The Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition


The 35th Annual Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition is your opportunity to hear the most talented rising stars in the classical vocal world! This free event showcases singers selected by a panel of renowned judges, from hundreds of outstanding applicants across the nation.

Sunday, April 16, 2023 | 3 PM
Maryland Hall | 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD



Veena Akama-Makia, mezzo
Erin Alford, mezzo
Mary Burke Barber, mezzo
Megan Callahan, mezzo
Matthew Hill, tenor
Mary Hoskins, soprano
Kira Kaplan, soprano
Lawrence Barasa Kiharangwa, tenor
Evan Lazdowski, bass-baritone
Eunsung Lee, baritone

Kyungeun Lee, soprano
Sara LeMesh, soprano
Ilanah Lobel-Torres, soprano
Daniel Esteban Lugo, tenor
Ryan A. Lustgarten, tenor
Winona Martin, mezzo
Eva Rae Martinez, soprano
Sarah Neal, mezzo
Yoseph Park, bass-baritone

Elissa Pfaender, mezzo
Isabel Randall, mezzo
Maggie Renee, mezzo
Jouelle Roberson, soprano
Olivia Rominiyi, soprano
Alexis Seminario, soprano
Hunter Shaner, countertenor
Catherine Swindle, soprano
Ethel Trujillo, soprano
Jason Zacher, bass-baritone


Artistic & Music Director, Annapolis Opera
Judge: Semi-Finals, Finals

American Conductor Craig Kier has received high praise for his “Tesla-like intensity” and “impeccable orchestral support” while leading performances throughout the United States and on international stages.

Maestro Kier was appointed Artistic and Music Director of the Annapolis Opera in 2020 and has been the Director of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) since 2014. Productions since the beginning of his tenure with MOS have included Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, La finta giardiniera, and La clemenza di Tito, Handel’s Ariodante, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Blitzstein’s Regina, Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretiaand Owen Wingrave, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Kier’s 2022-2023 season includes productions of Puccini’s La bohème, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Annapolis Opera. He also leads productions of La bohème, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up with Maryland Opera Studio and returns to Brevard Music Center. Future seasons include debuts with Opera Columbus and Knoxville Opera. Last season, he led Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and John Musto’s Later the Same Evening with the Maryland Opera Studio and La cenerentola and Into the Woods with Annapolis Opera. In the 2019-2020 season, he led Tosca with Annapolis Opera, was scheduled to return to the Brevard Music Center to conduct their season opening concert and Die Enführung aus dem Serail, returned to Houston Ballet to lead gala performances and The Nutcracker, which he has done since 2011, and continued his association with the National Symphony Orchestra, assisting Gianandrea Noseda. In the 2018-2019 season, he made his San Francisco Merola Opera Center debut, Indianapolis Opera debut, and returned to Opera Birmingham and Houston Ballet. At the University of Maryland, he served as Artistic Director of the year-long Kurt Weill Festival, conducting performances of The Road of Promise, Mahagonny Songspiel, and Street Scene.

Recent season highlights include conducting debuts with Wolf Trap Opera leading Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Brevard Opera Center leading La cenerentola, Anchorage Opera leading Don Pasquale, Arizona Opera leading Madama Butterfly, and Opera Saratoga leading Verdi’s Falstaff.

From 2010-2013, Kier was Associate Conductor under Patrick Summers at Houston Grand Opera. During his time with the company he led dozens of performances including Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Fledermaus, Trial by Jury and the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s Bound. Additional guest engagements for Kier include La bohème with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Il barbiere di Siviglia with Atlanta Opera, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Glimmerglass Festival, The Sound of Music with Central City Opera, Thomas’ Hamlet and La Traviata with Opera Birmingham, L’italiani in Algeri with Opera Santa Barbara, and The Music Man at Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman.

Justina Lee
Artistic Advisor, Annapolis Opera
Judge: Semi-Finals

American collaborative artist Justina Lee has served as assistant conductor, pianist, and coach for such companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Castleton Festival, and Wolf Trap Opera Company. She is a frequent collaborator with acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and has appeared with him on National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Recital highlights include collaborations with Alyson Cambridge, Gordon Hawkins, Kate Lindsey, Linda Mabbs, Lisette Oropesa, Dimitri Pittas, and Tamara Wilson. Ms. Lee has appeared under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation residency program and on recital series that include On Wings of Song at Carnegie Hall, the Harriman-Jewell Series, the Washington Performing Arts Series at The Kennedy Center, and on Renée Fleming’s VOICES recital series. She can also be seen on as a pianist for Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute masterclasses with Joyce DiDonato.

Ms. Lee is an alumna of the distinguished Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera and holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Manhattan School of Music. She served as Principal Coach of the Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2008-2022, and faculty at Prague Summer Nights Music Festival and the International Opera Performing Experience summer program. She joined the faculty at the Juilliard School in 2022, as Associate Artistic Director of Vocal Arts with a focus on the Bachelor of Music degree program.

Director of HGO Studio, Houston Grand Opera
Judge: Semi-Finals

Brian Speck is Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, where he is responsible for selection, training, and career development of the Studio’s singers and pianist-coaches, and serves on the company’s senior management team. He hears hundreds of young artists each year in auditions and advises singers on their artistic and career development. He is a frequent adjudicator in vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition, the National Opera Association’s Carolyn Bailey Argento Competition, the Cooper-Bing Vocal Competition, Florida Grand Opera’s Young Patronesses of Opera Competition, Shreveport Opera’s Singer of the Year, and HGO’s own Eleanor McCollum Competition. He currently serves as co-chair of OPERA America’s Performer Development Network and spearheaded an effort to create a virtual audition process for training programs across the opera industry. Prior to his current position, Mr. Speck served as HGO’s Company Manager, leading HGO’s department of Rehearsal Planning and Artist Services to coordinate all day-to-day rehearsal activities of the company and support its guest artists. He previously held positions with the Aspen Opera Center and Houston Public Media. Mr. Speck holds degrees in voice performance from Pepperdine University and Rice University.


2022: Hannah Shea, mezzo
: Danielle Beckvermit, soprano
2019: Joshua Conyers, baritone
2018: Kylena Parks, soprano
2016: Galeano Salas, tenor
2015: Diane Kalinowski, soprano
2014: Huanhuan Ma, soprano
2013: Halim Shon, tenor
2012: Sarah Mesko, mezzo
2011: Zach Borichevsky, tenor
2010: Rolando Sanz, tenor
2009: Aaron Agulay, baritone
2008: Jay Jung, baritone
2007: Colleen Daly, soprano
2006: Eun Hee Kim, soprano
2005: Lori Lind, soprano
2004: Sheri Jackson, soprano
2003: Dongwon Shin, tenor
2002: Kwangkyu Lee, bass
2001: Tian-Xu Zhou, baritone
2000: Angela Fout, soprano
1999: Daesan No, baritone
1998: Hyun Min Lee, soprano
1997: Charles Reid, tenor
1996: Michael Ford, tenor
1995: Taewon Yi Kim, mezzo
1994: Jennifer Post, soprano
1993: John Weber, tenor
1992: Reginald Allen, baritone
1991: Deborah Arnold, soprano
1989: Marcia Plait Treece, mezzo
1988: Grant Young, baritone

The Annapolis Opera is currently following the COVID-19 safety policy of Maryland Hall. Masks are encouraged for all performances but are optional inside the building and theaters. Seating is at full capacity and not socially distanced unless otherwise specified in the event description. This policy is subject to change at any time based on current federal, state and local government mandates and public safety issues.