JTVA is pleased to announce the 7 finalists in each tier for our second annual Vocal Competition. These fine singers will come to Oakland, CA to participate in the master classes and competition finals on June 26 and 27 at Holy Names University. This video, which was shown at our annual Founders’ Celebration, is a brief compilation of excerpts from the finalists’ applications. We are thrilled with the wonderful talent displayed by all of our applicants and are looking forward with great excitement to the competition weekend! All events are open to the public and tickets are now available at jtva15.brownpapertickets.com.


Elizabeth Baldwin • Soprano
Sylvania OH

Elizabeth Baldwin has performed Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Opera San Jose, Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Viclinda in Verdi’s I Lombardi with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, Ellen Orford in Britten’s Peter Grimes with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chautauqua Opera, Puccini’s heroine Tosca with Kentucky Opera and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as title role of Ariadne auf Naxos with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. On concert stages, she sang the Widow in Elijah at Boston’s Symphony Hall, John William’s Seven For Luck at Tanglewood Music Center Festival, and Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra. In competitions, she was a Finalist in the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition, Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and Grand Prize winner in The William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation.

Jason Duika • Baritone
Bloomington IN

Praised by Oregon music news for having a “big, warm voice” and “spot-on comic timing”, Jason Duika recently completed his first year at Palm Beach Opera as baritone artist where he covered the roles of Marcello and Schaunard in Puccini’s La Bohème, and Herman in the world premier opera, Enemies; A Love Story, by Ben Moore. In addition, Mr. Duika performed the role of the Corporal in Donizetti’s comedy, La Fille du Regiment. He will be returning to Palm Beach Opera for this coming season and will be performing the roles of Dancairo in Carmen, by Bizet, and Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, by Donizetti, as well as cover the roles of Escamillo (The Toreador) in Carmen, and Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, by Strauss. Mr. Duika has also performed at Utah Festival Opera and Wichita Grand Opera. 

Sara LeMesh • Mezzo-Soprano
San Rafael CA

A native of San Rafael, California, mezzo-soprano Sara LeMesh is equally passionate about recitals, chamber music, new music, Baroque, and opera. The “plush mezzo” (NY Times) recently premiered the role of Anna in Shawn Jaegar’s opera Payne Hollow at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College and performed “Au cimetière” from Berlioz’ Les nuits d’été under the baton of Stéphane Denève at the Tanglewood Music Center. Recent summer engagements include the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival and School, which she attended as a New Horizons Fellow. Ms. LeMesh currently sings in the chorus of the San Francisco Opera.

Jennifer Lindsay • Soprano
Long Beach CA

Jennifer Lindsay is a past laureate of the Redlands Bowl Competition and the National Association of Negro Musicians Vocal Competition, and she has been a featured soloist with the Pacific Symphony and the Bakersfield Symphony. In July she will make her role debut as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Prague Summer Nights Festival, under the direction of renowned baritone Sherrill Milnes, and this fall she will premiere the role of Lucha in Marc Lowenstein's opera Hopscotch, presented by The Industry in Los Angeles. Other roles include Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, as well as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, and Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il Tabarro. Jennifer studies voice with Marvellee Cariaga and coaches with Peter Mark.

Clarissa Lyons • Soprano
New York NY

Lauded by the Los Angeles Times for her “luxuriant large soprano,” Clarissa Lyons has been selected as a two-time Tanglewood Music Center fellow, Marc & Eva Stern Fellow at SongFest, and Bel Canto Young Artist at Caramoor. Ms. Lyons holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Manhattan School of Music, and Bard College Conservatory. She has been named the winner of the Henry & Maria Holt Competition, Carmel Music Society Competition, and the Young Patronesses of Opera Competition. 

Emma McNairy • Soprano
Berkeley CA

Lauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for “a virtuosic display as Zerbinetta”, in West Edge Opera’s production of the Richard Strauss opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, Emma McNairy is enjoying a blossoming career. A 2013 and 2014 fellow at Marilyn Horne’s Music Academy of the West, she sang Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen where she was noted as "...particularly charismatic..." (Opera News). She has performed with West Edge Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Opera New Jersey, Bangkok Opera, Brava! Opera Theater, VocaalLAB (The Netherlands), iSING! Young Artists Festival (China), and the JSB Ensemble (Germany & Chile). She received 2nd Prize in the Internationaler Gesangswettbewerb des Opernfestivals Gut Immling in 2015.

