inclusive environment within professional orchestras. The Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, will serve as an external evaluator and advisor.

Along with the professional performance experience, Fellows will receive focused mentorship from CSO musicians on top of regular instruction and guidance from CCM’s illustrious faculty. Their mentorship includes coaching sessions before each rehearsal cycle, ongoing stand partner coaching and post-performance feedback. There will also be non- performance related career counseling to prepare the Fellows for their future.

When asked about what made this new program so distinctive, incoming Fellow Emilio Carlo commented:

“Being raised in the Bronx, I would’ve never thought my future would involve classical music. When I attend orchestra concerts, there aren’t many musicians of color seen on stage. In fact, it’s always an ‘aha’ moment when I see a Latino or African American musician playing in a symphony. I knew the Fellowship was my top choice as soon as I read their mission statement: ‘We want to change the face of the American symphony.’”

Meet the Fellows

Emilio Carlo

Emilio Carlo. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Emilio Carlo, Artist Diploma Viola
Emilio Carlo is a native of the Bronx, New York, and currently resides in Washington D.C. He is a first-year Artist Diploma student at CCM and recently graduated from the conservatory with a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance. He previously studied with Catharine Carroll-Lees and Masao Kawasaki and is currently under the tutelage of Jan Grüning of the Ariel Quartet.

In previous years, he has attended the Aspen Music Festival and Japan’s Pacific Music Festival. He was also appointed as Principal Viola for a concert tour under the direction of Maestro Yutaka Sado. Outside of music, his hobbies include attending jazz concerts, cooking and exercising.

Carlo is a 2012 recipient of the Brewster Award for young artists from the John. F Kennedy Center for the performing arts. He is honored to be a member of the inaugural class of the Diversity Fellowship, which he feels will prepare him to win a professional orchestra audition in the near future.

Diana Flores

Diana Flores. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Diana Flores, Artist Diploma Cello
Cellist Diana Flores has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, China and her home country of Costa Rica. At age nine, she started playing cello at the Instituto Nacional de Musica in San José. Ten years later, Flores moved to Boston to complete her undergraduate studies at the Longy School of Music, where she studied under Mihail Jojatu.

During her years in Boston she performed with the Boston Pops and Boston Philharmonic Orchestras. She was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summers of 2012 and 2013 and is a former member of Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She also traveled to Japan to participate in the Pacific Music Festival.

After moving to Chicago in 2013, she became a member of the Civic Orchestra, a two-year training program with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While there, she joined the MusiCorps String Quartet, a music education and advocacy program in which she performed in many Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park Districts. Flores is finishing her Masters Degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, studying under Richard Hirschl.

Blake-Anthony Johnson

Blake-Anthony Johnson. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Blake-Anthony Johnson, Artist Diploma Cello
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Blake-Anthony Johnson began playing cello at age 12 and was self-taught until the age of 18. He has performed and recorded works by Richard Danielpour, Claudio Gabriele, Adam Schoenberg and Poul Ruders. As a soloist and guest Principal cellist, he has worked with conductors across the United States including JoAnn Falletta, David S. Wiley and Carl Topilow. Passionate about chamber music, Johnson is a founding member and former cellist in the Läc Quartet. As the recipient of the Vanderbilt Music Académie grant, the quartet received commissions and residency in Festival d’Aix held in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Additional performances include both orchestral and chamber music at the Spoleto Music Festival, Lev Aronson Legacy Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, National Music Festival and Brevard Music Festival. He is the former chair and founding member of the Music Education and Youth Initiative, which served underprivileged children in the greater Metropolitan area of Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson was a prizewinner in the MTNA Young Artist Competition, the World Competition; the Daniel Rains, and Brevard Music Festival Concerto competitions.

Johnson received his Bachelor of Music degree under Felix Wang and Kathryn Plummer at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and later studied under Bryan Dumm and Alan Harrell of the Cleveland Orchestra for his Master of Music diploma. His most recent education was in the prestigious Orchestral Program at the Manhattan School of Music studying with Alan Stepansky with additional studies under David Geber and Wolfram Koessel.

Vijeta Sathyaraj

Vijeta Sathyaraj. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Vijeta Sathyaraj, Artist Diploma Violin
Born in Macau, China, Vijeta Sathyaraj began violin studies in the Philippines at the age of 3.  By age 6, she was featured on the Philippine National Broadcast and was studying with Basilio Manalo.  She went on to study with Fan Ting at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and later took lessons from Dennis Kim. Sathyaraj graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she studied with Vesna Gruppman. She later earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music degree from Lynn Conservatory.

Sathyaraj has performed solo recitals in Denmark, India, Hong Kong and the United States. In 2001, she was featured in a CNN broadcast, and in 2004, she organized and performed in a piano trio to raise $3,000 for development work in Hanoi, Vietnam. She has performed in the Idyllwild Arts Festival Orchestra and she joined the Oberlin Symphony for a performance in Carnegie Hall under Robert Spano in 2007. She has attended the Meadowmount School of Music, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival.

