The Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program provides training, performance opportunities and access to industry connections and resources to a group of Opera’s talented rising stars. As one of the most competitive training programs in the nation, the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program has over 650 applicants annually for an average of 12-20 artist contracts. Our Emerging Artists appear in Virginia Opera mainstage productions, touring educational productions and perform in recitals, donor events and our Master Teacher Series. Recent alumni of the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program (formerly known as Spectrum Artists) include: David Pershall, Brian Jagde, Julia Ebner and Nathan Stark.
At this time, applications for the 2015-2016 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program are closed. For more information on how to apply for the 2016-2017 program, please check our website in the summer of 2016.
PLEASE BE AWARE: SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION DOES NOT GUARANTEE AN AUDITION.
Judges’ forms and comments are the sole property of Virginia Opera and will not be made available to applicants.
Congratulations to those singers who are granted auditions for the 2015-2016 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program. Artists must confirm their audition with Alexandra Stacey, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (757) 213-4541 no later than November 26, 2014.
To view your audition date and time, please open the Audition Listing Announcement.
Auditions for the 2015-2016 season will be held in New York City. Preliminary rounds will take place on December 8, 9 and 10, 2014; and the final round will take place on December 11, 2014. All candidates must be available to sing on one of the preliminary dates AND on the date of the final round. Virginia Opera will provide an accompanist. Guest accompanists are not permitted. Candidates should prepare five (5) arias. Your repertoire should include a variety of languages and styles.
Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading and comprimario roles and/or cover leading roles in the company's mainstage productions. Additionally, some Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading roles in fully-staged Education and Community Outreach productions that tour schools throughout the state of Virginia. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer artists the opportunity to perform standard arias and ensembles in concerts with piano. Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists are regularly re-engaged for main stage productions in future seasons.
Each participant receives regular coaching with members of Virginia Opera's Artistic Staff, which include Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades, Resident Conductor Adam Turner and various guest conductors, directors, and singers. Master classes are held throughout the season covering topics such as resume preparation, auditioning techniques, stagecraft and foreign languages.
Our program provides exceptionally talented emerging artists with a seasonal residency program that offers an extensive schedule of performing opportunities in the context of a professional training program. Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists receive weekly compensation, plus housing and transportation to Virginia.
Virginia Opera is committed to finding and training the outstanding artists of tomorrow. Those selected to participate in the program will be challenged and supported by an outstanding staff.
Apprentice Coaches must serve as musical directors and pianists for Education and Community Outreach productions. They also serve as coaches for the resident young artists, preparing them for their mainstage roles, cover roles, and concerts. Coaches learn the basics of artistic administration and company management by serving as tour managers, as well as providing coaching for the young artists' personal repertoire. Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as pianists for cover rehearsals.
Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as rehearsal pianists in several mainstage productions and serve as pianists for cover rehearsals. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer apprentice coaches the opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences.
Each participant receives coachings from Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades and Resident Conductor Adam Turner. Coaches will receive training and support from administrative staff to aid in tour management. The in-house artistic staff offers classes in resume preparation and auditioning techniques during the course of the season. Master classes are held with visiting stage directors and other distinguished guests throughout the season.
Apprentice coaches should have attained at least a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and have exceptional experience in vocal accompanying. Graduate work is strongly preferred. Individuals should be capable of managing artists on tour and overseeing non-artistic aspects of the Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program.
Please send your resume and a cover letter via e-mail to Alexandra.Stacey@vaopera.org. We would also welcome an MP3 or video of your playing.
For the audition, please prepare a Mozart finale and a 10-minute excerpt from a standard opera by Puccini, Verdi, Strauss or other romantic composers. You will also be asked to sing vocal lines in order to demonstrate your understanding of the integration between the vocal lines and the orchestra.
Alyssa Martin, mezzo-soprano
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Where I studied: B.M and M.M at Indiana University, Apprentice Artist at Des Moines Metro Opera, Gerdine Young Artist at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Apprentice Artist at Utah Festival Opera, Young Artist at Bay View Music Festival.
