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ISU Brings Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions to Pocatello!
The Department of Music at Idaho State University is honored to host the Metropolitan Opera National Council Eastern Washington/Idaho/Montana District Auditions on Saturday, October 29, 2011 in Jensen Grand Concert Hall of the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center. The Met's National Council Auditions are designed to provide visibility to promising young opera singers and to assist in the development of their careers. The auditions are held annually in fifteen regions of the United States and Canada. Within those regions are forty-five districts, each providing an opportunity for talented singers to audition at the local level. The Auditions are administered by National Council members and volunteers in each region.
Winners of the district auditions advance to their region finals where they compete to win a trip to New York to participate in the National Semi-Finals, a competition held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Approximately ten of the Semi-Finalists will be selected as National Finalists and will compete the following Sunday in a public concert, the Grand Finals Concert, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The jury will award up to five Grand Winner Awards of $15,000 each. The concert is broadcast nationwide on The Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. The remaining National Finalists will receive $5,000.00 each. Those singers who were National Semi-Finalists but did not advance to the National Finals will be given $1,500.00 to further their studies. Many of the world's foremost singers, among them Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, and Deborah Voigt received awards and now appear in Metropolitan Opera productions. Annually, approximately 100 former auditioners appear in Metropolitan Opera productions.
While the Northwest District Auditions in Pocatello cater mainly to participants from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, we hope in this inaugural year, to attract regional contestants from Oregon, Utah, Western Canada and Alaska. Winners from our district will advance to the Northwest Regional competition in January 2012 at The University of Washington in Seattle.
This is the first time a music competition of this magnitude has been hosted in Pocatello, and we are delighted that the Metropolitan Opera has granted us permission to host the district-level round. The auditions are open to the public, who may attend the all-day event for a nominal fee. Audience members are invited to participate in the judging by casting their votes for an "Audience Choice" award. If you are interested in donating time or money to support this competition and the young artists who will be singing, please contact Dr. Diana Livingston Friedley, EasternWashington/Idaho/Montana District Co-Chairman at 208-282-2611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Judges...
A shimmering soprano with enchanting stage presence, Heidi Grant Murphy is one of the outstanding vocal talents of her generation. She has appeared with many of the world's finest opera companies and symphony orchestras, notably the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Festival, Frankfurt Opera, Netherlands Opera, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Opera National de Paris and Santa Fe Opera. She has been engaged as soloist with the Vienna, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics; Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras; and Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Atlanta, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Houston, Montreal, National and Dallas Symphonies. Ms. Murphy has worked with such esteemed conductors as Roberto Abbado, Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Reinbert de Leeuw, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Jeffery Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Christoph Von Dohnányi, David Zinman, Bernard Haitink, Pinchas Zukerman and the late Robert Shaw.
Heidi Grant Murphy's latest recording, Lullabies & Nightsongs, based on the children's book illustrated by Maurice Sendak, was released in September 2009 on Koch International. With Maestro Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Ms. Murphy appears on a live recording of Mahler IV and a separate recording of Augusta Read Thomas's Gathering Paradise on New World. Other notable recordings of Heidi Grant Murphy include Roberto Sierra's Missa Latina with baritone Nathaniel Webster and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on Naxos, Hansel and Gretel (Gretel) with Andreas Delfs and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, an XM Satellite Radio compilation of Sondheim classics, five additional discs for Koch and recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Arabesque and Delos. She can also be heard on the Grammy-nominated Sweeney Todd (Johanna) for the New York Philharmonic's private label.
In August 2011, Heidi Grant Murphy was appointed to the faculty of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music as an adjunct professor of practice. She has been a featured guest on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, A&E's Breakfast with the Arts and BBC Radio 3. In October 2005, Ms. Murphy received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Western Washington University, where she pursued a bachelor's degree in music performance. Ms. Murphy resides in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband Kevin Murphy and their four children.
Mark Junkert joined Opera Idaho as Executive Director in 2008, coming from New York City and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; he was named General Director earlier this year.. In St. Paul, he was the managing director of Skylark Opera. Concurrently, he served as executive director of the Martina Arroyo Foundation, a New York-based organization dedicated to training young opera singers. Mark has also held executive and marketing director positions with The Collegiate Chorale in New York, The National Lutheran Choir in Minneapolis and Augsburg Fortress, a publisher in Minneapolis. A native of Minnesota, Mark studied voice and opera in the Graduate School of Music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, studying with William Warfield. He received a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Denver.
Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director
Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.