Zachary Mendez is a tenor, photographer, and arts administrator based in Santa Barbara California. A native of Dallas, he moved to Santa Barbara in 2015 to begin his graduate work at UCSB. He is currently a Masters candidate in Voice Performance and Opera in Dr. Linda Di Fiore’s studio on a full fellowship and stipend. He will be graduating with his Masters of Music in June, 2018. Upon graduation, Zach will continue working as the Office Administrator at Opera Santa Barbara.
Alexandria Jackson is a student pursuing a BM in voice under the tutelage of Dr.Linda DiFiore at UCSB. Within her few years of study Alexandria has won the following competitions: New Century Singers Whittier, Mu Phi Epsilon (second place), National Association for Negro Musicians: Regional (second place), and The National Liszt Competition (third). Ms. Jackson’s goal is to become an opera singer, spreading her love of music to audiences all over the world.
Christy Lee Peterson
Christy Lee Peterson (soprano) is a Salt Lake City native. She graduated with her Vocal Performance B.A. from Westminster College in 2015 where she was honored as the Top Graduate and has since been traveling and performing internationally. She is a current student in the studio of Dr. Linda DiFiore and she is beyond thrilled to be starting her graduate studies this fall at University of California Santa Barbara. Some of Christy’s previous roles include Susanna from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Clara Johnson in Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza, Lisette from Puccini’s La Rondine, and the title role from Handel’s Semele.
2017 Scholarship Winners
Kali Hardwick studies vocal performance at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, where she will be honored as the Outstanding Graduate of the College of the Arts when she graduates this May. Kali has performed in numerous productions and has won numerous awards including the New Century Singers Scholarship and the Fine Arts Affiliates Scholarship at CSU Long Beach. She is currently preparing for the role of Ensoleillad in Massenet’s Cherubin and as a soloist for Mendelssohn’s Elijah. She was a featured soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. When the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir competed in Wales and won the title “Choir of the World”, Kali fell in love with Britain. She is very excited to begin her graduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London this fall.
Niko Murakami, soprano, is a sophomore vocal performance major at Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University Long Beach and is studying classical voice with Shigemi Matsumoto. This is her second year with the BCCM Opera Institute. This past fall, Niko starred in Opera Scenes performing Peep-Bo and Yum Yum from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. She also performed as Susanna from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She is currently a member of the Conservatory’s University Choir under the direction of Joshua Palkki. Prior to attending the Conservatory, Niko sang with the South Bay Children’s Choir of El Camino College for eight years under the direction of its artistic director and conductor, Diane Simons.
Elizabeth Queen, who lives locally, is a graduate of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music (BCCM). She is a coloratura soprano and her previous roles are many. She has sung in the BCCM scenes program under the direction of David Anglin, performing scenes from operas such as Cosi di Tutte, Der Freichutz, Alcina and L’eliser d’amore. In spring 2016, she premiered an original composition as the soprano soloist in Vasken Ohanian’s Recollections of the Forgotten. She has recently participated in Opera Works Emerging Artist Program, working with Eli Villanueva, and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. This summer, Elizabeth will be reprising the role of Konigin der Nacht at the Berlin Opera Academy in Berlin, Germany. She currently studies with Gail Gordon.
2017 Honorable Mention
Avery Roberts, tenor, was ten years old when he was invited to join the children’s chorus for Esa Pekka Salonen’s performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl, in Salonen’s final season as Music Director of the L.A. Phil. As a boy soprano, he sang “Carmen” with the LA Opera and recorded Nico Muhly’s “A Good Understanding” with the LA Master Chorale. In 2010, Avery wowed Disney Hall audiences with his poise and power in George Crumb’s “Ancient Voices of Children”. While in high school, Avery was awarded a chance to compose for the Pasadena Master Chorale in their inaugural “Voices of the Future” program. He performed the world premiere solo in Kirchner’s “Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes” while being mentored by Cal State Long Beach’s Steven Kronauer. Now in his freshmen year at Chapman University, Avery is drawn to vocal music old and new. He continues to compose and arrange but has devoted himself to further discovering his voice with Patrick Goeser (past president, LA Chapter of National Association of Teachers of Singing) whose students perform regularly in the world’s leading opera houses. Avery is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis on vocal performance.
