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Music to your ears: Annual vocal festival to host two-day event online

The 12th Annual Vocal Artistry of Song competition opens on World Voice Day, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 16 with upwards of 65 student participants.

The virtual program debuts with music by award-winning composer John Harbison, known for his symphonies, operas and choral works; and soprano soloist Kendra Colton with pianist Kayo Iwama. The music will be available online at

Harbison is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant,” the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities.

Students in eight categories from age 11 through university will compete for $10,000 in prize money. Each submits a video for consideration.

“Because of the pandemic, they can’t sing in person now, but they can make a video,” founder/artistic director Jacqueline Zander-Wall said. “It’s maybe a tiny silver lining in this pandemic.”

Each year, Zander-Wall chooses a language to highlight. This year will feature a roster of English and American composers, including familiar names such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Aaron Copland and Henry Purcell. Open performances by singers and pianists from all over the state will take place throughout the weekend before a guest faculty, including international artists and representatives from music conservatories. Master classes and open performances for all levels of singers and collaborative pianists are open to the public.

This year’s two-day festival includes:

• 7 p.m. Friday, April 16: recital celebrating the music of composer Harbison with soprano Colton and pianist Iwama.

• 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17: High school master class with Colton.

• Noon Saturday, April 17: vocal artistry and collaborative piano master class with Iwama.

• 3 p.m. Saturday, April 17: “Let Beauty Awake!” with Air & Hammers (Edmund Connolly and Maxine Thévenot).

• 4 p.m. Saturday, April 17, young artist master class with Connolly.

• 6 p.m. Saturday, April 17, announcement of scholarship awards on Facebook.

The mission of Vocal Artistry Art Song Festival is to encourage the further study of art song repertoire, which plays a vital role in sculpting classical singers.

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