The 9th Annual Harold Haugh Light Opera Vocal Competition, sponsored by the Comic Opera Guild since 2000, awarded cash prizes to more finalists than ever before. Eight finalists received awards in the March 24, 2012 competition, in addition to the Audience Favorite Prize, the Young Artist Award and a contract from the Jackson Symphony.
Kate Tombaugh, a mezzo-soprano with a beautifully clear voice and fine acting ability, prevailed as the $2000 First Place Winner. Ms. Tombaugh hails from Streator, Illinois, and has degrees from Illinois Weslyan University and Cincinnati’s College of Music. Her rendition of Sexy Lady (Moore) brought down the house and also won her the Jackson Symphony contract.
Second place ($1000) went to Rainelle Krause, a soprano from Tampa, Florida. A highlight of Rainelle’s performance was a terrific rendition of Olympia’s Aria from The Tales of Hoffman. Third Place became a problem when the scores resulted in a tie for John Riesen, a tenor from MSU and Laura Strickling, a soprano from the Peabody Institute. Judge Nada Radakovich settled the problem by generously donating $200 to allow Mr. Riesen and Ms. Strickling to each receive a $400 award. Mr. Riesen also won the Audience Favorite Award.
The Young Artist was a 19 year old tenor, Christian Ketter, from Chicago. It was difficult for the judges to conceive that this young man could have such a strong, rich voice at his age, and hope the award will help him continue his studies and perfect what is already a remarkable instrument.
The remaining finalists were: Christine Amon,Benjamin Laur, Shawn Mlynek, Timothy Bruno and Joann Martinson.
The field for this running of the competition was the most tightly contested ever, with the fewest points separating many of the semi-finalists from the finals. John Guidinger, the competition’s promoter and organizer, was extremely happy with the quality of the vocalists, and vows that there will be a tenth annual competition in Jackson next year. He has already begun the process of raising the more than $8000 necessary for this to happen.