Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Is February 1; Program Will Be Streamed Live on Facebook
Houston, January 28, 2018— Houston Grand Opera (HGO) has chosen the finalists for the 30th annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, to be presented in the Stude Concert Hall at Rice University on February 1 at 7 p.m. A limited number of general admission tickets for the performance are available here. For the second time, the program will also be streamed live on Facebook, as well as on YouTube. The livestream will be hosted this year by award-winning soprano Tamara Wilson. Viewers will be invited to cast their votes for an Online Viewers’ Choice Award.
The competition and its final round, the Concert of Arias, are held annually to identify candidates for HGO’s internationally acclaimed Studio program, which nurtures young artists who have the potential for major careers in opera. Among past prize winners who are now artists on the international stage are Jamie Barton, Joyce DiDonato, Ana María Martínez, Ryan McKinny, and Tamara Wilson.
Now in its 30th year, the competition received 506 applications from singers around the world. Auditions were conducted in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Houston.
After careful consideration, 13 semifinalists were chosen to come to Houston for further rounds of the prestigious competition. One of those, a citizen of Iran, was unable to obtain a visa because of the new U.S. travel restrictions. The field of semifinalists was narrowed down to eight finalists today. The selected finalists will have the opportunity to learn more about HGO and work with HGO’s music staff leading up to the Concert of Arias, in which they will perform two arias each, competing for $24,500 in cash prizes. Finalists will be accompanied by HGO Studio Music Director Bradley Moore.
Two of the eight finalists are alumni of HGO’s Young Artists Vocal Academy (YAVA), a week-long course established in 2011 to give talented undergraduates an introduction to the information and training they will need to develop careers in opera.
The judging panel will be led by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech, with guest judge Eric Owens, the eminent bass-baritone and HGO Studio alumnus who is appearing in HGO’s current production of The Barber of Seville. For the fourth year, world- renowned soprano and HGO Studio alumna Ana María Martínez will select a finalist to receive her encouragement award. Audience members also have the opportunity to participate in the evening’s events when they choose their favorite singer for the Audience Choice Award. Proceeds from Concert of Arias 2018 benefit the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
For the second year the Concert of Arias will be streamed live on Facebook, and also this year on YouTube. The livestream will be hosted by soprano Tamara Wilson, a winner of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award and an HGO Studio alumna who is appearing in the company’s current production of Elektra. Ms. Wilson will interview current and former HGO Studio artists during the intermission while viewers cast their votes for an Online Viewers’ Choice Award. The winner will be announced during the second portion of the program along with the other winners.
This year’s Concert of Arias, chaired by Rini and Edward Ziegler, honors Dr. Ellen R. Gritz and Milton D. Rosenau Jr. for their many years of generous support of HGO and Studio events. The evening begins with a champagne reception at 6 p.m. The vocal competition commences at 7 p.m. in the Stude Concert Hall and will also feature performances by current artists of the HGO Studio. Following the concert, artists, patrons, and underwriters will be seated for a dinner at Hotel ZaZa.
Since its inception 41 years ago, the HGO Studio has grown to be one of the most respected young artist programs in the country. Each of the young artists in the HGO Studio has access to a learning environment that emphasizes practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes regular coaching sessions with industry professionals, roles in HGO mainstage productions, recital performances, and a variety of other concert engagements.