Sathyaraj recently completed her Professional Performance Certificate at Lynn University where she studies under Carol Cole. Former mentors include Milan Vitek, Andrew Jennings, Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, and Midori. Sathyaraj’s commitment to outreach and diversifying audiences to Western classical music led her to apply to CCM.

Maurice Todd

Maurice Todd. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Maurice Todd, Artist Diploma Double Bass
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Maurice Todd received his Bachelor of Music in Double Bass Performance from CCM. He is a current section bassist in the Lexington Philharmonic. In addition to being a seven-time Aspen Fellowship recipient, Todd previously won the Dayton Philharmonic Minority Fellowship, was the low string winner of the CCM concerto competition, earned the National Symphony Orchestra League Scholarship and was a fellowship recipient in the Spoleto Italy Opera Festival. Most recently, he received the distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award from the UC Graduate School.

Todd has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Richmond Symphony and Kentucky Symphony. He has been a soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, Seven Hills Sinfonietta, Wired and the CCM Concert Orchestra.

This year, Todd will graduate from CCM with a Master’s Degree in Double Bass Performance, where he serves as the graduate assistant for the double bass studio under the tutelage of Professor Albert Laszlo. His former mentors include Owen Lee, Edgar Meyer, Chris Hanulik, Bruce Bransby, Rob Oppelt, Eugene Levinson and Hal Robinson.

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CCM Doctoral Candidate wins $15,000 award from International Organization

Congrats to CCM doctoral candidate Alyssa Morris, who is one of 90 students in the U.S. and Canada selected to receive this year’s Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. This one-time merit-based award in the amount of $15,000 is for women in pursuit of a doctoral-level degree who have high academic achievement and potential for having positive impacts on society.

Alyssa Morris is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree under CCM Professor of Oboe, Dr. Mark Ostoich. She received her undergraduate and masters degrees in oboe performance from Brigham Young University, where she studied with Dr. Geralyn Giovannetti.

As a performer, Morris has achieved national acclaim. She was awarded first place in the Utah State Fair Young Artist Performance Competition in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She received first place in the Utah MTNA Young Artists performance competition in 2005, and second place in the Western United States Regional MTNA Young Artists performance competition in 2005. In August of 2014, Morris performed one of her own compositions at the International Double Reed Convention in New York City. Morris has frequently played with the Utah Lyric Opera, the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Baroque Ensemble, the Wasatch Winds and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Morris was also a member of the Utah Wind Symphony, a professional wind band based in Salt Lake City.

As a composer, Morris has been commissioned to write music for the Arizona State University faculty wind quartet, the Eastern Kentucky University faculty wind trio, Brigham Young University’s Sundance Trio, Ohio University’s Athenia Chamber Ensemble, a Trevco Music Publishing consortium of bassoonists from around the world and the Brigham Young University Symphonic Band. Her piece Four Personalities for oboe and piano has been performed at three of the International Double Reed Conventions since 2008. Her works have been presented at the Society of Composers Inc. National Convention and the International Double Reed Convention. Morris had three of her compositions performed at the 2014 IDRS convention in New York City. Morris’ music has been recorded on the Centaur and MSR Classics labels and published by Trevco Music Publishing.

About the P.E.O. Scholars Award

Founded in 1869 at the Iowa Wesleyan College, the P.E.O. Sisterhood is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards were established in 1991 and are one-time, competitive, merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an accredited college or university. In addition to recognizing and encouraging excellence in higher education, these awards provide partial support for study and research for women who will make significant contributions in their varied fields of endeavor. Priority is given to women who are well established in their programs, study or research. The numbers of awards are determined each year in accordance with the funds available. The current maximum award is $15,000.

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Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

CCM News Student Salutes
Lotte Lenya Competition Graphic.

CCM Students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson Win Top Prizes in 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition

We are delighted to report that current CCM students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson took home top prizes during the final round of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition. Sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the prestigious competition was held on April 16 in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Lieberman won a Third Prize, which includes a cash award of $7,500. Nelson received a Carolyn Weber Award in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships, which includes a $3,500 prize.

Nine awards and a total prize purse of $79,000 were given in the competition’s most competitive year yet. Foundation President and founder of the competition Kim Kowalke said of this year’s competition:

“The total amount and number of prizes awarded reflects the high level displayed at this year’s contest. It is a testament to the competition’s growth over nearly two decades.”

You can learn more about all of this year’s winners by visiting www.kwf.org.

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Both Lieberman and Nelson also made strong showings in last year’s Lotte Lenya Competition. Nelson advanced to the semifinal round of the competition (along with three other CCM-trained singers), while Lieberman won the Lys Symonette Award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number during 2015’s final round.

Lieberman and Nelson are the latest in a long line of CCM students and alumni who have reached the final rounds of the Lotte Lenya Competition. CCM alumna Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) took Third Prize in the 2013 installment of this prestigious international theatre singing contest. CCM alumna Caitlin Mathes (MM Voice, 2009; Artist Diploma in Opera, 2010) earned First Prize in 2011 and fellow alumna Alisa Suzanne Jordheim (BM Voice, 2008; MM Voice, 2010; DMA candidate) progressed to the final round of the competition that same year.

