GVSU student wins first place at vocal competition

GVL / Courtesy - Matt Gubancsik
Opera Grand Rapids

Matt Gubancsik

GVL / Courtesy – Matt Gubancsik Opera Grand Rapids

Nicole Bobb

Grand Valley State University vocal music students Kristina Papas and Hannah Tripp competed in the 13th annual Collegiate Vocal Competition hosted by Opera Grand Rapids Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, Nov. 20.

GVSU faculty member Kathryn Stieler founded the competition as a way for students to have an opportunity to gain experience performing where they could receive feedback.

“Arias are like the Olympics of singing. Opera in general is asking the singer to be everything they can be. It’s asking for all the skills, like a swimmer that would do all of the different strokes,” said GVSU music professor Dale Schriemer.

The Collegiate Vocal Competition included competitors from Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College, Hope College, Western Michigan University and GVSU.

The two-day competition was split into two rounds, a preliminary round and a final round. The preliminary round was judged by the participating school’s faculty and the final round was judged by invited judges from the field of opera. The preliminary round began with 26 contenders and narrowed down to six for the final round.

Papas and Tripp advanced to the final round, with Papas winning the Division I first place award.

Papas was encouraged by Schriemer to compete during her second year at GVSU and has since competed for three years under Schriemer’s guidance.

“I texted her right after her performance and I said, ‘Wow, sweetie. Great performance,’” Schriemer said.

Schriemer emphasized the importance of confidence and poise when preparing Papas to perform.

“I hit a point where I can comfortably be in my own skin,” Papas said. “It’s such a vulnerable career and going up on stage it’s you, your voice is you. It’s so hard to be perfect. I told myself I was going to be confident, I was going to be relaxed.”

After graduation, Papas wants to take a year off before starting graduate school. She plans on staying around the Grand Rapids area.

“When you go to grad school for music, it is essential to find the right teacher. I want to travel to some of the grad schools and take lessons with them next year,” Papas said. “It is going to be a lot of touring and just trying to find the right teacher and auditioning (for graduate programs).”

Papas plans to study with Rachael Gates, a voice professor at GVSU and Jane Bunnell, who has a long association with the Metropolitan Opera and teaches voice at Michigan State University. Papas looks forward to becoming involved in the emerging artist program with Opera Grand Rapids, with hopes to get into its chorus.

Upon completing her master’s program, Papas would like to travel and perform in as many places as she can and later teach at a university.