Saturday, April 24, 2010

ArtsBuzz: PB Opera competition chooses 13 finalists

Canadian soprano Betty Allison, one of the 13 finalists.

Thirteen young singers in two divisions‭ ‬have been named finalists in the‭ ‬41st annual Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.‭ ‬The singers will perform Sunday afternoon in the Grand Finals concert at the Kravis Center.

The competition began this week with‭ ‬47‭ ‬semi-finalists selected from an initial field of‭ ‬259.‭ ‬The finalists will be vying for a total of‭ ‬$78,000‭ ‬in donated prize money,‭ ‬and will sing with the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra,‭ ‬led by guest conductor J.‭ ‬David Jackson,‭ ‬a staff conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

The seven finalists in the advanced division‭ (‬ages‭ ‬24-30‭)‬,‭ ‬chosen from‭ ‬28‭ ‬contestants,‭ ‬are:‭ ‬soprano Betty Allison,‭ ‬28,‭ ‬from Ladysmith,‭ ‬B.C.,‭ ‬Canada‭; ‬soprano Rena Harms,‭ ‬25,‭ ‬of Santa Fe,‭ ‬N.M.‭; ‬soprano Zulimar López-Hernández,‭ ‬30,‭ ‬of San Juan,‭ ‬Puerto Rico‭; ‬tenor Edward Mout,‭ ‬30,‭ ‬of San Diego,‭ ‬Calif.‭; ‬mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts,‭ ‬27,‭ ‬of Sacramento,‭ ‬Calif.‭; ‬baritone R.‭ ‬Kenneth Stavert,‭ ‬25,‭ ‬of Fullerton,‭ ‬Calif.‭; ‬and soprano Corinne Winters,‭ ‬27,‭ ‬of Frederick,‭ ‬Md.‭

The six finalists in the junior division‭ (‬ages‭ ‬18-23‭)‬,‭ ‬chosen from‭ ‬19‭ ‬contestants,‭ ‬are:‭ ‬bass Matthew Anchel,‭ ‬22,‭ ‬of New York City‭; ‬tenor Martin Bakari,‭ ‬23,‭ ‬of Yellow Springs,‭ ‬Ohio‭; ‬mezzo-soprano Sasha Hashemipour,‭ ‬21,‭ ‬of San Diego,‭ ‬Calif.‭; ‬baritone Joseph Lattanzi,‭ ‬22,‭ ‬of Mableton,‭ ‬Ga.‭; ‬soprano Rebecca Nathanson,‭ ‬22,‭ ‬of New Haven,‭ ‬Conn.‭; ‬and baritone Michael Young,‭ ‬23,‭ ‬of Cortland,‭ ‬Ohio.‭

Judges for the competition this year are Richard Gaddes,‭ ‬former general director of the Santa Fe Opera and founder of Opera Theatre of St.‭ ‬Louis‭; ‬Susana Meyer,‭ ‬artistic consultant to the American Symphony Orchestra‭; ‬and Leonore Rosenberg,‭ ‬associate artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera.‭ ‬Tickets for Sunday’s concert begin at‭ ‬$20‭ ‬and are available by calling‭ ‬833-7888‭ ‬or visiting www.pbopera.org.

Barry U.‭ ‬sells WXEL radio to Classical South Florida

WXEL-FM‭ (‬90.7‭) ‬of Boynton Beach,‭ ‬a public radio station that features classical music and National Public Radio programming,‭ ‬was sold earlier this week for‭ ‬$3.85‭ ‬million to Classical South Florida,‭ ‬the Fort Lauderdale-based station owned by‭ ‬American Public Media Group.‭

The sale was approved by the board of trustees of Barry University,‭ ‬the private Catholic university in Miami Shores that has owned WXEL radio and TV since‭ ‬1997.‭ ‬Barry Telecommunications Inc.‭ ‬will continue to hold the WXEL-TV license,‭ ‬the school said.

‭“‬We are pleased to welcome Classical South Florida as the new steward of WXEL-FM,‭” ‬Sister Linda Bevilacqua,‭ ‬president of Barry University,‭ ‬said in a news release.‭ “‬In terms of radio service to the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast communities,‭ ‬Classical South Florida brings local control and local content to the WXEL audience,‭ ‬with the backing of an outstanding organization,‭ ‬American Public Media.‭”

St.‭ ‬Paul,‭ ‬Minn.-based American Public Media Group began broadcast operations at Classical South Florida‭ –‬at WKCP‭ (‬89.7‭ ‬FM‭) – ‬in October‭ ‬2007,‭ ‬after buying the station,‭ ‬then a Christian-programming outlet called WMCU,‭ ‬from Trinity University of San Antonio,‭ ‬Texas.‭

After the sale of WXEL has been approved by state and federal regulators,‭ ‬the radio station’s call letters will be changed to avoid confusion with the TV station,‭ ‬Classical South Florida said in a release.‭ ‬The new call letters have not yet been chosen.

‭“‬Under our stewardship,‭ ‬the station will continue to serve Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast,‭” ‬said Doug Evans,‭ ‬general manager of Classical South Florida,‭ ‬in a press statement.‭ “‬The combination will allow CSF to extend the reach and enhance the quality of public radio programming throughout South Florida.‭”

Classical South Florida said in its news release that it plans to strengthen WXEL’s classical music programming while retaining its NPR news and public affairs content.‭ ‬American Public Media’s programs include‭ ‬A Prairie Home Companion,‭ ‬Performance Today,‭ ‬SymphonyCast,‭ ‬Saint Paul Sunday and‭ ‬Pipe Dreams.

In addition to broadcasting at WKCP,‭ ‬Classical South Florida’s programs can also be heard via low-power repeater at‭ ‬101.9‭ ‬FM in West Palm Beach.‭

-- Compiled by Skip Sheffield and Greg Stepanich

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