The 17th Annual Collegiate Vocal Competition

online event

Deadline: 02/15/2021





—Deadline extended: The application deadline is now extended to February 15!

—Fee reduced: The application fee has been reduced to just $50.

—Sing any arias: Of your two arias, one must be in a language other than English, but there are no other repertoire requirements.

—Sing from your living room: You may now submit video recordings with a prerecorded accompaniment or even without any accompaniment whatsoever. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited many students’ access to collaborative pianists and to typical recording venues. Feel free to record yourself singing without accompaniment from your home! Our first-round adjudicators are aware of this rule and will not penalize applicants for singing without a live pianist.


Opera Grand Rapids is proud to announce its 2020/21 Collegiate Vocal Competition!

The 17th annual Collegiate Vocal Competition is an opportunity for college-level voice students to compete for cash prizes and receive feedback from adjudicators who themselves are acclaimed opera artists. Opera Grand Rapids brings world-class professionals into its adjudication process in order to give contestants meaningful instruction and critique.

The competition enters its second year in a new format: first-round applications are now submitted online, and 10 finalists will perform in the final-round concert at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 3, 2021. This competition boasts the second-largest purse in the nation at nearly $25,000, awarded as follows:

—First Place: $10,000

—Second Place: $5,000

—Third Place: $2,500

—Friends of the Opera Award: $1,000, chosen by audience members during the final-round concert

—10 Finalists: $500 to be used as a travel stipend

Prizewinners will also receive special consideration for roles in upcoming Opera Grand Rapids productions.



—Entrants must be enrolled as an undergraduate at a higher-education institution in the United States as of February 15, 2021.

—Entrants must be under the age of 25 as of February 15, 2021.


First-Round Application

Contestants must submit several materials for the first round:

—Video recordings of two arias

——At least one piece must be in a language other than English.

—Written response to the given prompt

——2020 has forced artists—especially singers—to face unprecedented challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to a racial reckoning. What have you done to make your art relevant and accessible, and how are you using your art to better the lives of others?

—Application fee, payable online through Acceptd

——$30 for students who attend a school in the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Consortium

——$50 for all other students



—Photocopy of an ID with date of birth clearly displayed



All first-round adjudicators will remain anonymous. Each application will be adjudicated by three opera professionals along the following criteria:

—Tone/vocal quality (5 points)

—Breathing/alignment (5 points)

—Language/diction (5 points)

—Musicianship (5 points)

—Artistry/stage presence (5 points)

The three anonymous adjudicators will each rate applicants on each category for a total of 75 points. The essay is worth an additional 5 points; thus, each application is rated out of 80 points. The ten applicants with the highest scores will receive $500 and proceed to the final round.

The three final-round adjudicators are:

—Karim Sulayman, tenor, 2019 GRAMMY Award Winner for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

—Anna Schubert, soprano, created lead role in opera p r i s m, 2019 Pulitzer Award for Music winner

—Leslie Dunner, conductor, South Shore Opera Company music director and Interlochen orchestra conductor, conducted opera The Central Park Five, 2020 Pulitzer Award for Music winner



Austin McWilliams

Assistant Conductor and Director of Music Education

(573) 712-6316

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