GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Every other year, high-caliber singing voices are heard in Green Bay in great concentration.
It’s like stepping into a chocolate shop where every goodie is appealing, and you have to make choices – good, better, best.
Only fine chocolate is available for the recipes.
This year is a year for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to host a “test of chocolates” unlike any other taste test in America.
It is the American International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition.
The first two stages were held Friday and Saturday. The finals are Sunday, Oct. 16, with a celebration concert to follow.
In the second round held during the day Saturday, 10 singers took turns singing three selections.
Each singer represents years of training, thousands of hours of practicing/learning, and one gross ton of desire.
What they are in is a kind of distilling process on the way to making a mark in a performing career, and past winners/participants have done so.
Yes, Green Bay is, in this case, a rung on the ladder to success.
The singing takes place in Fort Howard Hall in the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus.
The singers are accompanied by a wizard, pianist Timothy Cheek, whose fingers speak myriad notes in any language, tempo or shading needed.
The hall breathes sound nuances – the melancholy mellow to the eruptive energy.
It’s singer-friendly, if you’re good.
The jury for the finals: Professor Emeritus David Adams, Cincinnati Conservatory, Cincinnati, Ohio; Professor Eva Blahova, Bratislava, Slovakia; Maestro Gildo DiNunzio, Metropolitan Opera, New York City, New York; Professor Laurie Lashbrook, University of Akron School of Music, Akron, Ohio; Maestro Victor Yampolsky, Northwestern Bienen School of Music, Evanston, Illinois; Matthew Markham, associate professor, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The 10 singers who qualified for Saturday’s second round gave the judges solid challenges for the selection for the finals at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16.
Saturday’s field included singers with roots in Poland, Japan, China and across America. One participant has already won prizes in seven competitions this year, and others have performed in professional companies.
Yes, a whole lot of tasty chocolate is in their voices.
New with this year’s competition is livestreaming: youtube.com/c/UWGBMusic.
The 10 a.m. finals and 2 p.m. 10th anniversary celebration concert Oct. 16 will be available.
The competition also has its own Facebook page: facebook.com/AmericanInternationalCzechSlovakVoiceCompetition/.
The celebration concert program is this:
+ Welcome: Michael Alexander, UWGB chancellor
+ Remarks: Jaroslav Kanturek, Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago
+ Presentation of Awards
+ Antonin Dvorak’s “String Quartet No. 12, Opus 96”
Weidner Philharmonic String Quartet: Taylor Giorgio and Justyna Resch, violins; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Michael Dewhirst, cello
+ Antonin Dvorak’s “Mesicku na nebi hlubokem” from “Rusalka”
Courtney Sherman, soprano
+ Antonin Dvorak’s “Goin’ Home”
Mathew Markham, baritone
+ Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘E strano… Ah, fors’e lui… Sempre libera” from “La Traviata”
Grace Kahl, soprano
Key in all this (read more here: wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large/gerds-review-a-notable-one-and-only-for-green-bay/ (or) are Sarah Meredith Livingston, the UWGB professor who founded and has been essential in direction since the first competition in 2003, and Sharon Chmel Resch, producer and much more for the event.