Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition vocal division winners left to right: Kelly Newberry, Naomi Merer, and Tyler Reece (photo courtesy of PASF)
UCSB graduate students took top prizes at the Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition, held on Sunday, April 29th at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (formerly known as the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort) in downtown Santa Barbara. In the vocal division, mezzo-soprano Kelly Newberry (student of Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian) took first place, soprano Naomi Merer (student of Dr. Linda Di Fiore) took second place, and baritone Tyler Reece (student of Dr. Linda Di Fiore) took third place. In the instrumental division, flutist Cynthia Vong (student of Professor Jill Felber) was awarded Honorable Mention. Sophomore Terra Giddens (soprano, student of Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian) received the Encouragement Award in the preliminary round.
Noted for her “luscious mezzo timbre” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer), Kelly Newberry is a first-year DMA student in the studio of Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian. This past summer, in collaboration with Emanuel Ax, Newberry premiered a song by John Harbison on a concert including performers such as Yo-Yo Ma and Pam Frank at Seiji Ozawa Hall as part of the Tanglewood Music Center. Under the direction of Dawn Upshaw and Nicholas Muni, Kelly starred as Jennie The Sealyham Terrier in a National Opera Association award-winning production of Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop!. Other roles in Kelly’s repertoire include Dorabella (Cosí fan tutte), Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Cendrillon (Cendrillon), and Charlotte (Werther). She will return to Tanglewood this summer to participate in the Vocal Arts Fellowship program.
Soprano Naomi Merer is in her third year as an MM/DMA student studying with Dr. Linda Di Fiore at UCSB, where she has previously been seen as Youth in Thomas Cipullo's After Life, Célie in Thomas Pasatieri's Signor Deluso, as well as in scenes from Les pêcheurs des perles (Leïla), Der Rosenkavalier (Sophie), and The Barber of Seville (Rosina). Naomi has performed with several ensembles around Santa Barbara, including as the soprano soloist in A Christmas Garland with the Santa Barbara Choral Society and orchestra, the chorus of Mozart’s Requiem with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, and several chorus roles with Opera Santa Barbara, including Lolette in La rondine, a Hen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Suor Osmina in Suor Angelica, as well as ensemble in Manon, Carmen, and Don Giovanni. Her accolades include winning second place in the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition (2017) and singing in a master class with Renée Fleming in the Lobero Theatre (2016).
Tyler Reece, baritone?, is in his final year as a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara under the tutelage of Dr. Linda Di Fiore. Tyler made his role debut as Count Almaviva in UCSB's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in February 2018. Other 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. In addition to his studies, he sings professionally at Old Mission Santa Barbara and with the Santa Barbara Choral Society. In accordance with his passion for education, he also serves as a Teaching Assistant to the Voice and Choral Areas at UCSB. Tyler recently won the Cal-Western Region for the 2018 NATSAA Competition, among other regional awards.
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.
Terra Giddens is a second year Bachelor of Music undergraduate in the voice department. She has been singing opera seriously since she was 16 and has participated in several state as well as national classical singing competitions. She is currently singing in the studio of Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, and has recently sung as a chorus member in Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Manon.
April 30, 2018 - 3:07pm