For this year’s competition, each finalist presented a 15 minute program of four selections in the daytime round. An evening concert followed, in which contestants sang only a segment of their programs.

All finalists received a minimum cash award of $1,000, with additional discretionary awards of $3,500 each, and top prizes ranging from $7,500 to $15,000.

The panel of judges included international opera star Teresa Stratas, Rodgers & Hammerstein President Theodore S. Chapin and Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 224 contestants later narrowed to 31 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Tony Award-winners Jeanine Tesori and Victoria Clark. Clark, who last judged the competition in 2012, noted:

“I can feel the leap in overall talent from the last time I judged.”

Now in its 19th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singers/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in prize money and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.

Previous Lenya Competition winners enjoy successful careers performing in major theaters and opera houses around the globe.

About the Kurt Weill Foundation
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of composer Kurt Weill (1900-50) and preserving the legacies of Weill and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). The Foundation administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and the Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter. Learn more by visiting www.kwf.org.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

About Talya Lieberman
Originally from Forest Hills, New York, soprano Talya Ilana Lieberman is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at CCM as a student of Professor William McGraw.

Recently described by Opera News as “poetically compelling,” “delectably stylish” and “technically refined,” Lieberman is equally at home with operatic, art song and musical theatre repertoire. Starting in September 2016 she will be seen frequently on stage at Komische Oper Berlin, where she will be assuming the soprano position in the Opernstudio. Her upcoming performances include debuts with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus, as well as the title role in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

Lieberman returned to Cincinnati this fall after completing a summer as a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where her ability to “make a point with the merest flick of a finger” (Washington Post) shined in a highly lauded run as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She also appeared in concert with Steven Blier at Wolf Trap in a program celebrating the Broadway legacy of the Rodgers family (The Rodgers Family – A Century of Musicals).

Lieberman is a convert from the orchestra pit and started singing after receiving her master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the tutelage of Judith Saxton. She completed her BA at Duke University with highest distinction in linguistics (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude). She is a two-time winner of full tuition and stipend—winning the Russell-Seybold and Italo Tajo Awards, respectively—at CCM’s Opera Scholarship Competition.

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

About Reilly Nelson
Born in the coastal town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, Reilly Nelson attended the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and CCM where she completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

Nelson is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at CCM.

At CCM she performed Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and Mary in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star. She also performed Hansel, as well as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, at Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.

The mezzo-soprano was a vocal fellow at the renowned Tanglewood Music Festival for the summers of 2014 and 2015, performing Les nuits d’été, Op. 7 and Folk Songs by Bernard Rands.

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Story by Curt Whitacre

CCM News Student Salutes
Rebecca Castillo performs in the Kentucky Bach Choir's Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition. Provided Photo.

CCM Singer Awarded in Kentucky Bach Choir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition

We are thrilled to share that CCM Master of Music student Rebecca Castillo won the Encouragement Award after participating in Kentucky Bach Coir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition on Saturday, April 9.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst. Provided Photo.

Nine student singers from six different states and nine universities competed in the live vocal competition, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Lexington. The singers competed for a Grand Prize of $1,500, an Audience Choice Award of $750, and two Encouragement Awards. As a recipient of the Encouragement Award, Castillo was given $500 and the opportunity to return as a paid guest soloist in future Kentucky Bach choir concerts.

The Grand Prize winner was Emily Yocum Black, who is pursuing a Master’s in Vocal Performance at the University of Louisville. The Audience Choice Award went to Zackery Morris, who is in pursuit of a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Kentucky. Julius Cruse Miller III, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Indiana University, won the other Encouragement Award.

Castillo is a soprano studying under the tutelage of Amy Johnson, assistant professor of voice, as part of the Master of Music program at CCM. She recently performed in the ensemble of CCM’s production of Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Last fall, Castillo performed J. S. Bach’s B Minor Mass with Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Music Education and previously taught choir at South Houston High School. While there, she performed with Houston’s Bach Society Choir including works B Minor Mass, St. Matthew’s Passion and Magnificat.

About the Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition
In its sixth year, the vocal competition was created to encourage exceptional student singers in the study of the solo repertoire of J. S. Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, and W. A. Mozart. Singers are selected for the live competition in Lexington by submitting recordings to Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director, Marlon Hurst. The competition was adjudicated by Hurst, Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at the University of Alamaba Dr. Krintine Hurst-Wajszczuk, and Zach Klobnak, director of music at The Presbyterian Church in Danville, Centre College organist and instructor of organ, harpsichord, and piano. Klobnak also serves as the accompanist for the Kentucky Bach Choir. All singers in the competition were accompanied by Nan McSwain, vocal coach and lecturer in opera with the University of Kentucky Opera Theater.

Ms. Audrey Heyman Rooney became the sponsor of the competition in 2013. A member of the Kentucky Bach Choir Board of Directors, Ms. Rooney has been a longtime advocate for the arts and for the encouragement of young artists, making significant contributions towards these ends in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky.

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