ROCHESTER, N.Y. – APRIL 30, 2018 – Five thrilling voices emerged as rising stars in the Rochester Oratorio Society’s 12th annual Rochester International Vocal Competition final round, held before a live audience at Temple B’rith Kodesh on April 28.
First Prize and the Audience Favorite went to Jorell Williams, of New York, whose rendition of “Every Ranch Hand,” by Carlisle Floyd, left the capacity audience breathless. A baritone, Mr. Williams is an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, and top prize-winner in numerous national-level competitions. He begins rehearsals at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in early May for a production opening in 2019.
Taking Second Prize was soprano Christine Lyons, of Montclair, N.J., whose performance of a Verdi opera was “the model of legato singing,” according to panelist, Constance Fee, Professor of Voice, Opera and Diction at Roberts Wesleyan College and a long-time judge for the Rochester International Vocal Competition. Lyons studied at Peabody Institute and Carnegie Mellon University and completed further studies at the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg. Experienced in theater as well as opera, she was recently seen in season 5 of the Netflix production, “House of Cards.”
The Third Prize recipient was tenor Boris Van Druff, of Angelica, N.Y., who offered clarion high notes in Puccini’s famous “Nessun dorma.” Fourth Prize was shared by soprano Kelly Futterer, a student of Kathryn Cowdrick at the Eastman School of Music, and Tobias Greenhalgh, a Rochester native, whose early studies with Judith Ranaletta and Thomas Paul have led to a career of international distinction.
Judging the competition and offering entertaining, constructive commentary on each performance were Metropolitan Opera baritone Jonathan Beyer, nationally-active pianist and vocal coach, Joel Harder, and Fee, an internationally-experienced operatic soprano and vocal pedagogue. Oratorio Society Artistic Director Eric Townell, led the panel and adjudicated the preliminary round of 79 nationwide applicants, selecting 18 semi-finalists to compete in Rochester on April 27. The final round of nine contestants performed for an enthusiastic audience at Temple B’rith Kodesh, who voted for the Audience Favorite award.
About Rochester International Vocal Competition
The Rochester International Vocal Competition is widely regarded as an essential step to advanced careers in professional vocal performance. Proceeds from the annual gala event support the artistic and educational agenda of the Rochester Oratorio Society, which celebrated its 72nd successful season with this production. More information on the Rochester International Vocal Competition and the Rochester Oratorio Society may be found here.