Final round of vocal competition approaches

This Sunday, Nov. 18, five Trinity students will compete for the chance to win the Rosalind Phillips Vocal Excellence Award. The winner will be awarded $800 and the opportunity to perform with the Trinity Symphony Orchestra in their spring concert.

The competition, won last year by senior Valerie Jeannin, was created by 1989 graduate Amy Becker in honor of the late Trinity music professor Rosalind Phillips.

Phillips taught at Trinity from 1961 to 1989 and was well known for both her talented voice and her beautiful hair, which landed her a modeling job on a shampoo bottle.

Trinity music professor Diane Persellin has been in charge of the competition for the last five years and admires Phillips’ selflessness.

“She never wanted birthday presents. She just wanted people to donate funds,” Persellin said.

Persellin is also hopeful that more alumni will donate to the competition and continue this opportunity for students. “We really want to keep this going,” Persellin said.

Competitors juniors Kevin Culver, Katherine Yachinich and Kristin Burnam and seniors Cody Miller and Rachel Lake.

These finalists were chosen from a group of nine students after a preliminary round on Oct. 31.
Each participant, with the help of an official staff accompanist, must perform three pieces: an aria, an art song and one song of his or her choice. One of the pieces also must be in a foreign language. Becker will serve as master of ceremonies.

The finalists are already hard at work preparing for Sunday.

“I am making sure to notice the little things and bring those out to show the judges I really looked into the piece,” Lake said.

Burnam is also focusing on the finer points of her pieces.

“The hardest part is preparing the characters. Singing the song isn’t enough. You have to really delve into the song,” Burnam said.

Both candidates expressed their appreciation for this opportunity.

“My goal was to make the top five, and anything else is an added bonus. To be considered on the same level as the other contestants is amazing,” Burnam said.

To keep the competition unbiased, it will be judged by three distinguished off-campus music educators, including Juli Wood from Texas State University, Linda Poetschke from The University of Texas at San Antonio and Deborah Dalton from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Finalists will be judged in areas such as tone quality, expression and stage presence.

The competition will be held at 3 p.m. in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall and is free and open to the public.