On September 30 and October 1, SMTD’s annual Friends of Opera Competition was held in the Britton Recital Hall. Made possible by the Friends of Opera, a group that supports the Department of Voice through annual giving, the competition awards prizes to vocal performance students in two categories, undergraduate and graduate.
Pelagia Pamel (BM ’24) won the John Knapp Undergraduate Award. In the graduate category, Catherine Goode, who is pursuing a DMA in voice, was named the Anna Chapekis Graduate Award winner. Qirong Liang (MM ’24) and Spencer VanDellen (MM ’24) both earned the Graduate Encouragement Award.
Pamel, a soprano studying under Professor Daniel Washington, is pursuing a dual degree in voice and international studies. A member of the U-M Chamber Choir since 2020, Pelagia has performed a dozen opera roles at the university, young artist, and professional level. At U-M, she performed Grasshopper and Fox Cub in The Cunning Little Vixen and Aphrodite in the chamber opera production of Triangle in fall 2022. She will be singing Diane in Orpheus in the Underworld this semester. Pamel has performed with Detroit Opera and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
A soprano studying with Professor Amanda Majeski, Goode will sing Helen’s Voice in the world premiere of Touch at Opera Birmingham and Clara in The Light in the Piazza at Opera in the Heights this season. Recent performances include roles at Opera in the Heights (Gilda in Rigoletto), Salt Marsh Opera (Lauretta/the Plaintiff in Gianni Schicchi/Trial by Jury), Central City Opera (Krysia in Two Remain), and Kentucky Opera (Della in The Gift of the Magi). A native of Friendswood, Texas, Goode holds degrees from the University of Houston (BM, performance/education) and Michigan State University (MM, performance).
Liang, who was a studio artist at the Aspen Music Festival during summer 2023, is a mezzo-soprano who studies with Professor Freda Herseth. Liang has earned several accolades, including first place in the Advanced Classical Division at the 2022 National Student Showcase, Michigan Chapter. She has participated in six operas, with roles including Charlotte in Werther, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, the Third Lady in The Magic Flute, and Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld.
VanDellen is a tenor studying with Professor Stanford Olsen. He has performed many musical theatre, operetta, and opera roles, and will portray the role of Pluton in the U-M production of Orpheus in the Underworld. He also regularly performs concert repertoire and has performed as the tenor soloist in works including Wynton Marsalis’s All Rise (presented by UMS) and Bach Magnificat (presented by the USO and U-M Choirs). VanDellen studied with Benjamin Butterfield at the University of Victoria, where he earned a bachelor of music in voice.
On Saturday, February 17, 2024, the four winners will perform in a recital at 2:00 p.m. in Britton Recital Hall. The recital is free and open to the public. Additional details will be available on the SMTD event calendar in the coming weeks.
Interested in supporting SMTD’s Department of Voice and the Friends of Opera Competition? Consider making a donation to the Friends of Opera.