Emma Ujifusa, soprano, is currently a freshman and Music Education major at Pepperdine University. She has been singing in choirs since she was in the second grade at her church and throughout her schooling. Emma participated in SCVA honor choir and the All State Honor Choir during her junior year in high school. Her love of singing is as strong as her desire to educate. After college, she hopes to pursue a career as an educator at the high school level and hopefully, one day, at a collegiate level.
2016 Scholarship Winners
A winner of the San Diego District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, baritone Nicholas Newton is garnering due attention as an up-and-coming baritone in the opera world. Growing up in a musical household, Mr. Newton has pursued his passion for singing through Gospel, Jazz, Musical Theater, and now operatic performance. Hailed for his “polished vocal technique and heart-tugging emotional communication,” by the San Diego Story, Mr. Newton most recently performed the baritone solos in Maurice Duruflé's "Requiem" with San Diego Master Chorale. He has also performed Gershwin’s "Catfish Row" with the San Diego Winds and has been heard as Aeneas in Purcell’s "Dido and Aeneas," as Amelia’s Husband in Menotti’s "Amelia Goes to the Ball," the Bishop/Montparnasse in Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical "Les Misérables" at San Diego State University and Balthazar in Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with The Village Church Community Theater. He is an active member of San Diego Opera’s Opera Exposed! program as a featured soloist in community outreach concerts and public master classes with company principal artists. Mr. Newton is a Senior at San Diego State University where he is a student of Laurinda Nikkel.
Soprano Lisa Parente has been performing since age 8 and continues to flourish as a soloist. She is in her final year at San Diego State University where she is completing her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance, studying under Laurinda Nikkel. Ms. Parente started with a musical theater background, but was drawn to classical singing. She has found a way to incorporate her love of theater and classical voice, by pursuing a career in opera. Lisa has performed with San Diego State University’s Opera Theater in roles such as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, and Maid in Amelia Goes to the Ball. Lisa is currently a vocalist in San Diego Opera’s Opera Exposed! She has also performed in other opera programs, such as Si Parla Si Canta and OperaWorks. In addition to opera, Lisa performs in other solo settings. She has been featured as a soloist in Poulenc’s Gloria, Stephen Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn and the soprano soloist in Faure’s Requiem, both with the San Diego State University orchestra. She was awarded Honorable Mention in the La Jolla Young Artist Competition in 2016, placed second in her division of the 2014 San Diego NATS competition, and is the Cantor for St. Martin of Tours in La Mesa, CA. She will be attending Graduate School in the fall to pursue a Master’s in Vocal Performance.
Julia Taylor is a San-Diego based soprano who specializes in performing opera and musical theatre. She graduated from Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music in 2012 with the distinct honor of performing the University's Alma Mater at the 2012 Commencement Ceremony, for over 20,000 people. She competes regularly around Southern California and most recently took Second Place in the 2015 Regional NATS competition, and was a Semifinalist in the 2015 Musical Merit Competition of San Diego, and is thrilled to have received one of the 2016 CFC Scholarships. She regularly sings with Point Loma Opera Theatre and Bodhi Tree Concerts and also performs in many choral ensembles in San Diego, such as the San Diego Master Chorale and the San Diego Pro Arte Voices. She currently studies with Dr. Craig Johnson, coaches with Michael Sokol, and teaches voice and piano lessons at A Dawn of Music Studios.
2016 Honorable Mention
Megan Winslow, Derek Legg, and Rachel Rothman each received a $500 award from the estate of an anonymous donor.
2015 Scholarship Winners
Tenor Adam Bradley is pursuing the MM in Vocal Performance on a full tuition scholarship at UCSB. He is a graduate of Luther College, where he performed the roles of Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte and Pluto in Orpheus in the Underworld. Adam was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the Amalfi Coast Music Festival where he sang the roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio in Le Noze di Figaro and participated in the scenes program as Nemorino in l'elisir d'amore and Rodolfo in La boheme. This past summer, Adam attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria where he performed selections from Messiah and Ariadne auf Naxos with the AIMS Orchestra. Other roles include Pirelli in Sweeney Todd and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at the University of North Texas. This season, he is playing the role of Sebastian in UCSB's production of Joel Feigen's Twelfth Night and singing in the chorus of Opera Santa Barbara's production of L'italiana in Algeri. His teachers include David Judisch (Luther college) and Linda Di Fiore (University of North Texas and UCSB).
Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, mezzo-soprano, is a first year Master of Music candidate in Vocal Performance at UCLA, where she studies with Michael Dean. Most recently she has appeared in the role of the Contessa in UCLA's west coast premier production of Mercadante's The Two Figaros. Next, she will be singing in the UCLA performances of Bastiannello by John Musto and Lucrezia by William Bolcom. Joanna received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston University in 2013, where she studied with Jim Demier. Recent awards include a 2014 vocal award from the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation in Santa Barbara, the 2014 Nathan Rundlett Vocal Scholarship Award from the Santa Barbara Music Club, the Ellalou Dimmock Award her junior year at Boston University, and the Harold Heiberg Liedersanger Preis while attending the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria the summer of 2012. Joanna grew up singing, dancing and acting in Santa Barbara both in school and around the community. She began studying classical vocal technique at age fourteen with Agatha Carubia, who continues to teach and inspire her. Joanna also enjoys swing dancing, salsa and Argentine tango.
Tyler Reece, baritone, is a first year MM/DMA student at UCSB. He grew up in the Aspen valley of Colorado, where he discovered his love of music before pursuing his Bachelor's Degree at Luther college in Decorah, Iowa with Dr. David Judish. At Luther, Tyler performed the role of Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and John Styx in Offenbach's comic operetta Orpheus in the Underworld. Tyler then spent a year at the University of North texas, where he worked under the tutelage of Dr. Linda Di Fiore and sang small roles in Massenet's Cendrillon, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Tyler recently sang the role of Malvolio in the West Coast premiere of UCSB composer Joel Feigin's operatic setting of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In addition to his studies, Tyler sings professionally with local churches, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and Opera Santa Barbara. He also serves as a Teaching Assistant to the Voice Department at UCSB.
2014 Scholarship Winners
Anthony Whitson-Martini has sung roles with Point Loma Opera Theatre, Center Stage Opera, Opera Academy of California, and Lyric Opera of San Diego. Mr. Martini's recent accomplishments are from the Lotte Lenya Competition (Encouragement Award), La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Competition (1st Place), NATS, San Diego (1st Place), Musical Merit of San Diego Competition (Finalist), & Burbank Philharmonic Competition (Finalist). Anthony is looking forward to performing as a Company Artist for Utah Festival of Opera & Musical Theatre this summer, covering the roles of Marius in Les Misérables , Lucas & Lutz in The Student Prince; & performing the role of Montparnasse in Les Misérables . Mr. Martini can also be seen as Marullo in Pacific Lyric Opera's production of Rigoletto in the fall.
Gianna Halpin is nineteen years old and currently a sophomore at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. At the Conservatory, she has been studying with Cesar Ulloa. Her previous voice teacher was Stephen Grimm, with whom she studied for five years. Throughout her life, Gianna has been very involved with music. At age four she started singing in a children's choir; in high school she sang in her high school choir and in Pasadena Pro Music. She also performed in many musical productions at St. Francis High School, directed my Emmanuel Eulalia. Her Junior and Senior years of high school she directed her school's (St. Monica Academy) Schola. Although Gianna is studying vocal performance, in the future she hopes to focus on Music Therapy. She would like to thank the California Women's Chorus for this opportunity
2013 Scholarship Winners
Coloratura Soprano Rachel Koons studied Vocal performance at Chapman University and Opera Studio Program, AIMS in Graz, Austria. She has performance experience with the Pacific Symphony and Chapman University where she performed in the chorus and as a dancer in Die Fledermaus and La Traviata. She also appeared in Hansel and Gretel and Falstaff.
Kristi James, soprano, has appeared as a soloist with Cal State University Fullerton in several operas, Pacific Symphony in A Concert in the Park and Cal Voce Productions in John Williams: Maestro of the Movies and two Andrea Bocelli Christmas Concerts. She has been awarded five vocal scholarships since 2008. Kristi received a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Master class with Frederica Von Stade from CSUF.
Moises Salazar, tenor, an Applied Voice Music student at Fullerton College is working on his Bachelors of Music degree in Vocal Performance. He sang in full opera performances with live orchestras while in high school and now in college. He has appeared in Gianni Schicci (Puccini) Rinuccio and H.M.S. Pinafore in Fullerton College and Orange Coast College and in several productions while at Santa Ana High School. Moises, a guitar player, has performed with the Trio Los Salazar for 13 years.
