CCM Celebrates Class of 2020

CCM is so proud of our graduates and of the faculty and staff who helped guide their success

After investing countless hours in classrooms, practice rooms, studios, workshops and rehearsal halls, the Class of 2020 is graduating from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. Congratulations!

Photo of CCM Village as the cover for the Graduation Convocation program.

Click the image to download CCM’s 2020 Graduation Convocation program. Design by Mikki Graff.

The CCM community is inspired by the Class of 2020’s resilience during this unprecedented crisis and is proud to welcome this year’s graduates to our global network of alumni. Graduates join a network of thousands of UC alumni including artists, entrepreneurs, researchers, leaders and professionals around the world.

“I wish we could gather in Corbett Auditorium to recognize and celebrate all you’ve achieved,” CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein says. “I’d like nothing more than to shake your hand, to look you in the eye and say, on behalf of CCM’s faculty and staff, ‘Congratulations! Well done!’ Unfortunately, COVID-19 has relegated us to a virtual celebration.”

“Please know how proud we are of you and of what you’ve done,” Romanstein adds. “CCM’s reputation as a nationally ranked and internationally renowned institution rests with you. The faculty and I look forward to following your journey, wherever it may take you.”

In addition to CCM’s degree recipients, we also acknowledge this year’s student and faculty award recipients:

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student Achievement Award: Melinda Hunt
  • Sigma Alpha Iota Scholastic Award for Outstanding Achievement: Adelaide Young
  • Ernest N. Glover Award for Outstanding Teaching: Tricia Sundbeck

CCM also celebrates five retiring faculty members who have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts:

  • Earl Rivers, professor of music and director of choral studies, 1973-2020
  • Dean Mogle, professor and head of costume design and technology, 1989-2020
  • Alan Siebert, professor of trumpet, 1990-2020
  • Mark Williams, professor of lighting design and technology, 2009-2020
  • Stephen Allee, professor of music, 2015-2020

We look forward to a time in which we can all come together again to mark these momentous milestones in person. Until then, please accept our digital congratulations on behalf of CCM’s faculty, staff, friends and alumni.

Congratulations to CCM’s Class of 2020!

View the list of CCM’s 2020 graduates.

You can also download the online version of the Graduation Convocation program booklet.


#UCGrad2020

UC President Neville G. Pinto invites the university community to participate in a two-day virtual graduation celebration on May 1-2, 2020. To mark this important milestone, UC Student Affairs and its Commencement Office has planned the following digital activities, which will be based in their Twitter account @StuAffUC and use the hashtag #UCGrad20.

A Day of GRAD-itude

Every hour from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, May 1, Student Affairs will share a sampling of thank you messages from graduates as they show their GRAD-itude to those who have been a part of their journey to graduation.

Celebration Saturday

Commemorate your achievement by taking a walk down memory lane. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, Student Affairs will tweet every half hour to celebrate the day with you. Follow along for fun flashbacks, interactive polls, lots of great GIFs and a chance to tell us about your memorable moments at UC. If you happen to be online at 4:30 p.m., you’ll catch a message from President Pinto and then finish the festivities at 5 p.m. with a virtual cap toss.

Until we can see one another again in person, please stay in touch and and stay connected at alumni.uc.edu


Featured images of CCM’s 2019 Graduation Convocation by Jay Yocis 

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CCM Announces Megan Steigerwald Ille as New Assistant Professor of Musicology

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of musicologist Megan Steigerwald Ille, PhD, to the college’s roster of distinguished faculty members. Steigerwald Ille’s appointment as Assistant Professor of Musicology – Educator begins on Aug. 15, 2020.

A portrait of new CCM faculty member Megan Steigerwald Ille.Steigerwald Ille is a musicologist whose research and teaching considers the intersections of operatic, popular and digital cultures in the 21st century in the United States and Canada. Her book-in-progress, Opera for Everyone: Experimenting with American Opera in the Digital Age, explores changing modes of spectatorship and performer labor in contemporary opera in the US through an in-depth ethnographic study of the LA-based experimental opera company called The Industry.

