A total of four Hope College students were named finalists in the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Competition held on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in Grand Rapids.
Senior Jenna Buck of Elburn, Ill., junior Haley Hodges of Hart, senior Caitlin McDougall of Flint and senior Brent Smith of Owosso are among nine finalists chosen from a total of 15 select contestants from Hope, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. They and the other finalists will compete in the final round scheduled for Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at Aquinas College’s Kretschmer Auditorium.
The Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Vocal Competition provides an opportunity for outstanding student vocalists being trained full-time at Greater Grand Rapids-area colleges and universities to compete in a professional competition and to be recognized for excellence by a professional opera company. The participating students are asked to perform two arias in differing styles, languages and composers from opera and/or operetta.
Buck is majoring in vocal music performance. She is a 2008 graduate of Kaneland High School, and the daughter of Mark and Cathy Buck of Elburn.
Hodges is majoring in vocal music performance and theatre. She is a 2009 graduate of Hart High School, and the daughter of Tina Hodges of Hart and Jeffrey Hodges of Pentwater.
McDougall is majoring in vocal music education. She is a 2008 graduate of Powers Catholic High School, and the daughter of Patrick and Jesusa McDougall of Flint.
Smith is majoring in piano performance. He is a 2008 graduate of Owosso High School, and the son of Kent and Monica Smith of Owosso.
All four students have been active in music or theatrical performance in a variety of ways through the years. Among other activities during the current school year, Buck was a member of the cast of the February 3-4 Opera Grand Rapids production of “The Magic Flute”; Hodges was a member of the cast of Hope College Theatre’s November production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”; and McDougall and Smith were among the soloists selected to perform during the college’s annual Concerto/Aria concert on February 3.
Each was also a member of the cast of the college’s fall 2010 production of the Kurt Weill opera “Street Scene,” a major collaborative effort of the departments of music and theatre, Buck as a member of the high school graduation class; Hodges as Jenny and a nursemaid; McDougall as Mrs. Fiorentino; and Smith as Harry Easter. In addition, all four will be featured soloists during the college’s forthcoming Musical Showcase concert, which will take place on Monday, March 5, at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.
McDougall and Smith were also finalists last year in the opera competition, as was Hope senior Sarah Ashcroft of Holland, who won the 2011 event.
All of the Hope students study with Linda LeFever Dykstra, who is an associate professor of music and chair of the voice division at Hope.