Rising opera stars handpicked for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival at Virginia Tech
A group of the world’s brightest rising opera stars will join internationally recognized opera legends, coaches, and instrumentalists on the Virginia Tech campus for the second annual Vocal Arts and Music Festival. Called Viva Virginia last year, the event is presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech from June 18-July 1.
These up-and-coming vocalists competed to participate in the festival and were carefully selected by International Vocal Arts Institute founders Joan Dornemann and Paul Nadler of the Metropolitan Opera. This year’s group of singers will travel from across the U.S. and countries such as Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Japan to participate in the Vocal Arts and Music Festival. With training from elite music institutions, such as Juilliard, Royal Academy of Music, and Yale University School of Music, the vocalists have performed with prestigious groups including the London Philharmonic and the New York Opera Theater; starred in opera masterpieces, such as “La Traviata,” “La Bohème,” “Carmen,” and “Don Giovanni;” and received top honors in a host of international singing competitions.
The vocalists will participate in performance training experiences, concerts, and masterclasses provided by distinguished vocal masters and coaches, who will be accompanied by internationally acclaimed instrumentalists. The festival’s distinguished guest artists will lead a wide range of intensive studies in vocal technique, style and interpretation, languages and diction, movement and acting, role preparation, and career development.
Blacksburg hosts one of the three International Vocal Arts Institute programs; the other two are in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Montreal.
The singers will include the following individuals.
- Julie Adams, a soprano from Burbank, Calif., recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
- Pianist Christopher Bailey of Evansville, Ind., is a third-year doctoral candidate in music, theater, and arts administration at Texas Tech University.
- Spanish baritone Elias Benito-Arranz holds bachelor’s degree in music and postgraduate diploma degrees from the Royal Academy of Music.
- Soprano Regan Bisch of Vancouver, Wash., received a bachelor’s degree in music from the North Carolina School of the Arts and is currently working on a master’s degree at the Mannes College of Music.
- Melissa Block, a mezzo-soprano from Commack, N.Y., has a bachelor’s degree in voice from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in voice at the Mannes College of Music.
- Soprano Katie Bolding from Oklahoma City, Okla., received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in opera performance from State University of New York at Purchase.
- Emily Buse is a soprano from New York City and is currently attending the Mannes College of Music.
- Soprano Elizabeth Calabro from Langhorne, Pa., is a student at Ithaca College studying vocal performance.
- Italian-American soprano Jessica Rose Cambio from Providence, R.I., received a bachelor’s degree in music degree from Rhode Island College and a master of music degree from the University of Southern California Thorton School of Music.
- Soprano Nicole Casteel of Evansville, Ind., holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Murray State University and is completing work toward a master’s degree in vocal performance at Texas Tech University.
- Tenor Oscar Benjamin Castro from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, is currently continuing his studies in New York City.
- Mexican mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa is from Laredo, Texas, and is currently finishing her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Baritone Jonathan Estabrooks, an Ottawa, Ontario native, is a graduate of The Juilliard School.
- Soprano Alexandra Fees from Huntsville, Ala., is working toward a bachelor’s degree in music at Mannes College.
- Baritone Gustavo Feulien from Buenos Aires, Argentina, completed music courses at the Julian Aguirre Conservatory and continued his studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón.
- Born in Copenhagen, tenor Adam Frandsen moved to the United States to study at the Moores School of Music and Yale University School of Music. He is currently a student at the Curtis Institute.
- Baritone Yuya Harada from Kumagaya City, Tokyo, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Tokyo University of the Arts.
- Bryn Holdsworth, a soprano from Stewartsville, N.J., is working on a bachelor’s degree in classical voice performance at the Manhattan School of Music.
- Toronto tenor Riccardo Iannello received a bachelor’s degree in music specializing in vocal performance from the University of Toronto and has a master’s degree in voice from the New England Conservatory of Music.
- Courtney Johnson, a soprano from Chesapeake, Va., is currently a sophomore at Mannes College of Music in New York.
- Baritone Philip Kalmanovitch from Montreal, Canada, has a bachelor’s degree in drama from Queen’s University and a diploma in operatic performance from the University of Ontario.
- Kasondra Kazanjian, a soprano from La Jolla, Calif., is currently attending Manhattan School of Music.
- Soprano Ashley Kerr of Charlotte, N.C., holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree from Florida State University.
- Soprano Claire Kuttler from Davenport, Iowa, has a master’s degree from the University of Maryland and has been a member of the Maryland Opera Studio.
- Soprano Yasmine Levi-Ellentuck from Karmiel, Israel, is a graduate of the Music Academy in Jerusalem and graduated with honors from the master’s program in opera at Brooklyn College.
- Michael Lewis, a baritone from Lewis, Pa., is a voice performance major at Ithaca College.
- Soprano Abigail Lindig from McKinney, Texas, is currently studying vocal performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
- Nikhil Navkal, a tenor from Andover, Mass., is currently working toward a master’s degree in music at Mannes College and holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance with a minor in Italian from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
- Gina Perregrino, a mezzo-soprano from Wilmington, Del., is currently a first-year scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music.
- Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Picker, originally from Albany, N.Y., recently received a master’s degree in music at Mannes College of Music and bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
- Baritone David John Pike from Kingston, Ontario, Canada, completed undergraduate studies at Concordia University and trained part-time at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and now privately with American bass Daniel Lewis Williams.
- Polish-Canadian mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sadej was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and is a graduate of Bard College.
- Soprano Ana Schwedhelm studied at the National Conservatoire in her hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, and attended the Royal Academy of Music.
- Soprano Rachel Sigman from Philadelphia, Pa., is currently a student at the Mannes School of Music.
- Mikki Sodergren, a mezzo-soprano from Red Wing, Minn., is an alumna of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
- Soprano Raquel Suarez, originally from Amerongen, The Netherlands, completed a master’s and professional studies degrees at Manhattan School of Music.
- Tenor Chase Taylor from Glen Burnie, Md., is currently pursuing a professional studies diploma in voice at Mannes College in New York. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina School for the Arts.
- Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Patricia Vásquez began voice training with the San Juan Children’s Choir, where she was a member for ten years and participated in concerts around the world.
- Soprano Julia Katherine Walsh from Temple, Pa., is a graduate of Westminster Choir College and received a master's degree from Hunter College.
Tickets are now available for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival. Concerts are $20 for adults and $10 for students and children under 18. Masterclasses are $5 for adults and $3 for students and children under 18. Passports for the entire festival are available at a 20 percent discount for $170 for adults and $90 for students and children under 18.
Media sponsors for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival are WDBJ7 and Virginia Living Magazine.