Receiving Honorable Mention were Marilyn Eteaki, Karina Parker, Amelia Tobiason, Ashley Stanbury and Danielle Palomares.
2012 Scholarship Winners
Anush Avetisyan, soprano, is currently a Senior at UCLA in Vocal Performance where she is a student of Vladimir Chernov. Avetisyan has most recently been heard in UCLA’s Opera Gala singing the role of Amelia in excerpts from Simon Boccanegra and the role of Leonora in an excerpt from La forza del destino under the baton of Maestro Donald Neuen. She created the role of Alice B. Toklas in the world premiere of a new chamber version of Jonathan Sheffer’s Blood on the Dining Room Floor with text by Gertrude Stein and is featured in a professional recording soon to be released with Sheffer conducting. She has sung in Bach cantatas under Maestro Neuen and, as a freshman at UCLA, sang the role of Barbarina in UCLA’s production of Le nozze di Figaro directed by Peter Kazaras. Now as a senior, she will sing the lead role of Eurydice in Opera UCLA's 2012 winter production of Offenbach 's Orpheus in the Underworld and the lead role of Poppea in Opera UCLA’s 2012 spring production of L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Avetisyan recently won First Prize at the Palm Springs Opera Competition and is currently one of two finalists in the ongoing 2012 Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition.
Meagan Martin, mezzo-soprano, made her operatic debut in the children’s chorus of La Bohème when she was seven. She completed her B.A. in German at UCLA in March at the age of 20, graduating summa cum laude, and also devotes much of her time to the study of Italian, Spanish, French and Russian. She has been a frequent participant in Santa Monica College’s Opera Workshop Program, where she appeared in highlights from Xerxes (Arsamene), Mignon (Mignon), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina), and Hansel and Gretel (Sandman), and she was also an outreach performer with the Applied Music Program. Upcoming singing commitments include the role of Despina in SMC’s production of Così fan tutte at The Broad Stage in May and a return to SongFest as a merit scholarship recipient in June. Last summer at the prestigious vocal program she performed in master classes led by artists including Jake Heggie, Martin Katz and Roger Vignoles. She currently studies voice with Renee Sousa and counts Susanna Lemberskaya as her principal vocal coach of the past two years.
Brian Vu, baritone, is currently a senior at UCLA in Vocal Performance where he is a student of Michael Dean. Vu has worked with directors Peter Kazaras and James Darrah and participated in past Opera UCLA’s productions of Dialogues of the Carmelites (Chaplain), Giasone (Hercules) and Flight (Minskman). This year he performed the role of Mercury in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and will perform Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. In addition to his operatic work, Brian was a singer and soloist for the Crystal Cathedral Choir, conducted and directed by Donald Neuen. His performance with the Cathedral Choir of I Walk with God was internationally televised on the Hour of Power. Last summer Brian participated in Marlena Malas’ vocal program at the Chautauqua Institute of Music. He will participate in the Studio Artist program at the Wolf Trap Opera Company this summer.
2011 Scholarship Winners
Benjamin Cortez, tenor, is currently a senior at USC's Thornton School of Music, studying with Elizabeth Hynes. Roles he has performed include Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera with the Oberlin in Italy program, Monostatos in Die Zauberflote at La Sierra University, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Mayor Upfold in Albert Herring at USC, King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and Bill in A Hand of Bridge with the Chamber Opera of USC, and Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro at Aspen Opera Theatre Center. Roles covered include Antonio in Das Liebesverbot and Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, which was performed in concert version at USC. He had done chorus work at AOTC and USC and performed in opera scenes productions for AOTC, USC Opera and USC Chamber Opera. He is currently auditioning for Masters programs in vocal arts and opera.
Emma-Grace Dunbar, soprano, was most recently seen as Nella in the USC Thornton production of Gianni Schicchi and as Sally in Die Fledermaus with Center Stage Opera. This summer, she will be performing the role of Servilia in the BASOTI production of La Clemenza di Tito in San Francisco. Emma was a finalist in the 2011 Burbank Orchestra Young Artists Competition and has won the Richard Carpenter Scholarship Competition and the 2006, 2007 and 2009 NATS Festival of Singing. She has also been active in the Once Upon an Opera outreach program in Los Angeles, playing Bo Peep in The Kid Who Cried Wolf. She was a participant in both the CoOperative and Opera Works summer training programs. Emma received her Bachelor's Degree in Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. Roles while a student at Westminster include Soeur Martha in Les Dialogues des Carmelites, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Queen Angelica in Orlando, and Gretel in Hansel & Gretel. Emma is now pursuing her Masters at the USC Thornton School of Music.