She has articles forthcoming in the Journal of the Society of American Music and The Opera Quarterly. Since 2018 she has served as a Postdoctoral Fellow of Digital Cultures in the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Steigerwald Ille completed her PhD in Historical Musicology and a certificate in Ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

“I am grateful to Musicology Search Committee Chair Jonathan Kregor and committee members Amy Beegle, Jenny Doctor, Scott Linford and Stephen Meyer for their work finding CCM’s next great musicology professor,” said Romanstein. “We look forward to welcoming Megan Steigerwald Ille to the CCM family.”

About CCM

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world stage.

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu

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CCM Announces Shelina Brown as New Assistant Professor of American Music

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of musicologist Shelina Brown to the college’s roster of distinguished faculty members. Brown’s appointment as Assistant Professor of American Music begins on Aug. 15, 2020.

A portrait of new CCM faculty member Shelina Brown.Brown holds an MA and PhD from UCLA’s Department of Musicology. Her primary research project centers on experimental vocal practices and cultural resistance within underground music scenes. Brown’s dissertation project, “Yoko Ono’s Experimental Vocality as Matrixial Borderspace: Theorizing Yoko Ono’s Extended Vocal Technique and her Contributions to the Development of Underground and Popular Vocal Repertoires, 1968-Present,” focused on Yoko Ono’s extended vocal techniques of the late 1960s and early 1970s that came to influence a range of counter-hegemonic vocalists throughout the late 20th century.

Brown’s methodological approach draws upon contemporary feminist psychoanalytical theories, adapting these for the purpose of musical analysis of vocality and gendered subjectivization. In this vein, her theoretical approach to music studies aims to bring feminist psychoanalysis into dialogue with posthuman thought, queer studies and critical race theory.

A Canadian national raised in Kyoto, Japan, Brown also holds a Master’s in Comparative Literature specializing in modern Japanese literature. Prior to commencing studies in musicology, Shelina was employed as a sessional lecturer of modern Japanese literature at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Brown’s article “Scream from the Heart: Yoko Ono’s Rock ’n’ Roll Revolution” has been published in Sheila Whiteley’s compilation, Countercultures and Popular Music (Ashgate, 2014). She is currently preparing an article, Of Insects and Interstices: Yoko Ono’s Experimental Short Film, Fly (1970) and the Synaesthetic Un-Mapping of the Abstract Female Nude,” which will be forthcoming in 2021. Brown has presented papers at annual meetings including SEM (Society for Ethnomusicology), IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music), AAS (American Association for Asian Studies) and EMP (Experience Music Project).

A long-term participant in underground and independent music scenes, Brown has been active as a vocalist and instrumentalist in several new wave and garage rock bands over the past 10 years. She still maintains close ties to the Los Angeles underground, and looks forward to exploring music scenes across Ohio.

“I send my gratitude to our search committee comprised of Jonathan Kregor (chair), Stefan Fiol, Jeongwon Joe, Matthew Peattie and Shauna Steele for their work in finding CCM’s next great professor of American music,” said Romanstein. “We look forward to welcoming Shelina Brown this fall.”

About CCM

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world stage.

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu

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Musical Family Gives Living Room Performance of Beethoven String Quartet

A family of musicians stuck at home during the pandemic found a perfect venue for a chamber music performance — their living room. The four string players, including two UC College-Conservatory of Music students, performed the first movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3 and shared it online for music lovers everywhere to enjoy.

The home concert features Cleveland Orchestra violinist Kathleen Collins and her children: Daniel Fields, a student violinist at CCM; Matthew Fields, a student cellist at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University; and Maya Fields, a student violist at CCM.

The performance received rave reviews from the family’s live-audience member, Cleo the dog. Tune into the performance on CCM’s YouTube channel.


Video provided by Maya Fields

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Cincinnati Enquirer: CCM Alum Writes Custom Songs During Pandemic

As performing arts centers around the world announce event cancelations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, musicians are finding new ways to share and create their art. The Cincinnati Enquirer recently featured how one UC College-Conservatory of Music alumnus is sharing his work through a unique business model.

Ryan Fine. Photo/Ryan Fine

Ryan Fine (BFA Commercial Music Production, ’17) is a Nashville-based performer, songwriter, pianist and producer who suddenly found himself with an empty calendar when performances were canceled. So, he started Fine-Tuned Custom Songs to create original works for music lovers during the pandemic.

