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Music students win prizes at statewide voice auditions

Published on April 04, 2023

Music students win prizes at statewide voice auditions

student singers
Student singers, left to right: Adam Benway, Mya Millbauer, Chris Gregor, Manuel De La Flor, Sierrra McElroy, Grace Michalowski, Kianna Mitchner and Micah Dubitky

Eastern Connecticut State University music students had a strong showing in statewide student auditions held by the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). 

Of the eight students who participated, six won prizes and honorable mentions, and they have been invited to perform in the Connecticut NATS honors recital later this month.

Manuel De La Flor ‘25, a tenor, won first place in the lower college classical division. He also earned a first prize at the NATS New England auditions and has qualified for a national preliminary round in late April. The top 15 finishers there will be invited to a national semifinal in San Diego, CA, in July.

Manual De La Flor
Manuel De La Flor

Chris Gregor ‘24, also a tenor, won first prize in upper division for musical theatre. Mya Millbauer ‘23, a soprano, won second prize in the upper college classical division, and Sierra McElroy ‘23, another soprano, won third prize in the upper division for musical theatre.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Adam Benway ‘24, baritone, and Grace Michalowski ’24, soprano. Also auditioning were tenor Micah Dubitzky ‘23 and mezzo-soprano Kianna Mitchner ‘24.

“We have such a strong voice program at Eastern, and I am proud of what Dr. (Emily) Riggs has accomplished with her students and the opportunities she has helped to make available to them,” said Emily Todd, dean of liberal arts.

Riggs, associate professor of music, said the most valuable part of participating in the auditions is students’ receiving constructive and encouraging feedback. 

“It is rare in our field to receive feedback from the panel after auditions or competitions, and it can be a frustrating process for young artists who are trying to improve.” Recognition, in turn, “can be very motivating for a young singer.”

De La Flor said that his time at Eastern “has helped me enormously to improve my singing,” adding, “I’m really excited for what is yet to come.”

His performance of Tosti’s “Non t’amo più,” accompanied by pianist and Eastern lecturer David Ballena, was featured in the NE Region Finalist and Winners Award Concert and can be seen here: 

All the student singers and more will perform in Eastern Opera Workshop’s upcoming production, “Una bella note,” on Sat., April 15 at 4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Instructional Center concert hall. For ticket information, please visit the box office.

Written by Lucinda Weiss