Soprano Juhye Kim, a native of South Korea, graduated from Seoul
National University, South Korea, where she earned a B.M. in vocal
arts. She is now in a Graduate Certificate program in vocal arts
at the USC Thornton School of Music studying with Professor
Elizabeth Hynes, as a recipient of a USC Music Student Merit
Scholarship award. Miss Kim has performed in the Seoul City Opera
in South Korea, singing some of opera's demanding roles such as
Violetta in La Traviata, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She performed
Lauretta in Gianni Schichi in the USC Thornton Opera. She has also
appeared with orchestras and choral societies as a featured guest
singer and a soloist.
Victoria, a dramatic Mezzo Soprano made her operatic debut at the
age of 12 as a gingerbread cookie in Hansel und Gretel. She later
studied music in Pennsylvania and Colorado. She has studied in
Pennsylvania, Colorado and California. During her time at the
Lamont School of Music in Denver she learned the roles of
Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte, and the Third Lady in Mozaart's Magic
Flute, which she covered at the Tuscia Opera Festival in Viterbo,
Italy. In 2009 she performed the title role in Bizet's Carmen.
Victoria is currently pursuing her Masters Degree, and this season
performed the role of Zita in the production of Gianni Schicchi at
USC. Ms Fox believes that the character leads the voice to create
great opera. Because of this she considers herself a constant
student of acting. She is a devoted fan of Shakespeare and has
performed the roles of Lady Macbeth and Juliet.
Tim Williamson is 19 years old and moved to California from Maine
two years ago to further his music education. He currently attends
Pitzer college, a member of the Claremont College Consortium,
which allows him to study voice under Dr. Anne Harley at Scripps
college. Tim enjoys being a performer both on stage and in the
studio. He has appeared in many musical theater productions
including Bye Bye Birdie (Harry Macafee), Sweeny Todd (Judge
Turpin), Bugsy Malone (Fat Sam), as well as debuted the role of
Angel in the state of Maine's first two productions of Rent: The
School Edition. He has also particpated in All-State honor choirs
under the direction of Dr. Jerry Blackstone (University of
Michigan) as well as Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (Sweet Honey in the Rock).
In 2009, he received a scholarship from the Cape Elizabeth Music
Boosters for his dedication to both music education and stage
performance. One day he hopes for a future career as a children's
theater director and will use his boundless enthusiasm to foster
the musical growth of children of the next generation.
2010 Scholarship Winners
Duane Williams is professionally trained in classical music, music theatre, drama and television. Some of his many works include performances in Show Boat, Othello, Paliachi, Tosca, Secret Garden, Hell Is a Place and Les Miserables. He is assistant Director of Trinity Arts, Minister of Music First Church of Christ Scientist Costa Mesa, and a member of the musical group Mother and Sons. Accomplishments include first place in Musical Theatrical Cal State Fullerton, first place in Classical Music Cal State Fullerton, second place in Classical Music Cal State Fullerton, second place in Musical Theatrical Cal State Fullerton as well as second place Music of Corona competition.
Shabnam Kalbasi, mezzo-soprano, is currently finishing up her final year at the University of California Irvine as an undergraduate in Music Vocal Performance. Having begun her musical studies at a young age with piano, her passion for vocal performance blossomed in high school with her involvement with choir and private lessons. At UC Irvine, Shabnam studies with Dr. Darryl Taylor. She made her operatic debut as "Mrs. Nolan" in UCI Opera's production of The Meduim. This past summer, she played "Marcellina" in the Amalfi Coast Music Festival's production of Le Nozze di Figaro. Shabnam was the first place recipient of the Intimate Opera Company senior level vocal competition in fall 2009. She has applied and auditioned for graduate schools and intends to continue her studies at the graduate level in the autumn of 2010.
Danielle Evans is a senior Vocal Performance
major at Biola University and has been studying with Susan Ali for
over two years. This will be her third year in opera workshop, and
last year she played the lead role of the Countess in Mozart's
Marriage of Figaro. She has also had the opportunity to solo with
Biola's symphony orchestra for Prism and Concerto. She has
participated in Songfest, which is a three-week vocal summer
program, where she played the role of Madame Butterfly in the
opera scenes program. Danielle has placed first in graduate level
Intimate opera company, first place in The New Century Singers
scholarship competition and has been a finalist in the American
Educators of Italian Origins United competition.
