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Houston Grand Opera Announces Concert Of Arias 2021 Winners

For the first time in company history, there was no audience present as finalists performed live from the Wortham Theater Center.

Houston Grand Opera Announces Concert Of Arias 2021 Winners

Houston Grand Opera has announced the winners of this year's Concert of Arias, the 33rd Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. For the first time in company history, there was no audience present as finalists performed live from the Wortham Theater Center. Instead, the competition was livestreamed on HGO's social platforms and MarqueeTV. The evening's host, world-renowned soprano Tamara Wilson, kept viewers apprised of all the action happening behind-the-scenes as finalists performed.

1st Place prize of $10,000 was awarded to Key'mon W. Murrah

2nd Place prize of $5,000 went to Eric Taylor

3rd Place prize of $3,000 was won by Emily Treigle

The Ana María Martínez Encouragement Award of $2,000 went to Ángel Vargas

During the program, the organization had a technical glitch with the text-to-vote Audience Choice Award. All votes were discarded, and voting will reopen at 10:00 p.m. CST on Friday, February 5, 2021 and remain open through 11:59 p.m. CST on Sunday, February 7, 2021. Details on text-to-vote can be found at

Winners of the Concert of Arias were chosen by a distinguished panel of judges including HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers, HGO Artistic Advisor Ana María Martínez, and guest judge OPERA San Antonio General Director E. Loren Meeker.

For the sixth year, Martínez, renowned soprano and HGO Studio alumna, selected a finalist to receive her Encouragement Award. She established this award in 2015 to identify a young singer of exceptional promise who would benefit from additional support of their continued training. Martínez won first prize in the competition in 1994.

"The past year has been completely devastating for the artistic community. Because of that, it was so important to us to keep our commitment to these young artists. Each year, I am in awe of the talent they display. While the 2021 competition took on a very different form, it is an honor to continue the treasured tradition that is Concert of Arias," states HGO Studio Director Brian Speck. "So much work has gone into preparing this year's unique virtual event, from safety procedures for the competition to back-up plans for when arrangements inevitably fell through. I am proud of the way the HGO community came together to make this event happen."

This year's Concert of Arias is graciously chaired by HGO Board Member Sid Moorhead. Event supporters raised more than $750,000, with proceeds from the evening benefiting the organization and the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

The concert was the final event in a months-long audition process, which took on a new form for the competition's 33rd year. HGO partnered with companies nationwide to coordinate virtual auditions for their young artist programs and competitions. After careful consideration, HGO narrowed hundreds of applicants to nine talented finalists, who were invited to Houston for the final round of the competition. Following all safety protocols, the selected finalists who could be here had the opportunity to learn more about HGO and work with HGO music staff leading up to the Concert of Arias, where they performed two arias each, accompanied by Kirill Kuzmin, HGO principal coach. Seven young artists were able to perform from The Cullen Stage, while the two remaining artists shared their performances remotely because of last-minute travel complications.

"The tenacity of each of these singers in a year of such unpredictable perils has been inspiring and joyful," says HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. "They are all winners in my book."

Since its inception 43 years ago, the HGO Studio has grown into one of the most respected young artist programs in the world. Each of the young artists in the HGO Studio has access to a learning environment that emphasizes practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes regular coaching sessions with industry professionals, roles in HGO mainstage productions, recital performances, and a variety of other concert engagements.

To learn more about the evening, visit

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