Performance History: Isolier (cover) in Le Comte Ory at Des Moines Metro Opera; Kate (cover) in Pirates of Penzance at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Siebel (cover) in Faust at Utah Festival Opera; Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Cendrillon in Cendrillon, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, all at Indiana University; Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte at Bay View Music Festival.
Awards: Grand Prize and Audience Favorite at Orpheus Vocal Competition (2014); Encouragement Award at Metropolitan National Council Auditions (2014); 1st Prize at Florida Grand Opera’s Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, (2013); 1st Prize and Audience Favorite at Dayton Opera Guild’s Tri-State College Vocal Competition (2012); 2nd Place at Utah Festival Opera Competition (2012); 2nd Place at Indianapolis Matinee Musicale (2012)
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Fall Educational tour of The Empress and the Nightingale, Page (cover) in Salome, and Flora (cover) in La traviata.
Andre Chiang, baritone
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Where I studied: University of South Alabama, Bachelor of Music; Manhattan School of Music, Master of Music; Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Shreveport Opera Resident Artist, Portland Opera Resident Artist, Glimmerglass Festival Young Artist, Virginia Opera Emerging Artist
Performance History: Le Dancaïre in Carmen, Second Priest in The Magic Flute with Virginia Opera; Lancelot in Camelot with The Glimmerglass Festival; Ford in Falstaff, Argante in Rinaldo, Maximilian in Candide, Young Galileo in Galileo Galilei with Portland Opera, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte with Washington-Idaho Symphony; El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Shreveport Opera
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year:
Benjamin Werley, tenor
Brian Mextorf, baritone
Hometown: Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Cody Martin, coach
Hometown: Mascoutah, IL
Where I studied: Murray State University (B.M.), Florida State University (M.M.)
Performance History: Suor Angelica (conductor), Three Decembers, and Soldier Songs at FSU; Albert Herring, Don Giovanni, Sister Carrie, Sweeney Todd, Falstaff, La tragédie de Carmen, The Merry Widow, and Speed Dating Tonight! at Janiec Opera Company; Into the Woods and Orphée aux enfers at Murray State University.
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Music director/pianist for outreach productions of The Empress and the Nightingale and The Princess and the Pea
Courtney Miller, mezzo-soprano
Hometown: Madison, WI
Where I studied: University of Michigan, Bachelor of Music; The Boston Conservatory, Master of Music, Professional Studies Certificate
Performance History: Meg Page in Falstaff, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos while covering the Composer, and Mercédès in Carmen (Virginia Opera); Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor and Maddalena in Rigoletto (Chautauqua Opera/Chautauqua Symphony); Suzuki cover in Madame Butterfly, and Elizabeth Griffiths cover in An American Tragedy (Glimmerglass Festival); Sister Helen in Dead Man Walking (Boston Opera Collaborative).
Awards: 2013 winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Young Artist Competition in Women’s Voice, First Place winner of the American Prize in Art Song in Women’s Voice, New England Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions (2010), and is a current Career Bridges Encouragement Grant recipient.
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Cousin Hebe in HMS Pinafore, Page in Salome, Flora in La Traviata, and covering the Beggar Woman while singing in the ensemble in Sweeney Todd.
Cullen Gandy, tenor
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Where I studied: The Juilliard School (MM 2012), Georgia State University (BMus 2010), Santa Fe Opera Apprentice 2013, Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice 2012.
Performance history: Young Messenger in A Streetcar Named Desire at LA Opera; Ixion and Orfée (cover) in La Descente d'Orfée aux Enfers at Gotham Chamber Opera; Fritz (cover) in La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein at The Santa Fe Opera; Vladimir Lenski (cover) in Eugene Onegin and Gobin in La Rondine at Des Moines Metro Opera; Edoardo Milfort in La Cambiale di Matrimonio, Gerardo in Gianni Schicchi, Soldato 1 and Lucano (cover) in L'incoronazione di Poppea at Juilliard Opera; Candide in Candide and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at Georgia State University Opera Theater.