2009 Scholarship Winners
Victoria Lund -
Victoria Lund, First Place Winner, was born in Los Angeles where
she began her musical training studying piano and singing in her
church choir. She specialized in Japanese and Voice at Emory
University and completed her Bachelor of Arts at the University of
San Diego, where she was awarded the Anne Catherine Swanke
Scholarship for vocal performance in 2007. She is currently
working towards her Master of Music degree at San Diego State
University under the instruction of soprano Laurinda Nikkel. She
made her operatic debut this year in SDSU's production of Die
Fledermaus and has participated in Master Classes with David
Gordon (Bach Carmel Festival), Gregory Buchalter (Metropolitan
Opera) and Geraldine Zeller (Musikhochschule Hamburg. Victoria
will be continuing her studies this summer at the International
Lyric Academy in Rome, Italy.
Raechele Hans -
Raechele Hans, Second Place Winner, is finishing her first years as a Vocal Performance Major at San Diego State University under the guidance of Enrique Toral, and hopes for a career in opera. During high school, she received vocal instruction from European teacher Pandeli Lazaridi and also trained with the San Diego Opera in their Summer Intensive Program. Raechele took 1st place in both Temecula Valley and the RB Chorale scholarship competitions and 2nd place at the CIYAC and San Diego NATS competitions. Her most recent stage credits include Die Fledermaus (SDSU), La Rondine (Lyric Opera San Diego), West Side Story (Maria), Les Miserables, and Cinderella (Step Sister).
Elisa Rose Jordan -
Elisa Rose Jordan, Third Place Winner, daughter of a musician, has been surrounded by singing since birth. Living in Japan and traveling has exposed her to diverse cultures and has given her a broad appreciation for various styles of music. Elisa is currently in her second year at Point Loma Nazarene University where she is pursuing a B.A. in Music and a minor in Business Administration, studying voice with Dr. John Craig Johnson. She has sung in PLNU's production of Amahl and the Night Visitors and in the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflote. Elisa has also performed as a soloist in PLNU's Messiah and in the Torrey Pines Christian Church concert series of C.P.E Bach's Magnificat and Respighi's Laud to the Nativity. She will sing in the San Diego Opera chorus in Madam Butterfly and as a soloist in Faure's Requiem at TPCC. This summer she will participate in the apprenticeship program of SongFest.
2008 Scholarship Winners
Amy Joy Choate -
Amy Joy Choate is the first place winner of the California Women's Chorus Award awards for 2008. Amy is presently a student at Murrieta Valley High School and hopes one day to become a vocal performer on stage and also in the recording studio. She has appeared in the high school production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Damn Yankees, Les Miserables, and The Pirates of Penzance. Amy is planning on attending a music conservatory upon her graduation from high school. She is currently teaching voice and piano to two students and is currently the student director and soprano section leader for the music program at MVHS. She placed first in the Temecula Valley vocal competition, first in the southern California Rotary Competition, and received an honorable mention in the Los Angeles Spotlight awards.
Katherine Ascani -
Katherine Ascani is a freshman at Chapman Conservatory and maintains a 4.0 GPA while participating in the Opera and Choral departments. She was awarded a scholarship from Chapman Conservatory for her outstanding vocal and academic talent and currently studies with Margaret Dehning. She was selected as a soloist for the University Choir Fall concert. As a member of Chapman's Opera Program, she is currently playing the role of the Badessa in Suor Angelica. Katherine participated in the 2007 Aspen Music Festival as part of her awards as the runner-up winner of the 2006 Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards in the Classical Division. While at Aspen, Katherine participated in opera scenes from Turn of the Screw, Dead Man Walking, and A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as chorus parts in Carmen and Madame Butterfly. Katherine has performed extensively in the Temecula area including the Mayor's Ball in 2005. She lives in Murrieta. She is being awarded second prize in the California Women's Chorus Audition.