Fine will create an original song based on what the customer wants. Customers can request songs for any occasion, specify the tone and style of music. Prices for the songs start at $50.

Read the full article.

Fine has been writing and producing custom songs for kids going through traumatic experiences with the Songs of Love Foundation since 2016. He was voted Best Instrumentalist of 2019 by readers of the Nashville Scene. As an artist he has over 275,000 streams on Spotify. Cincinnati audiences may remember his jazz pop group Ryan Fine & The Media, which performed a set at the Midpoint Music Festival in 2016. Learn more about Fine on his professional website.


Feature image at top: Ryan Fine at the piano. Photo/Ryan Fine

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CCM Celebrates 2020 Faculty Retirements

As the 2019-20 academic year comes to a close, UC’s College-Conservatory of Music celebrates the careers of five retiring faculty members who have given nearly 124 years of combined service to the college. These members of the CCM family have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts:

  • Earl Rivers, professor of music and director of choral studies, 1973-2020
  • Dean Mogle, professor and head of costume design and technology, 1989-2020
  • Alan Siebert, professor of trumpet, 1990-2020
  • Mark Williams, professor of lighting design and technology, 2009-20
  • Stephen Allee, professor of music, 2015-20

Please join us in saluting their years of service to the CCM community!


Earl Rivers conducts CCM’s 2018 performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” at Cincinnati’s Knox Presbyterian Church. Photo/Andrew Higley

Earl Rivers arrived at CCM as a DMA student in September 1970. During his first month at the college, he remembers joining other student conductors and the May Festival Chorus to welcome incoming Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Thomas Schippers with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem at Music Hall. He has since presented numerous choral masterworks with students at CCM and throughout Greater Cincinnati.

“My favorite memories at CCM include the staged productions we accomplished of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion, and of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake — all staged by talented student directors in CCM’s Opera Stage Directing Artist Diploma Program,” Rivers says. “These productions prepared CCM’s student singers, instrumentalists, conductors, and technical theatre majors to become leaders in the next generation of performers in staged productions of concert works and oratorios.”


Dean Mogle displays his costume designs for CCM’s 2016 production of “Swan Lake.” Photo/Becky Butts

After 31 years at CCM with nearly 150 costume design graduates and more than 300 supervised staged productions, Dean Mogle has too many memories to single out only a few. “The richness of student talent over the years has elevated all of us to new heights in training,” he says.

“I am most proud as our students take their rightful places in this country’s most prestigious theatre, opera and dance organizations, as well as Broadway, motion pictures and television productions,” Mogle adds. “Over the years, the incredibly dedicated professional staff and faculty have mentored each student toward their full potential and guided them into their chosen areas of this profession. Whether designing, assisting, managing, making or dressing, our students are admired by the profession for their talents, skills and dedication — hallmarks of CCM.”


Alan Siebert and Bryan Crisp snap a selfie behind-the-scene of Crisp’s Music On Purpose podcast. Photo/Bryan Crisp

Alan Siebert’s favorite memories of are watching students succeed, whether at a recital, conference or on stage. Over the years, he has celebrated students’ accomplishments near and far — in performances in Cincinnati as well as all over the world including Bangkok, Thailand.  He remembers trying to livestream a broadcast of students performing at the National Trumpet Competition in Texas when he and his wife were driving home from one of his own concerts. They pulled into the parking lot of a shopping center, sat in their car and watched the performance on his phone so they could cheer them on from afar.

“I also love performing with my former students,” adds Siebert, who recently reunited with former student Bryan Crisp (MM, ’05) to talk about his career on Crisp’s Music On Purpose podcast. “Whether it’s in a recital, orchestra or chamber music setting. It is always gratifying to see them years later and marvel at how well they have done, knowing that you had a small part in that development. I have had great colleagues and students at CCM and also many wonderful opportunities because of CCM.”


Mark Williams coordinated the BOOM! lighting display at CCM’s 2020 Moveable Feast. Photo/Quinn Villarreal

Mark Williams is the instructor and coordinator behind CCM’s annual BOOM! lighting showcase, a dazzling stage lighting and technical production display by students in his Moving Light Programming course. The event inspired the “Light Their Way” theme at CCM’s 2020 Moveable Feast fundraiser.

