Judges Announced for The Star Next Door – Take 2 Competition Semi-Finals

The Roxbury Arts Alliance is pleased to announce the judges for “The Star Next Door – Take 2” singing competition.

The four-judge will include Kenneth Bryson, American Tenor and Educator; Manuel Castillo, Mexican Tenor; Amy Shoremount-Obra, Soprano and Teacher; and Mollie Weaver, a fourth generation Professional Musician.

The 12 finalists will consist of the winner of the most likes in the Roxbury Arts Alliance Facebook Page and the other eleven will be chosen by the panel of judges. The finalists will be notified by email on Sunday, March 10 and they will compete on the Final Event on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.

Kenneth Brynson

American tenor Kenneth Bryson has garnered much praise for his warm, noble, and classic sound reminiscent of the golden age of opera and song. Mr. Bryson’s strong voice is at home in a variety of genres, including opera, oratorio, and song repertoire.

Mr. Bryson’s many operatic roles include Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, Macduff in Macbeth, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, and John Adams in The Mother of us All, as well as the title roles in Oedipus Rex and La Clemenza di Tito. He has performed with a number of noteworthy companies, including the New York City Opera (as a Joe cover and associate chorister in La Fanciulla del West), dell’Arte Opera Ensemble (as Tebaldo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi), and the Juilliard Opera Center (as Father Jolivet in the world-premiere performance of Stephen Paulus’ Heloise and Abelard.)

An active soloist and recitalist, with over 100 recitals to his credit, Mr. Bryson has given numerous performances in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He has also appeared as a guest soloist in Italy with the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. Additionally, Mr. Bryson is the founder of Singing for a Cure, a vocal music concert series whose proceeds have benefited ALS and cancer research and treatment.

Mr. Bryson currently serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Chatham High School as well as maintains a private vocal studio in New Jersey. Formerly Mr. Bryson served as a Director of Music at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Summit, NJ. Mr. Bryson is also a published author whose article “Teaching a Student with Dyslexia” originally in the NATS March 2013 Journal of Singing has received much support and attention from some of the industries leading experts from around the world. He is also a member of The New York Singing Teachers’ Association (NYSTA), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), NAfME (National Association for Music Education) and ACDA (American Choral Directors Association).  In June 2010 Mr. Bryson was selected as one of 12 young educators from across the United States to participate in the highly selective NATS Intern Program. In January 2016 Mr. Bryson’s vocal studio was a featured invited performer with the Performing Arts Educators 10th Anniversary performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Mr. Bryson received his bachelor of music degree from The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and went on to earn a master’s degree at The Juilliard School. He completed additional studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music.

Manuel Castillo

Mexican tenor from Guadalajara has been presented in opera and concerts in America, Europe and Asia, singing in places such as St. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin, Gudhjem Summer Festival in Denmark, Peking University Concert Hall and CUCtv, China among others. Has interpreted the beloved roles of  Puccini’s  “Rodolfo” of La Bohème, (USA’10, Italy ‘12); Gounod’s “Roméo” of Roméo et Juliette, (USA‘12); Strauss’ “Alfred”  of Die  Fledermaus, USA’07, Italy’10) and “The Messenger” in Aida (USA’13) in the fond farewell of the acclaimed conductor Maestro Anton Coppola. Manuel’s mentors and voice teachers are Dr. Everett McCorvey, Cynthia Lawrence, Dr. Harlan Snow and Dr. Ricky Little. Manuel was invited by the legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes to his VOICExperience Program in New York City (2012, 2013) and Savannah, GA (2012), has also sung for Diana Soviero, Grace Bumbry, Donnie Ray Albert, George Shirley and Clifton Ware.

Manuel has also studied orchestral conducting under the guidance of maestros José Guadalupe Flores, Carlos Aransay, Pedro Bocotán and Leonardo Gasparini; as such, Manuel was an active conductor in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the “VIII Curso, Concurso y Beca Internacional 2003” of the foundation El Sonido y el Tiempo Internacional. Manuel was appointed assistant director of La Bohème of Torre del Lago, Italia (2007); guest conductor for The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley (2013) with Lexington Children’s Theatre and Shrek, The Musical (2014) with the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Kentucky. Manuel has been awarded diverse prizes and recognition, among the most important are: Ajijic ¡VIVA La Música! Scholarship, Martha Dietrich Scholarship, Morehead State University Foundation Scholarship, MSU Senior of the Year 2007, OperaLex 2007 and finalist of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition 2007.

Manuel is an avid entrepreneurship and passionate artist and pedagogue with special interest of helping young musicians for whom he has created master classes in orchestral conducting and voice (GDL 2003-2016), in 2010 founded the Haitian Harmony Children Choir that performed during the World Equestrian Games of the FEI in Lexington, KY. Manuel is also founder, artistic and general director of Opera Guadalajara (2013) which runs annually the International Music Festival now in its 4th edition (2017) and most recently directed the 1st Encuentro Nacional de Canto in the city of Parral, Chihuahua Dec 8-18,2018. Manuel studied Vocal Performance at The University of Texas at Austin, Morehead State University (BM) and at the University of Kentucky (MM & DMA). Since his arrival at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua in the Spring of 2017, he was appointed Head of the Voice Department of the Music School.