Clarissa Shan -
Clarissa Shan is a senior at the University of Redlands presently applying for graduate studies at California State University in Northridge. Educationally, she hopes to obtain a Masters and a doctorate in performance. Her ultimate goal is to perform professionally. She won first place in the Young Artist competition at the Redlands Bowl, participated in the Young Artists competition at the Intimate Opera competition and spent a summer studying in Rome in their summer opera program. Clarissa is the recipient of the third place award. Clarissa is in much demand and has sung throughout southern California including Los Angeles.
Devon White -
Devon White is the recipient of an honorable mention award. She currently attends John W. North High School. Devon is 18 years old. She has been studying voice for the past six months and is currently a member of the chamber singers at North High School. She placed first in the semi finals at the Rotary Competition. Devon has tried out for American Idol in seasons six and seven. Every Sunday evening she sings with the Moreno Valley Choir club.
Benjamin Cardullo -
Benjamin Cardullo is currently a senior at Riverside Poly High School. Ben has been active in theatre and music for many years. He participated for eight years in Riverside Children's Theatre, and for the past four years has been a member of Riverside Poly's Chamber Singers. He was selected to participate in the Western Divisional Honor Choir (2008), the Southern California Honor Choir (2006-2007), and has studied voice for two years withy Phyllis Eddelman. He has achieved a Certificate of Merit level 7 in voice and plays piano. In other areas, Ben has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church. He plans to study voice in college. Ben is a recipient of an Honorable Mention award from the California Women's Chorus.
Geneil Perkins -
Geneil Perkins fell in love with musical theatre when her grandmother took her to Los Angeles to see "Show Boat". She began singing in musicals when she was in elementary school. She has sung in Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Godspell, Little Shop of Horrors, Fiddler on the Roof, and Pirates of Penzance. Geneil also plays flute, clarinet, and baritone saxophone in the band. As a freshman she was accepted into the Madrigal Choir and earned 4 letters. As a senior she was voted the "Most Outstanding Vocalist". Geneil , recipient of an Honorable Mention award, is presently a student at Southern Utah University and has been accepted into the vocal performance program. One day she hopes to perform on Broadway.
2007 Award Winners
Rafe Kossak - First Place
A California native born in Torrance, our first place winner grew up in Lake Forest in Orange County before settling in Vacaville when he was 15. The three octave singer honed his skills touring Canada and Hawaii for competitions with the award-winning Sylvan Singers at Will C. Wood High School. Now 21, he is majoring in musical theater at Solano Community College and studies with Connie Lisec. His range allows him to sing all genres from Sinatra to rock to rap, which he did for the college's recent production of "Bat Boy." A soccer player and accomplished cook, he will follow his ambition to pursue a career in opera next year by auditioning for the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.
"I want to prove to people you can overcome tremendous odds
and traumatic events to do what you want to do and be the person
you want to be."
Nicole Owens - Second Place
Life has taken on a new direction for this 22-year-old, who took her first musical theater class last year as part of her Actor Training Program at Solano College. Instructor Connie Lisec changed her life by telling her she could sing. "Before that, I'd only sung in the shower and I loved rock," she says, "but she told me I was the only natural born jazz singer she'd ever taught." Born in Georgia, Owens just moved to Vacaville, where she plans to use her contralto in SCC's production of "Smoky Joe's Café" next spring and continue her theater studies in dance and music. A writer, she graduated from Buckingham Charter High School in Vacaville where she studied film. Now her sights are on Broadway.
"I am really excited about this Award, it gave me the
encouragement I needed to pursue my new goals in music. I am so
grateful for the opportunity it affords me to do that."
Heather George - Third Place
Vallejo-born George is just 18, but already well on her way to a career in music. A member of the VOENA choir for six years, she serves as assistant director and sang with the famed children's choir for President Bush and Maya Angelou at the White House Christmas concert in Washington D. C. Raised in Fairfield, she was in the Amy Blake Elementary School choir and Scarlet Brigade Marching Band at Fairfield High. The soprano has been taking voice lessons from Annabelle Marie and sings with the Solano Community College Chamber Choir with Helen Intintoli. She sings everything from opera to Celtic and will major in music next year at SCC. Her goal is to either perform or teach music, she loves both.
"Music is the one constant in my life and I am grateful to
be recognized by the California Women's Chorus by this Award to
help me pursue my career."