Brent Turner • Tenor
New York NY

American tenor Brent Reilly Turner has been critically acclaimed across the United States as having a full, dramatic timbre, energetic personality and unique honesty. Turner recently received 3rd place honors at the 2015 National Opera Association Vocal Competition. He was also awarded a coveted study grant from the Wagner Society of New York and was an encouragement award recipient in the Wagner Division of the 2014 Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition. Last year, Turner received the Grand Prizes at the 2014 Peter Elvins Vocal Competition and the 2014 Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition hosted by Shreveport Opera. Turner received 2nd place honors at the 2014 Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and 3rd place in the 2014 Irma M. Cooper Competition hosted by Opera Columbus. 


Clare Demer • Soprano
Tucson AZ

Clare Demer is an undergraduate vocal performance major at The University of Arizona, where she performed the role of Monica in Menotti's The Medium last Spring. This summer, Clare will be a fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Festival and a participant in the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal. Other training includes the Aspen Music Festival, SongFest at Colburn and Saarburg Chamber Music Festival. Among her awards are Encouragement Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions - Arizona (2014), winner of both the undergraduate and graduate divisions of the Amelia Rieman Opera Competition (2012, 2014), and second place in the American Prize in Art Song (2013).

Samuel James Dewese • Baritone
La Grange Park IL

Baritone Samuel James Dewese has been praised as a “skillful and moving” performer by critics in the US and abroad. After his international debut singing the title role in the 2011 Kunming Opera Festival production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Samuel was a 2013 District Champion in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a MONC Midwest Regional Finalist in February 2014. Mr. Dewese made his Chicago debut singing Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème with Windy City Opera in March 2015 under Cathy O’Shaughnessy and will next be seen as Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with Floating Opera Company.

Aaron Gallington • Tenor
Goleta CA

Aaron Gallington, is distinguishing himself throughout California as a powerful and communicative vocal artist. As a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Mr. Gallington appeared as Duke Orsino in the West Coast premiere of the opera Twelfth Night by Joel Feigin and Javier in Federico Moreno Torroba’s opera Luisa Fernanda. As an emerging classical vocalist Mr. Gallington continues to be engaged for concerts and recitals throughout California. In August 2015 Mr. Gallington will make his Bay Area debut with the Lamplighters Music Theatre company singing Ralph in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore.

Angela Jarosz • Soprano
San Francisco CA

“As Candide's long-lost and much-compromised love Cunegonde, coloratura soprano Angela Jarosz absolutely nails the insanely difficult vocal heights of the hysterical aria 'Glitter and Be Gay' with aplomb." – Sam Hurwitt, San Jose Mercury News. Coloratura soprano Angela Jarosz is bursting onto the local opera scene – frequently performing with companies including Solo Opera, Douglas Morrisson Theater, Opera on Tap, and Bay Area Classical Harmonies. Angela holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Roosevelt University. She continues to study with the esteemed Jane Randolph.

Bradley King • Tenor
Arlington VA

Advancing in his vocal career, Bradley King is a tenor holding Masters Degrees from the University of North Texas in Voice and Conducting and a Bachelor of Music from DePauw University. As a student, Bradley distinguished himself as a graceful, versatile and intelligent musician either as ensemble performer or soloist and was recently praised by reviewers as “a singer with profound style.” On the stage he has performed such diverse roles as Anthony in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Colin in the one act French opera Le Devin du Village by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Bradley is an alumnus of prestigious training programs, such as Bel Canto Institute; BEMF Young Artists Program, and Fall Island Vocal Seminar.