Amy Shoremount-Obra

Soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra has been garnering attention for her work on the operatic and concert stage, having recently been hailed by Opera News as having sung a “really outstanding (Donna) Anna, accurate and with exciting thrust, including the best vengeance aria I’ve heard since Carol Vaness’ heyday.” Her voice has been described as one that portrays “sensitivity yet full-throated power” (Huffington Post) while it “thrills with laser-like top notes” (BostonClassicalReview.com)

She began her career as a coloratura soprano and made her European debut in 2004 as “Ifigenia” in Händel’s Oreste in Spoleto, Italy. She also garnered attention for her portrayal as Mozart’s infamous “Queen of the Night” in Die Zauberflöte, which was not only her New York City Opera debut in 2009 but she also covered for three seasons at the Metropolitan Opera- including Diana Damrau’s final performances of the role. Eventually moving into more lyric and now dramatic repertoire, she made her much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera Debut in October 2014 as “First Lady” in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte , a role that she reprised at the Met last fall (2017) in the English version of the opera and recently sang again in German with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, CA in early 2018. She returns to the role during the 2018-19 season at the Met in the English version of the opera.

Specializing in the roles of Mozart, and more recently Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss, she has sung with such companies as The Metropolitan Opera (since 2007), New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Opera Las Vegas, The Savannah Voice Festival, Venture Opera, Odyssey Opera of Boston, Annapolis Opera, New York City Opera and Grand Harmonie among other companies.

Ms. Shoremount-Obra has appeared at Carnegie Hall as the Soprano Soloist in Fauré’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, and Schubert’s Mass in G. She made her David Geffen Hall debut in 2016 with the National Chorale as the Soprano Soloist in Verdi’s Requiem and recently returned to the hall this spring (2018) as the Soprano Soloist with the National Chorale in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. Other concert engagements have included her appearances as the Soprano Soloist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. This fall she will make her solo Mexican Orchestral debut in a concert of Verdi, Wagner and Puccini with the Orquesta Filarmónica del Estado de Chihuahua. She has performed in recital and concert throughout the United States including live on WFMT, Chicago’s Classical Radio Station. A champion of new music, she has collaborated with and performed the works of some of opera’s revered living composers including Paola Prestini, Thomas Pasatieri, John Zorn, Tarik O’Regan, Dan Visconti (currently on his world premiere video game opera “PermaDeath”), Robert Patterson, Sidney Boquiren, and Randall Eng, among others. She was a member of the American Opera Projects’ Composer and the Voice program in 2011-12 where she collaborated with a team of composers and librettists, work-shopping and premiering new works. Ms. Shoremount-Obra is the 2018 Top Prize Winner in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition Wagner Division and was a 2004 National Semi-Finalist and NY Regional Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Manhattan School of Music and an Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School (Juilliard Opera Center). Her teachers have included Hilda Harris, Marlena Malas, and currently, Diana Soviero. She is featured as the SoundBite in the May 2016 issue of Opera News and will be featured in a major Hollywood motion picture called “The Upside” in early 2019.

As a teaching professional, she was appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice at Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music (CUNY) in 2017. She previously held an adjunct position as a professor of vocal methods at The College of New Jersey and several artist-in-residency positions at Lawrence Conservatory of Music (Wisconsin) and at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua in Mexico. She has given masterclasses and lectures at Lawrence, the NJ Governor’s School of the Arts, the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua and at various festivals and workshops throughout the United States. During the summer of 2018, she joined the faculty of Juilliard’s Nord Anglia Vocal Program in Orlando, FL and returned to Mexico for the International Opera Workshop CUU in Chihuahua. During the fall of 2018, she gave a masterclass at Manhattan School of Music’s Pre-College Division and in Mexico again at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua. She is also currently the vocal consultant for the Palm Springs (CA) Opera Guild’s OperaTunity Program which has commissioned a world premiere opera for teenage voices by composer Michael Ching. She also maintains a private studio in both Manhattan and New Jersey.

Ms. Shoremount-Obra is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Hawaii International Music Festival, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that presents unique interdisciplinary classical music events and educational outreach programs in the Hawaiian Islands.

For more about Amy, visit: amyshoremount-obra.com

Mollie Weaver

A fourth generation professional musician, Mollie grew up surrounded by a wealth of love and knowledge of music. After winning a US Regional vocal competition, Mollie had the opportunity to record with John Denver’s producer, Kris O’Connor. Her success led to her performing professionally as a teen with the John Denver band, including his many United States shows beginning in 1995.

Some highlights of her career thus far have been her two solo concerts at Carnegie Hall, singing with the New York City Opera, behind legends Mick Jagger, Neil Young, John Denver and most recently singing behind President Barack and Michelle Obama at an LA event. Mollie has provided backing vocals for many artists and television shows, including Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Dave Matthews, Tom Jones, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, the American Idol band and The Voice band. Her impeccable phrasing along with her expressive delivery has earned her critical acclaim among colleagues and audiences alike and gives her the versatility and freedom to explore all extensions of music. Her voice has been used on several films including Divergent, Rock the Kasbah and most recently Please Stand By with Hans Zimmer protégée, Heitor Pereira.

Mollie continues to dedicate her energies as a professional musician, learning and collaborating with artists from all her experiences. She recorded two albums in 2015 with famed Nashville guitarist Pete Huttlinger under the name Parnassus and is almost finished with the debut record with her indie band. She feels so fortunate to have learned so much in her 25+year career and is so proud to be able to continue to share her love of music.

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