Ouachita Baptist University’s Division of Music will host the 16th annual Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. in the W. Francis McBeth Recital Hall of Mabee Fine Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Jon Secrest, Ouachita’s chair of the applied music department, is coordinating the event. Secrest said that the competition is among the best events Ouachita’s vocal program has to offer. He said he always sees the vocal students “achieve new heights” and “grow tremendously in their artistry” through the competition. He also encourages the public to come and watch.
“It enriches everyone’s lives who participates, and that includes the audience,” Secrest said. “I think that those who attend are stimulated so much and enriched by what goes on that day. It really is an exciting day.”
Each year the competition rotates to one of three different types of repertoire including arias from opera and oratorio, art songs and musical theatre. This year, students will perform arias from opera and oratorio.
“These arias are very sophisticated, elaborate and virtuosic compositions that require a great deal of technical facility and accomplishment,” said Secrest. “They take longer to prepare because they require a much more elite level of accomplishment vocally.”
“This is a chance for music students to put their hard work on display; it is an opportunity for them to demand excellence from themselves,” said Kristen La Madrid, a staff accompanist who has worked with the students to prepare for the competition. “I hope my students will use this event as an opportunity to challenge themselves and sharpen their skills as musicians.”
A cash prize of $500 will be rewarded to the first place winner, $300 to second place, $200 to third place, $100 to third place and $50 for honorable mention.
The event is named after Mary Shambarger, professor emerita of music at Ouachita. While serving on staff at Ouachita, she formed the choral group, the Ouachitones, which later became the Ouachita Singers. After 32 years, she retired from Ouachita in 1998 and decided to fund a competition for voice principals that awarded the winners with monetary prizes. In order to participate, students must be voice principals in their fourth semester or beyond.
Judges for this year’s competition include: Dr. Charles Fuller, former director of Ouachita Singers and former dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts, Mary Shambarger and Stephen Anthony Ray, a 2008 alumnus and former winner of the Shambarger Competition.
Students will be accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: Glenda Aldridge, John Briggs, Kristen La Madrid, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker.
For more information, please contact Dr. Jon Secrest at email@example.com or (870) 245-5134.
By Bethany Peevy