Soprano Erin Ennis, baritone Elias Wallace, and soprano Morgan Seip were the three winners of Young Voices, our first singing competition for high school and college/university students. They earned the highest scores out of twenty contestants from nine high schools and four institutions of higher learning in Florida and Alabama during the event held Saturday, October 20 in the Ashmore Auditorium at Pensacola State College. Although most of the contestants were from Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, some travelled from as far away as Thomasville, AL and Tallahassee.
Students competed in three divisions: High School, College Level 1 (freshman or sophomore), and College Level 2 (junior or senior). They each sang two art songs or arias, and the winners and runner’s up in each division received cash prizes, In addition, the winners received an invitation to perform on the Society’s November 1 concert.
The judges named Erin Ennis, a student at Pace High School, the winner in the High School Division for her performances of an aria from Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” and “Solveig’s Song” from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt.” Runner-up Ella Griffith of Pensacola High School also sang Mozart, a recitative and aria from “Le nozze di Figaro,” as well as an arrangement of the American folk song “Shenandoah.”
Elias Wallace, one of three students who drove in from Florida A&M University, earned the winning score for his interpretations of two songs: “Dein blaues Auge” by Johannes Brahms and “Come Away, Death,” a setting of lyrics from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” by Roger Quilter. Tenor Tucker O’Connor, a student at Pensacola State College, was named runner-up. He performed “Bel piacere” by George Frideric Handel and “Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” by Quilter.
Two sopranos from the University of West Florida took the awards in the College Level 2 Division. Morgan Seip won for her performances of “Laurie’s Song” from Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land” and “Mein Herr Marquis” from Johann Strauss II’s “Die Fledermaus.” Runner-up Elisha Miller performed Manuel Ponce’s “Estrellita” and “Monica’s Waltz” from Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium.”
Ms. Ennis and Ms. Seip opened our November 1 concert, collaborating with pianist Christopher Powell. Mr O’Connor also participated, stepping in for Mr. Wallace, who was unable to make the trip from Tallahassee.
Young Voices received support from Pensacola State College, Department of Performing Arts (Don Snowden, head); Wells Fargo; and the Hampton Inn and Suites, Gulf Breeze.