Emma Rosenthal • Soprano
San Francisco CA

Emma Rosenthal’s repertoire ranges from Baroque to twenty-first century music and includes opera, oratorio and art song. Recent operatic performances include Cobweb in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Giulietta in scenes from Bellini’s I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, and Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Recent oratorio performances include Haydn’s Creation, and Messiah with San Jose Symphonic Choir. This summer, she will join the Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia to perform the role of Brigitta in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

Claire Weber • Mezzo-Soprano
Baltimore MD

Mezzo-soprano Claire Galloway Weber has become a frequent performer on opera stages and in recital and concert halls throughout the Baltimore area. Ms. Weber just received her Masters of Music at Peabody Conservatory studying with Steven Rainbolt. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Bard College where she was a recipient of the Theodor Presser Foundation Award and Bard Outstanding Vocal Award. Ms. Weber has attended young artist programs including the Russian Opera Workshop, Bel Cantanti Opera, Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar, and Chicago Summer Opera.  An avid linguist and proponent of contemporary composition, Ms. Weber is passionate about presenting modern works alongside more standard opera and art song repertoire. This past season Ms. Weber premiered the role of Barbara Thames in Frances Pollock’s Stinney and performed the role of Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Past operatic performances include the Mother, Dragonfly, and Squirrel in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Olga in Eugene Onegin, by Tchaikowski, Hippolyta in Brittin’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro as well as Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte by Mozart, and the title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas


Patricia Craig
Tier I Judge

Renowned operatic soprano Patricia Craig serves on both the faculty of the New England Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory. Her performing career spanned three decades in leading opera houses around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut in 1978 and returned in a variety of leading roles. Craig teaches at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Austria, The Chautauqua Institute, and The Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI). She serves on the board of both Opera Boston and AIMS.


Bruce Ford
Tier II Judge

Bruce Ford is known as one of the finest bel canto tenors of his generation and is a luminary in the Rossini and Donizetti revival of the '90s onward, as well as in Mozart. He first studied voice at West State University in Canyon, TX, and later at Texas Tech University. He was admitted to the Houston Opera Studio (the training company of the Houston Grand Opera), where he studied under Elena Nikolaidi and John Gillas. He made his Houston Grand Opera stage debut as the abbot in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur (a comprimario role), as well as singing in the American premiere of Philip Glass' The Madrigal Opera in 1981 and the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Willie Stark. He appeared in various small and medium-sized theaters in Europe and the United States during the early '80s, including the Minnesota Opera where he sang Peccadillo in the world premiere of P.D.Q. Bach's (Peter Schickele) The Abduction of Figaro. He made his Wexford debut in 1986 as Argirio in Rossini's Tancredi, which brought him to wider attention in the bel canto field. He began his long association with the Pesaro Festival in 1990 and in 1991, he made his Covent Garden debut as Count Almaviva in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. He sang Ernesto for his Chicago Lyric Opera debut in 1995. His Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1997 as Almaviva in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He has recorded widely, often in world-premiere recordings of forgotten bel canto operas.


Alexander Katsman
Tier I Judge

An alumnus of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Mr. Katsman received his M.M. from St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory and his B.M. cum laude from Mussorgsky College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander Katsman is the Artistic and Music Director for Livermore Valley Opera and also serves on the coaching staff at the San Francisco Conservatory. Conducting and coaching credits include over 60 opera, operetta, and musical theater productions in numerous companies such as Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera, Martinez Opera, Bayshore Lyric Opera, Berkeley West Edge Opera, Oakland Lyric Opera, Solo Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Opera Academy of California, Peninsula Teen Opera, Diablo Light Opera, Town Hall Theater, and also at Cal State University East Bay and Diablo Valley College. Recently Alexander was rehearsal conductor for Castleton Festival’s Berkeley performances of Albert Herring and The Rape of Lucretia. He was also Artistic Director for the Alexander Vocal Series, premier vocal recital series in Piedmont, California.


Jean Kellogg
Tier I & II Judge

Jean Kellogg, arts administrator, professional singer, coach accompanist and opera lecturer holds a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Florida State University and a Master’s degree from Westminster Choir College in Piano Accompaniment. Ms. Kellogg currently serves as executive director of the Merola Opera Program which is closely associated with San Francisco Opera.  Ms. Kellogg supervises the administration, development, finance, operations, marketing and public relations for Merola, one of the world’s most renowned young artist training programs, which is led artistically by the San Francisco Opera Center. Ms. Kellogg previously served as executive director for the Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason University in Virginia, Director of Education for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dean of the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C., and Artistic Administrator for Greater Miami Opera (now Florida Grand Opera).