Awards: Metropolitan Opera National Council Eastern Regional Finalist (2012)
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore, Gastone in La Traviata, Fourth Jew in Salome, and Pirelli (cover) in Sweeney Todd.
Katie Polit, soprano
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Johanna (cover) in Sweeney Todd, Josephine (cover) in H.M.S. Pinafore, Educational Tour of The Princess and the Pea
Keith Brown, bass-baritone
Hometown: Beavercreek, OH
Where I studied: University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music: Bachelor of Music, Master of Music; Sarasota Opera; Opera Saratoga
Performance history: Colline in "La Boheme" with Opera on the Avalon; Myles Brodrib in Howard Hanson's "Merry Mount" at Carnegie Hall with the Rochester Philharmonic; L'Émir de Ramla in Verdi's "Jérusalem" and Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Sarasota Opera; Ceprano in "Rigoletto" and Otis Burrows in "The Mighty Casey" with Opera Saratoga.
Awards: Leo M. Rogers Award for an Outstanding Apprentice Artist: Sarasota Opera, 2013
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: First Soldier in Salome, Doctor Grenville in La Traviata, Judge Turpin (cover) in Sweeney Todd, Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore
Martin Bakari, tenor
Hometown: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Matthew Scollin, bass-baritone
Hometown: Walled Lake, MI
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, 1st Nazarene in Salome, Marchese d'Obigny in La Traviata
Michael Kuhn, tenor
Hometown: Crofton, MD
Where I studied: Syracuse University, Bachelor of Music; New England Conservatory, Master of Music; Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Virginia Opera; Central City Opera
Performance History: Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at DC Public Opera; Scaramuccio (cover) in Ariadne auf Naxos at Virginia Opera; Bardolfo (cover) and Dr. Caius (cover) in Falstaff at Virginia Opera; Lover in Il tabarro at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Remendado in Carmen at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Tobias in Sweeney Todd at Syracuse Opera; Ferrando in Così fan tutte at Opera del West; Ernesto (cover) in Don Pasquale at Boston Midsummer Opera; Younger Son (cover) in The Prodigal Son at Intermezzo Chamber Opera; Tamino in The Magic Flute, Candide in Candide, Piquillo in La Périchole, Hot Biscuit Slim in Paul Bunyan at New England Conservatory.
Awards: Semifinalist, Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Competition
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Tobias (cover) and ensemble in Sweeney Todd; Second Nazarene and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Jews (cover) in Salome
Sarah Gilbert, soprano
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Where I studied: University of Colorado at Boulder, Bachelor of Music; McGill University, Master of Music
Performance History: Norina (cover) in Don Pasquale with American Landmark Festivals; Rose Maybud in Ruddigore with the Blue Hill Troupe; Sophie (cover) in Werther with Opera Company of Brooklyn; Patience in Patience with Utopia Opera; Despina in Così fan tutte with Vancouver Summer Opera Studio.
Awards: Eastern Region Finalist and 1st Alternate, NATS Artist Award; Finalist, Elaine Malbin Vocal Competition
Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Educational tour of The Empress and The Nightingale
Shannon Jennings, soprano
Where to find me at VA Opera this year: Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore
Trevor Martin, baritone
Hometown: Fayetteville, GA
Where I studied: Georgia Southern University, Bachelor of Music; University of Houston, Master of Music; Seagle Music Colony; Janiec Opera Company
Performance History: Masetto in Don Giovanni at Opera in the Heights; Marcello in La Bohème at Kingwood Summer Opera; Arthur in Camelot at Seagle Music Colony; Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Ford in Falstaff, Paul in Amelia, Chucho in Salsipuedes and Marullo in Rigoletto at Moores Opera Center; Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore, Marcello in La Bohème, and the Father in Hansel und Gretel with Janiec Opera Company.
Awards: Semi-Finalist in Dallas Opera Guild Competition (2013), 1st Place GA NATS Vocal Competition (2010, 2011)
Where to find me at VA Opera this year: Educational tour of The Empress and the Nightingale; Baron Douphol (cover) in La Traviata
Click for the Princess and the Pea Teacher Guide