Senior Greg Frens Named
Finalist in Opera Competition

Posted April 11, 2001

HOLLAND -- Greg Frens, a Hope College senior from Grand Rapids, has been named a finalist in the 2001 Palm Beach Opera "Anton Guadagno Vocal Competition."

Now in its 32nd year, the competition draws singers from throughout the United States and Canada. Frens is one of only 22 finalists chosen to compete in the junior division for singers age 18 to 23.

The competition will be held at the Rinker Theatre at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday and Friday, April 26-27.

"Greg is first and foremost a fine musician. He has an excellent background in piano, and is as comfortable with jazz as he is with classical music," said Linda Dykstra, who is an assistant professor of music at Hope and Frens's voice teacher. "He quickly assimilates information, and is extremely motivated."

"Generally, lower, larger voices take longer to develop than higher, smaller ones. In most competitions, the upper age limit is older for bass-baritones and mezzo/contraltos," she said. "Greg is still very young; he has an impressive instrument, and if he continues to develop as he has in the past year, I think he can have a wonderful career. He has had the opportunity to be heard by a number of highly respected people in the field, and all have been impressed and encouraging."

Frens is hoping to pursue a career as a professional singer with an opera company, with his long- term goal to become a teacher of voice in a college setting.

He was chosen to be a finalist for the competition in Palm Beach on the basis of an audition tape reviewed by a screening committee. In 2000, the competition received 125 applications and selected 52 singers to perform in either junior or advanced (age 24-30) divisions.

For the event, he must be prepared to sing four arias from memory, each in its original language, including one from the 18th century and one from the 20th century. The competition will award more than $50,000 in prizes to winners in the two age divisions. In 2000, the top award for the junior division was $5,000.

In addition to receiving the cash awards, winners from the two divisions will also perform at a Grand Winners Concert on Sunday, April 29, at the Kravis Center. Anton Guadagno, artistic director and principal conductor of the Palm Beach Opera, will conduct the concert.

The competition's judges come from opera houses around the world, and can become professional contacts for the winners. Past contestants have gone on to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scale, the Vienna Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England and the Palm Beach Opera, among others.

Frens is a 1996 graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, and is the son of Richard and Nancy Frens of Grand Rapids. On Saturday, March 31, he received First Place in the "Senior Men" category of the statewide auditions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing and held at Hope this year.

His musical activities at the college have also included the Chapel Choir and the Collegium Musicum, as well as performing in Hope Theatre's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in the fall of 1998. He has also participated in varsity football, intramurals and the Emersonian fraternity.


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