Eileen Meredith
Tier I & II Judge

Washington, D.C. native Eileen Meredith performs, teaches, and directs.  Last year, she co-founded Island City Opera in Alameda, Ca. Eileen is a winner of first prize awards from the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  She has served as Music Director for middle and  high school musicals, and teaches privately in Alameda. Dedicated to helping young singers, her own performance highlights include Mahler's 4th Symphony, Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio, Britten's A Ceremony of Carols and Messiah at Davies Symphony Hall, Haydn's Theresienmesse.  A featured soloist on the San Francisco Symphony Chorus' recording Voices 1900/2000 her operatic roles include, Lucia, Giorgetta (Il Tabarro), Leonora (Il Trovatore), Donna Elvira, Cio-Cio San, Violetta, Mimi, and Cunegonde(Candide).

Michael Morgan
Tier I Judge

Michael Morgan is music director and conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and serves as artistic director of Oakland Youth Orchestra, conductor emeritus at Sacramento Philharmonic, artistic advisor to the Peoria Symphony and teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a guest conductor, Morgan has appeared with most of America's major orchestras as well as the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater and Washington National Opera. He makes many appearances in schools throughout the year and is highly regarded as a champion of arts education and minority access to the arts.


José Luis Moscovich
Tier I & II Judge

José Luis Moscovich is general director of West Bay Opera and previously served as music director of San Francisco Camerata, principal guest conductor of Bay Area Concerto Ensemble, and music director of San Francisco Women's Chorus. He has appeared with Concerto Orchestra, ARTEA Orchestra, Marin Chamber Orchestra, Nova Vista Orchestra, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Idaho, and Teatro El Círculo Opera. He wrote the libretto and conducted the premiere of Corpus Evita by Carlos Franzetti, the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.


Bryan Nies
Tier II Judge

Bryan Nies is Assistant Conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Principal Conductor of Festival Opera. From 2004 – 2012, he led Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, including a tour of Australia and New Zealand during the orchestra’s 40th season. With “superb musical direction,” Bryan conducted sold-out performances of Puccini’s Turandot and Bizet’s Carmen with Festival Opera to rave reviews that stated, “Nies is undeniably a talent to watch.” In addition, he has been a cover conductor for the St. Louis Symphony, conducted performances with Opera Idaho (Barber of Seville, Cosi Fan Tutte), West Bay Opera (La Boheme), and the Oakland Chamber Ensemble. With Eugene Onegin, Bryan Nies made his Opera San Jose debut as principal conductor, after serving as assistant conductor for five company productions between 2003 and 2007: Don Pasquale, Die Zauberflote, The Crucible, UnBallo in Maschera, Manon and Werther and the west coast premiere of Anna Karenina.

Pursuing an avid interest in all musical genres, Mr. Nies has also been an associate music director with American Musical Theater of San Jose, Theatreworks in Palo Alto, and is on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Jose State University.

During the summer of 2002, Mr. Nies was honored with a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to participate as a conductor at the Tanglewood Music Center. There he conducted performances to rave reviews in the Boston Globe. In addition, he received personal instruction with many leading professional conductors, including Michael Morgan, Roberto Abbado, Jeffery Tate, Hans Vonk, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos and Grant Llewellyn.

A native of Chicago, Mr. Nies also holds a B.M. in Piano Performance and a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University. He has won numerous piano competitions in the Chicago area including a Gramma Fisher Scholarship to study at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. In addition, he has performed with William Warfield for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, as their Assistant Conductor. Mr. Nies also served on the staff of Northwestern University’s Theater Department as vocal coach and piano accompanist.


James Toland
Tier I Judge

JTVA Founder and General Director James Toland has been a private voice teacher for the past thirty years. His students have performed in major opera houses and on concert stages throughout the world. Toland has served in recent years as a master teacher for the prestigious San Francisco Girls Chorus, and has taught for the Piedmont Children's Chorus and Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, as well as the choral music programs of the Acalanes School District. He has been a clinician for multiple choral groups including the Peninsula Women's Chorus, Cantare Con Vivo, the Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, and for the choirs of the University of Tennessee. Currently, Mr. Toland is the director of the Pacific Masterworks Chorus as well serves on the board of directors of WomenSing, a forty member treble voice chorus under the direction of Dr. Martin Benvenuto.