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2021 Winners

Yoseph Park, Bass-Baritone

Joseph Park (Bass-Baritone) made his debut in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seoul Metropolitan Opera. Recent roles in Opera include Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Samuel (Un ballo in Maschera), and Colline (La bohème). He expanded his singing as a singer in oratorio, sacred music, and in various concerts.


In 2021, he has been a regional encouragement award winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.


Mr. Joseph Park received his undergraduate and graduate training at Kyunghee University in South Korea. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in the Opera Performance program at the University of Kansas under Dr. John Stephens.

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Jacqueline Piccolino , Soprano

American soprano Jacqueline Piccolino has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as having "impeccable technique and stage presence" and as “an artist to watch." In the 2019-2020 season, Ms. Piccolino was scheduled to join the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program to sing Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and to cover the title role in Dvořák’s Rusalka. In addition, Ms. Piccolino has been invited to perform Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

A participant in the Merola Opera Program for 2012 and 2013, Ms. Piccolino appeared as Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Arminda in La finta giardiniera. Honored thereafter as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Ms. Piccolino made her professional debut in 2013 as Stella in Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Over the next two years, she sang First Lady in The Magic Flute, Lady Madeline in La chute de la maison Usher, Laura in Luisa Miller, 2nd Maid in the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Clotilda in Norma, Mrs. Hayes in Susannah, and cover for Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Elsewhere Ms. Piccolino has performed the Israelitish Woman in Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus with the North Shore Choral Society in Evanston, Illinois and Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Seattle Opera in 2017. She also sang Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in 2017. Other career highlights include appearing as a Studio Artist with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, a soloist in the Napa Festival del Sole’s Bouchaine Young Artist Concert Series, and participant in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy.

In 2021, Ms. Piccolino was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as the First Prize Winner of the Partners for the Arts Inc. Competition. In 2020, she received the Eileen Deneen Award from the American Opera Society of Chicago and was also a Bursary Recipient by the Opera Awards Foundation. She also has earned a first prize from The American Prize in Vocal Performance, the Igor Gorin Memorial Award from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, and the prestigious Rose M. Grundman Award from the Musicians Club of Women in Chicago. In addition, Ms. Piccolino has received awards from the Sullivan, Shoshana, and George London Foundations, and she was a finalist in the 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Competition. Jacqueline graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Music in 2013 and received the prestigious Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship from her alma mater.

Currently, she resides in the beautiful city of Chicago!

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Michael Colman, Bass

Lyric bass Michael Colman, recently hailed by Opera News for “fielding a fine, dark bass-baritone”, has performed roles with many premier regional and university opera companies including Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera, The Commentator (Scalia/Ginsburg) with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) with Opera Grand Rapids, Leporello (Don Giovanni) with the Janiec Opera Company, Colline (La Bohème) with Indiana University, Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance) with Dayton Opera, as well as concert performances as the Bass Soloist (Messiah) with the Dayton Philharmonic and the Bass Soloist (Mozart Requiem) with The Virginia Consort.


A native of Adrian, Michigan, Michael earned degrees from Baylor University, The University of Kansas, and Indiana University. Upcoming performances include The Commentator (Scalia/Ginsburg) with Chautauqua Opera.

Kebra-Seyoun Charles, Double Bass

Kebra-Seyoun Charles is a double-bassist originally from Miami, Florida. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Todd Seeber and Lawrence Wolfe. Kebra-Seyoun is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Joseph Conyers. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Jerome L. Greene Fellowship.  


Growing up the son of an African drummer and dancer, Kebra-Seyoun was exposed to music at a very early age. Early exposure to jazz, gospel, and traditional African music led him to express interest in other forms of music. He now studies classical music passionately and draws influence and inspiration from ostensibly contrasting genres and musicians. In line with his upbringing, Kebra-Seyoun is able to give prominence to the dance qualities in all forms of music. Exhibiting his versatility, Kebra-Seyoun has had the opportunity to play alongside esteemed improviser and composer Tyshawn Sorey. Kebra-Seyoun also played in the Slugs’ Saloon installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, created by famed jazz musician and composer Jason Moran.


Kebra-Seyoun is a Sphinx Concerto Competition alumnus,  two-time winner of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s concerto competition,  the winner of NAACP’s ACT-SO concerto competition, and he has been featured by Performance Today, YoungArts, and From the Top and the American Music Talent competition. In addition to his solo career, Kebra has performed with many different ensembles, including A Far Cry, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and Cape Cod Symphony. From 2016-2020, he was the principal of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s double bass section. This included performances in Boston’s Symphony Hall, Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, Vienna’s Mozarteum, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.  Kebra-Seyoun has twice played as a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. 

Elizabeth Yao, Piano

Pianist Elizabeth Yao has been praised for her sincerity of expression and the “intelligent, emotional coherence” of her musical interpretations. She has been featured as guest soloist with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony as a winner of their 2017 Young Artist Competition and as a guest artist on Spokane Public Radio’s “From the Studio” Program for a live performance and interview. Other distinctions have included prizes and awards at the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Collegiate Scholarship Competition, the Lima Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and the Ladies Musical Club Award Tour Competition. As a collaborator, she has played with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and the modern music ensemble Inverted Space, toured with a trio as part of the San Francisco Symphony educational outreach program Adventures in Music, and is currently one-half of the KKEYS Piano Duo.

Elizabeth Yao graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese, having studied piano with Dr. Robin McCabe, Patricia Michaelian, and Nancy Jang. She went on to complete her Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the teaching of Mack McCray. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Indiana University under the tutelage of André Watts.

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James Vaughn, Trumpet

James Vaughen attends the Curtis Institute of Music and is a student of David Bilger. James has soloed with the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Illinois Sinfonia da Camera. James’s performances with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra have taken him on two concert tours of China and tours of Northern Europe and Latin America, as well as performances in Carnegie Hall and Chicago Symphony Center. In 2018 James was chosen to attend the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, performing in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and throughout Sapporo. Prior to his studies
at Curtis, James spent a year working as an AmeriCorps Intern for Spring Initiative, a nonprofit transformative after-school program in the Mississippi Delta.


James has been selected as a semifinalist in the 2019 Young Concert Artist International auditions and the 2020 Concert Artists Guild Competition, and was the winner of the 2020 Roger Voisin Memorial Trumpet Competition. In 2020 James also placed first in the Next Generation Trumpet Competition and the Ictus International Trumpet Competition. Most recently, James won the International Trumpet Guild Ryan Anthony Memorial Competition’s Solo, Orchestral Excerpts, and Wind Band Divisions, as well as the National Trumpet Competition’s Military Band Division, and placed 2nd in the NTC Undergraduate Solo Division.

Honorable Mention, Vocal

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Helaine Liebman, Soprano, Northwestern University,  and Yun Xie, Soprano, Manhattan School of Music

Honorable Mention, Instrumental

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Chloe Thominet, Viola, Northwestern University, Austin Huntington, Cello, Indiana University and Leonela Alejandro, Classical Guitar, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

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