Former student Oliver Littleton (BFA, ’19) remembers taking Williams’ Moving Light Programming course and how it challenged him to examine his design process and use lighting technology in new ways. “The training from Mark’s course is something I use all the time in my work now,” said Littleton, who began working as a lighting design intern at Walt Disney World during his final year at CCM.


CCM faculty members Kim Pensyl, Stephen Allee, Craig Bailey and Scott Belck in Brazil during CCM’s residency with JALCO. Photo/Stephen Allee

A pianist, composer and arranger, Stephen Allee has spent more than 35 years working primarily as a jazz instructor as well as writing and performing for syndicated radio programs, network TV and motion pictures. Over the summer, he traveled with the CCM Jazz Orchestra to São Paulo, Brazil for an international residency with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. CCM’s Department of Jazz Studies was named Jazz at Lincoln Center‘s inaugural College Affiliate, a distinction reserved for the country’s top-ranked jazz programs.

More recently, Allee worked with fellow CCM faculty member Rusty Burge and musicians Steve Houghton, Rob Dixon and Jeremy Allen to release BAHAD in January 2020. Allee wrote the title track of the record, which is available to stream online.

“My experience in the Jazz Studies Department at CCM has been nothing short of amazing,” Allee says. “Our students have grown by leaps and bounds, nurtured by the encouraging atmosphere in our department.”

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Playbill Streams Broadway’s ‘Bandstand’ Musical Film on April 10

Playbill will stream the 2017 Broadway musical Bandstand, written by CCM Acting alumnus Richard Oberacker (BFA, ’93) and Robert Taylor, beginning tonight, April 10, 2020. The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of World War II veteran Donny Novitski, who forms a band with fellow veterans and enters a national contest to become America’s newest musical sensation.

Richard Oberacker with CCM Acting Professor Richard Hess at a preview performance of “Bandstand” on Broadway.

The first Playbill Playback, a new series in which old and recent favorite musicals can be streamed on Playbill.com, Bandstand will be streamed for the first time on April 10 and will be available through April 17. A portion of the proceeds raised with the stream will go to The Actors Fund.

The Bandstand stream will also feature an interview with co-stars Laura Osnes, Corey Cott and Beth Leavel as well as director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and co-creators Oberacker and Taylor.

In addition to Oberacker, alumni from across CCM are involved in this award-winning musical. Geoff Packard (BFA Musical Theatre, ’04) plays Wayne Wright, a trombonist in the veteran band; Max Clayton (BFA Musical Theatre, ’14) is in the ensemble; Greg Anthony Rassen (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’03) is the co-orchestrator, music supervisor and music arranger; and David Kreppel (BFA Musical Theatre, ’92) is the vocal music arranger.

Bandstand was the first theatrical production in history to be certified authentic by Got Your 6, an organization that advocates for authentic portrayal of the military across entertainment.

Learn more about the Bandstand stream on Playbill.

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Enjoy a Classic Jazz Performance from CCM’s Video Archives

Although the theaters and concert halls at the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through CCM’s new CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release features a classic jazz performance from CCM’s video archives.

On May 22, 2011, the CCM Jazz Ensemble was joined by Grammy Award-nominee, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and Kennedy Center “Living Legend of Jazz” Gerald Wilson (1918-2014) for an unforgettable evening of big band music. The concert also featured the talents of Mary Ellen Tanner (1946-2014), a renowned jazz vocalist who taught at CCM for many years.

An acclaimed composer, arranger and band leader of modern jazz who was in his 92nd year at the time of this recording, Wilson’s talent was legendary among jazz insiders. His classic compositions include “Blues for Count Basie” written for Basie while Wilson was in his band and “Blues for Yna Yna,” which was the second jazz waltz ever written.

“Gerald Wilson is a living legend and a part of the golden age of the big band as a writer, arranger and trumpet player,” CCM Professor and Jazz department head Scott Belck commented in 2011, adding that Wilson was also “one of the most interesting cats you will ever meet.” Wilson passed away in Los Angeles in September 2014.

Wilson’s groundbreaking compositions, intricate arrangements and immediately recognizable sound put him in a league of his own. In his prolific seven-decade career as composer and arranger, Wilson was behind some of the greatest names in jazz, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson and Bobby Darin. Beyond his jazz accomplishments, Wilson’s symphonic compositions were performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta. He even scored a top 40 pop hit with El Chicano’s 1970 version of his “Viva Tirado,” a song that has been recorded in at least 18 different versions, including a hip-hop rendition by Latino rapper Kid Frost.

