The Work of Several Voice Students and Opera Recognized

Vocal arts students shine in recent competitions, earn apprenticeships.

MSU Opera Theatre cast members perform “Cosí Fan Tutte,” fall 2014.

Awards, recognitions and apprenticeship offers from renowned opera companies and associations are among the recent achievements garnered by students and faculty within the Vocal Arts Area in the MSU College of Music.

In late fall, the MSU Opera Theatre received third place honors in 2014-15 Division V of the National Opera Association collegiate production competition for Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The recognition is the fourth consecutive NOA honor received by the MSU Opera Theatre under the direction of Professor Melanie Helton.

Among the students garnering recent awards and opportunities are:

  • Isaac Frishman, tenor, doctoral student of Professor of Voice and Chair of the Vocal Arts Area Richard Fracker, who was admitted to the summer 2016 San Francisco Opera Merola Apprentice Program. Frishman was also selected for the Young Artist Residency Program of OPERA Iowa through the Des Moines Metro Opera.
  • Stephen Martin, tenor, doctoral student of Fracker, who was a regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera Competition in Kentucky and won a Metropolitan Opera Young Artist regional encouragement award.  Martin also earned an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera.
  • Schyler Sheltrown, a voice master’s candidate and student of Helton, who received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera Michigan District Competition in November 2015. The award is considered a very significant accomplishment for a young soprano where the competition is extremely intense.
  • Kyle White, sophomore baritone student of Helton, returns to Seagle Colony in the Adirondacks to sing Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore on a full scholarship. Joining White will be soprano Catherine Goode—a master’s student of Helton—and Jon Oakley—a master’s student of Fracker.  
  • Katharine Nunn, senior mezzo-soprano student of Helton, who received 3rd place in the National Opera Association Vocal Competition Scholarship Division. Katharine will be a company member at Ohio Light Opera in the summer of 2016.
  • Leah Brzyski, senior soprano student of Professor Anne Nispel, who earned an apprenticeship at the Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville, Va., in the summer of 2016.

Nearly a dozen vocal students also took top honors at the Fall 2015 competition of the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

First-year master’s student Sheltrown says her recent award validated her choice to pursue the vocal arts and to study at MSU. Sheltrown came straight from Mattawan High School and earned her bachelor’s in vocal performance from MSU in 2014.

“I came to MSU because of Professor Helton, but stayed because there is no school like this school,” she says. “It's the perfect place to be. We have amazing faculty who are invested in every student even when we’re not in their classes. I’ve had leading roles. We’ve had world-class conductors come here. Where else can you get that kind of experience?”

Fracker remarked that the significant number of awards in the past year reflects the talent and dedication of the nearly 90 students who study vocal arts at MSU.

“There is no question that as our students and alumni enjoy successes, that they are telling folks where they went to school,” says Fracker. “Success always generates success, and creates a culture in which our students are highly motivated and expect the very best.”   

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