MSU Vocal Arts Take Top Honors

Voice students and productions recognized in high-profile competitions

Choosing to compete at the state, regional, and national levels is increasingly part of the program for vocal arts students at Michigan State University’s College of Music. That choice, faculty members say, can provide students with invaluable feedback, solid experience, and a chance for recognition by organizations at the top of the profession.

Schyler Sheltrown is among voice students who have experienced the challenge and benefits of high-level competition. The MSU senior recently took first place in the scholarship division at the 2013 vocal competition of the National Opera Association. Sheltrown, a soprano and student of Professor and Director of the MSU Opera Theatre Melanie Helton, competed with other students ages 19 to 23 in New York City.

Vocal students John Riesen and Steve Martin, both students of Professor Richard Fracker, also won top honors at the Metropolitan Opera Michigan District competition in Detroit and the Tennessee District in Nashville, respectively. Riesen and Martin competed with student and professional singers last fall, and will be moving on to regional competitions in early 2014.

“To have these and other students compete at such high levels says a great deal about the overall development of our programs,” says Vocal Arts Area Chair Rick Fracker. “There’s certainly no doubt that our college is continuing to attract talent and that our faculty and programs are providing experiences that will shape the personal and professional growth of our students.”

Fracker mentioned that several other vocal students have recently won various state and regional competitions, including those held by the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Recent opera productions, too, have been recognized in competitive arenas, including “A Little Night Music,” which took third prize in Division IV of the National Opera Association College Production competition. The opera, directed by Helton, featured student voice talent as well as the MSU Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kevin Noe.

“This clearly says we are strong and compare favorably to other programs on a national level,” says Fracker. “Competitions like these are a valuable way to receive comments and perspective on where we’re at and where we want to be.”

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