This concert was originally streamed online with support provided by the Corbett Endowment for CCM and the Franklin L. Folger Trust. The performance was later broadcast on CET Cincinnati Public Television.

Receive updates on future CCMONSTAGE Online performances by subscribing to our mailing list at https://ccm.uc.edu/subscribe


Featured image at top: The CCM Jazz Ensemble in a March 2012 rehearsal. Photo/Dottie Stover/UC Creative Services.

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CCM Acting Class of 2020 Presents Virtual Senior Showcase

Watch a collection of five scenes showcasing the talents of CCM Acting’s Class of 2020

The Acting Department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM Acting) proudly presents its first Virtual Senior Showcase. Although the COVID-19 novel coronavirus prevented CCM Acting from holding its customary Senior Showcases for agents and casting directors in New York and Los Angeles this spring, the program’s new Virtual Senior Showcase allows industry insiders and the general public to see this year’s seniors in action.

The video showcase includes five scenes showcasing the talents of CCM Acting’s Class of 2020. Directed by Professor D’Arcy Smith, the A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair in Acting at CCM, the showcase features students performing excerpts from TV programs, films and plays including “227,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Pysch” and “Embers” along with an excerpt of “My So-Called Gay Life” written by CCM Acting student Abby Palen. A collaboration with CCM’s Electronic Media program, the CCM Acting Virtual Senior Showcase features the work of E-Media majors Caleb Smiley and Carlos Herriott II. Viewer discretion is advised; this video features strong language and mature content.

“Although we’ve transitioned to remote operations, we remain committed to our ongoing academic and artistic missions,” says Smith. “Our senior Acting students have put in countless hours preparing for their industry debuts in this year’s Senior Showcase and they deserve to have their time in the spotlight. They should be very proud of everything that they have accomplished, and we are happy to present this video snapshot of their talent for the entire world to enjoy.”

Get to know the graduating seniors by reading their professional summaries!

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CCM Voice Student Advances to Lotte Lenya Competition finals

CCM is delighted to announce that first-year artist diploma student Teresa Perrotta (MM Voice, ’19) reached the finals of the Lotte Lenya Competition, one of the most prestigious vocal competitions for young artists.

Composer John Corigliano and Teresa Perrotta at the French premiere of “The Ghosts of Versailles.” Photo/Gail Luna

A rising soprano, Perrotta won the Seybold-Russell Award at CCM’s 2019 Opera Scholarship Competition and advanced to the Upper Midwest Regional Auditions in this year’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In December 2019, she made her international debut as Marie Antoinette in the French premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles at the Château de Versailles Royal Opera. She studies with CCM Voice Professor Gwendolyn Coleman.

Perrotta is one of 12 finalists in the 2020 Lotte Lenya Competition. These finalists were selected out of 282 applicants from 24 states after a preliminary video round and a semi-finals round in New York City. The finals were initially scheduled for May 2 at the Eastman School of Music, but the Kurt Weill Foundation, which holds the competition, is exploring other options in light of the current global health crisis.

Teresa Perrotta. Photo/Caitlin and Kevin Photography

Teresa Perrotta. Photo/Caitlin and Kevin Photography

CCM is often well-represented at the Lotte Lenya Competition. In 2017, Paulina Villarreal (DMA Voice, ‘18; MM Voice, ’15) won third prize, while Jasmin Habersham (AD Opera, ‘15; MM Voice, ‘13) and Lisa Marie Rogali (MM Voice, ’18) each received prizes of $3000. Talya Lieberman (AD Opera, ‘16) took Third Prize in the 2016 installment of this prestigious international theatre singing contest, while Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, ‘13) won Third Prize in 2013 and alumna Caitlin Mathes (AD Opera, ’10, MM Voice, ‘09) won First Prize in 2011.

About the Lotte Lenya Competition

More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of “total-package performers” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. The roster of prizewinners has likewise grown to over 100, many of whom have gone on to major performing careers. Visit kwf.org for more information about the Kurt Weill Foundation or the Lotte Lenya Competition.


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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