2006 Scholarship Winners
Janae Frank - First Place
Janae Frank, our first place Award winner is a graduate of Bakersfield High School where she was active not only in the Chamber Choir and Chorale but also served in many high school leadership positions, serving as Senior class vice-president and choir president, as well as participating in cheerleading, Bakersfield High School Executive Board. Ms. Frank was also Bakersfield's Junior Miss, Class of 2004, California Junior Miss, Miss Congeniality Award and a top 10 finalist in the California Junior Miss competition. As well as being an accomplished voc-alist, Ms. Frank has participated in Lenore Smith's Dance Arts Center for 13 years, featuring jazz and tap. The recipient of many awards for her talent and academic abilities, she is now attending Loyola Marymount University where she is a sophomore, pursuing her dream of a career in the theater arts, either musical theater or opera. She plans on pursuing her education and obtaining a Masters in Music Education or Music Therapy.
"Music has had an amazing impact on my life and I know that
is my calling. I hope to positively influence many others
through music, either in teaching or therapy. I can't wait to
share my love of music with the world!"
Diana Jelmini - Second Place
This year's second place Award winner, Diana Jelmini, is a graduate of Bakersfield High School where she was active in the music programs, including Chamber Choir. She participated in many school productions, choir concerts, as well as in Bakersfield Music Theater productions during her high school years. Ms. Jelmini haas been studying voice for nine years, three years of classical voice training with Darrell Cates, and the past four years studying voice with Margaret Cusack while a student at Westminster College where she is a senior and will graduate in May with a Bachelor's of Music. During her college career, she has performed in many productions, nine of which were with the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, MA this past summer. Included in her schedule are five day a week dance classes to round out her performance capability. After graduation, Ms. Jelmini will be attending Boston Conservatory where she will be continuing her specialized studies at the graduate level in musical theater.
"I'm excited to pursue my dream and career goal of
performing professionally. I have been well trained by the world
class professors at Westminster Choir College in piano, music
theory, and composition, and professional characteristics a
consummate artist must inhabit. I would like to thank the
California Women's Chorus for providing me the opportunity to
continue pursuing music by providing me with this generous
2005 Scholarship Winners
Tara Victoria Smith - First Place ($4000 Award Winner)
Tara, Coloratura Soprano, is currently pursuing her Master of Music degree in Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California, studying with Professor Cynthia Munzer. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree with concentration in performance, conducting, and composition from the University of Redlands, California in 2004. At Redlands, she studied with Professor Lois Vacariello. Miss Smith has been awarded music scholarships both at the University of Redlands and USC. Most recently, she performed in two opera scenes for USC Opera including Nixon in China and Die Swagsame Frau. Her most recent operatic role was Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She is currently studying the role of Adele in Die Fledermaus. Tara is also cast in The Rake's Progress this semester at USC, to be performed in April. Miss Smith plans on attending the International Vocal Institute in Hvar, Croatia and the Il Globo Italian School in Florence, Italy this summer. She looks forward to a career in classical vocal performance.
Jessica Rose Owen - Second Place ($3000 Award Winner)
Jessica is currently a graduate student of Vocal Arts at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, under the direction of Elizabeth Hynes. In May 2004, she graduated, with honors, from Rhode Island college, receiving her Baccalaureate degree in Vocal Performance. Jessica has performed in concert, as both a soloist and a chorister, in Canada, Italy, and the United States. Roles in both opera and scenes performances include Chorus in The Rake's Progress, Pat Nixon in Nixon in China, Lady with Cake Box in Postcard from Morocco, Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, Susanna and Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Lady Angela in Patience. In 2002, she was a participant in the V.O.I.C.Experience! With Sherrill Milnes and Friends in Walt Disney World, Florida, this summer, she will participate in the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Cheri Stark - Third Place ($1500 Award Winner)
"My goal as a singing actress is to get people excited about life and life expressed through art. Through sixteen years of voice lessons and performance experience in opera, musical theater and community theater in Fresno and Los Angeles, I have honed my skills as a vocalist and actress. My three years of undergraduate vocal arts studies at USC,s Thornton School of Music have broadened my musical understanding and ability to communicate with the exquisite beauty and emotion inherent in our culture's music and poetry. I recently had the honor to sing in the world premiere of Daron Hagen's opera Broken Pieces, produced by the Chamber Opera of USC. This summer I will be going abroad to Croatia and Italy to participate in a prestigious opera work and study the Italian language. Thank you for the opportunity to share my passion, for the recognition, and the monetary contribution to fund my summer endeavors."