December 4, 2003

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Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY — Four gifted vocalists, all students at the Eastman School of Music, walked away winners in the third annual voice competition sponsored recently by the Friends of Eastman Opera (FEO) — a volunteer group that supports Eastman opera students, programs, and productions and promotes Eastman Opera Theatre in the Rochester community.

The competition, held November 22 in Kilbourn Hall, has grown quickly in stature and prominence. This year’s featured eight Eastman voice students who, upon final recommendation by Eastman’s voice faculty, each sang two prepared vocal works, vying for bragging rights and cash prizes totaling nearly $2,000. Christopher Hahn, artistic director of the Pittsburgh Opera, served as guest adjudicator.

Soprano Mari-Yan Pringle — a master’s student from Queens, NY, who studies with Eastman Professor of Voice Carol Webber — placed first in this year’s competition. She was awarded the first ever Lynne Clarke Vocal Prize (in the amount of $800), named in honor of the late wife of founding FEO board member John Clarke. Second prize ($500) went to doctoral student Ted Christopher, who studies with Professor Robert McIver, and third prize ($400) was awarded to master’s student Erin Snell, who studies with Professor Rita Shane. Soprano Sonia Rodriguez Bermejo, another master’s student of Carol Webber, received a prize for honorable mention ($200).

“The Friends of Eastman Opera is proud to provide these talented students with an opportunity to be heard by an adjudicator from a nationally known opera company — and to offer substantial cash prizes,” said Riki Connaughton, co-chair of the event and the FEO Board of Directors. “This type of opportunity enhances the students’ educational experience and validates their hard work.”


Note to editors: an electronic group photo of the competition winners is available