Young Artists of Voice Competition begins


Music rang to the heavens Tuesday night during the first of three nights of the BYU Young Artists of Voice Competition.

The competition, which featured opera, will resume on Saturday evening in the Madsen Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m., where guest judges will decide who advances to the next stage.

Rashel Stapley, a junior from Falgstaff, Ariz., majoring in music, said her key to a successful performance was to stay calm.

“For this competition I have really focused on my technique and approach to the songs I will perform, and honestly, I have taken a fair amount of time to visualize and relax my nerves, as well as prayer,” Stapley said.

Lawrence Vincent, a professor of voice at BYU, is in charge of the competition this year. Vincent said the vocal department’s top 25 students are invited to participate every semester. The singers must be registered in voice lessons for that semester and must have taken at least three semesters of voice lessons at BYU.

On Tuesday, 15 students were chosen to advance to the second round, and on Thursday, eight finalists were chosen to compete on Saturday, when the top male and female singer will be chosen.

“They are given a small cash award that they’re supposed to use for their careers, their auditions, to buy music or something like that,” Vincent said.

On the wall outside of Vincent’s office is a plaque containing the names of all the winners of the annual BYU Young Artists of Voice Competition since 1997.

“You will see a couple names of people who have gone on to be national winners of the Metropolitan Opera Competition,” Lawrence said. “Many of those singers are professional singers now.”

Some of the competitors have similar plans for their futures in singing.

“After my schooling, I have plans to audition in Europe and perform overseas,” Stapley said. “I really would like to pursue a career in Austria or possibly Germany. The German language seems to call my attention more so than the more legato languages of French and Italian.”

The competition offers an opportunity for students to prepare for future auditions.

“The professional world of opera singing is very competitive,” Vincent said. “This is one of the best ways we, in the school of music, know how to simulate that kind of competition feeling.”

One of the competitors, Zach Wetzel, a junior from La Canada, Calif., majoring in vocal performance, said when he was a kid he would perform concerts for his family using his grandmother’s porch as a stage.

“Competitions are fun, but I enjoy competing mostly against myself and gauging improvement,” Wetzel said.

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