UCSB students win top prizes in Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition

 
Winners of the 2017 Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition. From left to right: Leslie Cain (UCSB), 4th place Instrumental Division; Lalia Mangione, 2nd place Instrumental Division (Westmont College); Erik Fauss, 1st place Instrumental Division (Westmont College); Timothy Beccue, 3rd place Instrumental Division (Westmont College); Naomi Merer (UCSB), 2nd place Vocal Division; Tyler Reece (UCSB), 3rd place Vocal Division; Joanna Lynn Jacobs, 4th place Vocal Division (private student of Dr. Linda Di Fiore); Byron Mayes (UCSB), 1st place Vocal Division. Photo courtesy of the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation. 
 
Seven UCSB graduate students competed in the Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at the Fess Parker Resort in downtown Santa Barbara. Baritone Byron Mayes took first prize in the vocal division ($5,000), soprano Naomi Merer took second ($4,000), and baritone Tyler Reece took third ($2,500). Mr. Mayes and Ms. Merer are both MM/DMA students studying in the studio of Dr. Linda Di Fiore at UCSB, and Mr. Reece is a doctoral candidate studying with Dr. Di Fiore. Soprano Joanna Lynn Jacobs, who took fourth place ($1,000), is a private student of Dr. Linda Di Fiore. Soprano Carol Tsai, a Physical Chemistry Ph.D. candidate and MM student in the studio of Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, was awarded honorable mention ($500).
 
In the instrumental division, pianist Leslie Cain was awarded fourth place ($1,000), and cellist Karen Yeh and flutist Cynthia Vong were both awarded honorable mentions ($500 each). Ms. Cain is a doctoral candidate in the studio of Paul Berkowitz, Ms. Yeh is a doctoral candidate in the studio of Jennifer Kloetzel, and Ms. Vong is a masters student in the studio of Jill Felber.
 
Byron Mayes
 
Baritone Byron Mayes is currently a first year masters student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He completed his BM at Columbus State University in Georgia where he performed the roles of Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir D’amore, Bill Bobstay in Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, and Melchior in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. A Houston native, Byron spent two years performing with the Houston Grand Opera chorus and has recently joined the Opera Santa Barbara Chorus performing in their production of Bizet’s Carmen
 
Naomi Merer
 
Rising soprano Naomi Merer was born and raised in Ardsley, New York, a small town in the suburbs of New York City. Ms. Merer is currently a Masters candidate for voice and opera at University of California, Santa Barbara, studying with Dr. Linda Di Fiore. She has performed such roles as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte (Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival), Madame Herz in The Impresario, as well as numerous ensemble roles in other productions, including Dead Man Walking and The Grapes of Wrath (Northwestern University Opera Theatre). She received her Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, where she studied with Dr. Stephen Smith. A versatile artist, Ms. Merer has also starred in several of Northwestern’s musical theatre productions, portraying Lucy and the Street Singer in The Threepenny Opera and Linda in The Wedding Singer. She has also participated in several young artist programs, including Joan Dornemann’s program, IVAI in Montreal, Canada (2015), the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Maiori, Italy (2015), and AIMS in Graz, Austria (2014).
 
Tyler Reece
 
Tyler Reece, baritone, is an MM/DMA candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally from the Aspen Valley of Colorado, Tyler went on to earn his Bachelors Degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa studying with Dr. David Judisch. At Luther, he performed the roles of Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and John Styx in Offenbach's comic operetta Orpheus in the Underworld. For his graduate studies, Tyler has worked under the tutelage of Dr. Linda Di Fiore at both the University of North Texas and at UCSB. Recent operatic engagements include the title role of Pasatieri’s one act comedy Signor Deluso, Malvolio in the West Coast premiere of Joel Feigin’s setting of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and the leading role of Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy. Tyler is a winner of numerous awards sponsored through the National Association for Teachers of Singing, most notably the Gwendolyn Roberts Young Artist of the Year song recital competition. In addition to his academic studies, he sings professionally with All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and Opera Santa Barbara. In accordance with his passion for education, he also serves as a Teaching Assistant to the Voice Department at UCSB.
 
Carol Tsai
 
California-native Carol Tsai is a soprano in the studio of Isabel Bayrakdarian and a Physical Chemistry Ph.D. candidate in Glenn Fredrickson's research group at UC Santa Barbara. Carol earned B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Cum Laude from UC Irvine, but has been passionate about music since her childhood. Her early musical endeavors began with 9 years of piano and violin lessons and participating in various community and school orchestras. She has performed with a variety of musical ensembles, including the Pacific Chorale, the UCI University Choir, the UCI Symphony, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, UCI's Clair de Lune all-female a cappella group, and the Santa Barbara Mission Schola. In the 2015-2016 season, Carol performed as Lay Sister 1 in Opera Santa Barbara's production of Suor Angelica. Upcoming performances include singing in the opera choruses for Opera Santa Barbara's productions of Carmen and The Cunning Little Vixen in the 2016-2017 season.
 
Leslie Cain
 
Pianist Leslie Cain is a DMA candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studies with Paul Berkowitz and is a fellowship member of the Young Artist Piano Quartet.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the Manhattan School of Music as a student of André-Michel Schub. Leslie also holds a BA in Philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles, from which she graduated at age 18 as part of the school's Early Entrance Program. Leslie's numerous recognitions include first prizes in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, the MTNA Senior Piano Competition, and the Cypress College Piano Competition. In the spring of 2015, Leslie performed by invitation of the Weill Music Institute as part of the inaugural season of the Resnick Education Wing at Carnegie Hall, in an all-Debussy master class conducted by Richard Goode. She has also enjoyed lessons with Jeremy Denk, Gilbert Kalish, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, the Kronos Quartet, and the Danish String Quartet. Leslie's academic focus is the repertoire and cultural philosophy of fin de siècle France, especially the music and life of Maurice Ravel. Her current extracurricular obsessions include barre fitness, fashion magazines, Saab ownership, and trying to become more "outdoorsy."
 
Karen Yeh
 
Karen Yeh is an active cellist based in Los Angeles, California. She is currently studying with Jennifer Kloetzel as a DMA student at UCSB. She holds substitute positions with the New West Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She has appeared in masterclasses for such distinguished artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Colin Carr, Anner Bylsma, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Matt Haimovitz, and Janos Starker.
 
Cynthia Vong
 
Cynthia Vong, flutist, is a native of Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Pennsylvania State University where she studied with Dr. Naomi Seidman. During her time at Penn State, she earned the School of Music Performer’s Recognition Award and was a member of the top wind ensemble and orchestra. Ms. Vong has been a featured soloist with the Reading Symphony Orchestra and Ringgold Band and was invited to perform at the Annual National Flute Association Convention with the Penn State Flute Choir. She has also performed in master classes for artists such as Bonita Boyd, Amy Porter, Robert Dick, Jeffrey Khaner, Bart Feller, and many more. Ms. Vong is currently pursuing her MM in performance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studies with Jill Felber.
Winners of the 2017 Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition. From left to right: Leslie Cain (UCSB), 4th place Instrumental Division; Lalia Mangione, 2nd place Instrumental Division; Erik Fauss, 1st place Instrumental Division; Timothy Beccue, 3rd place Instrumental Division; Naomi Merer (UCSB), 2nd place Vocal Division; Tyler Reece (UCSB), 3rd place Vocal Division; Byron Mayes (UCSB), 1st place Vocal Division.