The first Curtain Call Award competition was held in the Jed Leshowitz Recital Hall at the JOHN J. CALI SCHOOL OF MUSIC on Saturday, June 5. Conceived as a partnership between the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Montclair State last summer by students in the Communication Studies Department, the competition showcased New Jersey’s top classically trained high school juniors and seniors. Sarah Merten, a senior at Bernards High School, was selected as the event’s very first winner.
In addition to Merten, the other finalists included: Kaitlyn Blomquist and Andrew Ferrie of Point Pleasant Borough High School, Micaela Kovary of West Essex High School, and Meg Orita, from Plainsboro High School North. The five had been chosen by members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild staff, who selected the finalists from a list of nearly two dozen high school students from around the state who had entered the competition.
Recent MSU graduate, JENNA ROCCA (who also developed the Curtain Call concept) and senior, LAUREN HANSON, served as hosts for the evening. Dr. Stephen Oosting, head of the vocal music department, Francesca Kubian, New Jersey Music Education Association’s All State Opera Festival Coordinator, and Louise T. Guinter, Senior Editor of Opera News, served as the judges. Outgoing Interim Chair of the Music School, PAUL HOSTETTER, and Communication Studies Chair, HARRY HAINES, who's also the Met Guild’s Director of Development and Communication, spoke prior to the start of the competition.
Each singer performed two arias, which were evaluated by the judges on technique, delivery, mastery of the music, and stage presence. While each student received a trophy for reaching the final round, Merten also will receive a vocal lesson from a Montclair State faculty member, tickets to a Metropolitan Opera, other gifts, and a picture on Opera News.
Merten, Kovary, and Orita were accompanied by MSU accompanist MARY PINTO, and Terry Bojanowski accompanied Blomquist and Ferrie.
Cohen, who coordinated the event for the Guild, was so pleased with the inaugural award show, he promised to begin planning next year’s event almost immediately. Communication Studies PR Coordinator, LARRY WEINER will work with Cohen on next year’s show.