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THE BENENSON YOUNG ARTIST PROGRAM

2019-2020 Season Benenson Young Artist Program

The Benenson Young Artist Program is a stepping stone to a successful career as an opera singer for emerging professional artists. During their five-month residency in Palm Beach, The Benenson Young Artists develop and polish essential stagecraft and performance skills, aided by musical and career guidance from Palm Beach Opera’s experienced artistic and administrative staff, as well as distinguished guest faculty. The Benenson Young Artists appear on the mainstage in supporting roles, cover leading roles, and perform in concerts and special events throughout our community.

The Benenson Young Artist Program is part of a unique three-tiered training system at Palm Beach Opera that includes the Studio Program and the Apprentice Artist program.

The Benenson Young Artist Program is funded by The Edward H. Benenson Foundation, Gladys Benenson, President

  • Emily Blair
    Emily Blair
    Soprano
  • Patricia Westley
    Patricia Westley
    Soprano
  • Maria Vasilevskaya
    Maria Vasilevskaya
    Mezzo-Soprano
  • Duke Kim
    Duke Kim
    Tenor
  • Boris Van Druff
    Boris Van Druff
    Tenor
  • Jeehoon Kim
    Jeehoon Kim
    Baritone
  • Ted Allen Pickell
    Ted Allen Pickell
    Bass-Baritone

Would you like more information about auditions?

For more information about our Benenson Young Artist Program and auditioning, click here.

2018-2019 Season Benenson Young Artists

Joanna Latini, Soprano
Emily Blair, Soprano
Sylvia D’Eramo, Soprano
Natalie Rose Havens, Mezzo-Soprano
Brian Wallin, Tenor
Robert Stahley, Tenor
Ben Schaefer, Baritone
Ted Allen Pickell, Bass-Baritone

2017-2018 Season Benenson Young Artists

Chelsea Bonagura, Soprano
Kasia Borowiec, Soprano
Francesca Aguado, Mezzo-Soprano
Derrek Stark, Tenor
Brian Wallin, Tenor
Joshua Conyers, Baritone
Andrew Richardson, Bass-Baritone
Andrew Simpson, Bass-Baritone

Emily Blair
Soprano

American soprano, Emily Blair, has performed throughout North America and Europe. She is a graduate of Mannes College The New School for Music in New York City with a master’s degree in Vocal Performance, under the tutelage of Professor Amy Burton.

In 2017, Emily was named Semi-Finalist in both the Young Patronesses of Opera Competition and the Opera Birmingham Competition. She is also honored to be returning to Portland to sing Angelica in Handel’s Orlando with Ping and Woof Opera later this season.

In 2016, Miss Blair joined Portland Opera singing The Mother in Hansel and Gretel in their outreach program. She also joined the CoOperative program as a Fellow, where she studied with Susan Ashbaker, Gina Lapinski and Nova Thomas

Patricia Westley
Soprano

New Zealand–American soprano Patricia Westley is gaining recognition as a young artist of great vocal and theatrical appeal. Her 2018 commitments include her San José Chamber Orchestra debut as a featured soloist, in partnership with the San Francisco Opera Center, and her Oakland Symphony debut as soprano soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. During the summer of 2018, she was in residency with San Francisco Opera’s illustrious Merola Opera Program to perform the leading romantic role of Elisa in Mozart’s early masterpiece Il re pastore.

A favorite with San Francisco audiences, Ms. Westley has performed with Pocket Opera as Adele in Die Fledermaus, for which she was critically hailed as “vocally-comically sensational”, and with  Lamplighters Music Theatre as Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Elsie in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Casilda in The Gondoliers.

During the 2016–2017 season Ms. Westley fulfilled an artist residency with Shreveport Opera, making mainstage debuts as Musetta in La bohème, Despina in Così fan tutte, and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof.

Ms. Westley’s talents have been acknowledged and encouraged in the vocal competition circuit; she has won the 2016 East Bay Opera League Competition, has placed as a finalist in the Franco-American Vocal Academy’s 2016 Vocal Competition (Grand Concours de Chant), and has earned a 2015 Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Her training includes young artist residencies with Pittsburgh Festival Opera, the International Vocal Arts Institute, the Tyrolean Opera Program, and SongFest. Ms. Westley earned her Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of Oklahoma and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University.

Maria Vasilevskaya
Mezzo-Soprano

Studied Voice and Opera Performance at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory
From Novosibirsk, Russia

MM Eastman School of Music ’19

Duke Kim
Tenor

Duke Kim was most recently seen as Arbace in Idomeneo at Wolf Trap Opera.

His other operatic appearances include Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Laurie in Little Women, and Count Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera at Shepherd School of Music.

Duke has attended prestigious summer programs such as the Wolf Trap Opera Studio, Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artists Vocal Academy, Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist Program, and Aspen Music Festival. During his undergraduate studies, he performed Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Camille in Die Lustige Witwe.

Equally adept at concert, he has been the tenor soloist for Mendelssohn’s Elijah, the Bach Magnificat, Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël, and Handel’s Messiah.

Duke has received numerous prizes including the Special Encouragement Award at the Western Region Final of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, 2nd place in Gwendolyn Roberts Young Artist Auditions, and 1 st place in New Century Singers Whittier Competition. This February, Duke was one of the finalists in the Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition.

Boris Van Druff
Tenor

Boris Van Druff was recently hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for the “robust, heroic contributions throughout” his performance in Conrad Susa’s Transformations with the Merola Opera Program. He has performed diverse repertoire in his career, such as Rodolfo in La Boheme, Tamino in The Magic Flute, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and as the mute Toby in The Medium. He has also performed as Gastone in La Traviata, Benvolio in Romeo et Juliette, and Trin in La Fanciulla del West with Knoxville Opera. In the concert world, he has also performed the tenor solos in Haydn’s Theresienmesse and Bach’s Cantata No. 80 with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, and in Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat with the Mercersburg Chorus. Upcoming performances include a song recital at Alfred University in February of 2018, and the title role in Judas Maccabaeus with the Rochester Oratorio Society in December 2017.

Boris currently lives in Angelica, NY, with his wife, Talia. He is an adjunct instructor of voice at Alfred University.

Jeehoon Kim
Baritone

In 2018, Mr. Kim performed as Fiorello, while covering for Figaro, in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera North. In previous years, he has been seen in the title role of Gianni Schicchi, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia, Olin Blitch in scenes from Susannah, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, and Enrico in scenes from Lucia di Lammermoor all at the University of Minnesota. He sang the title role in Rigoletto with Really Spicy Opera in Minneapolis, and while at the University of Texas in Austin he appeared as Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and covered Marcello in La bohème.

Jeehoon Kim holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Minnesota, and Masters of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas in Austin and Myoung Ji University in South Korea. He was a Resident Artist with Opera North in 2018 and part of Twin Cities Opera Guild’s Opera Outreach program in 2017. He was a 2018 Semifinalist at the Premiere Opera International Vocal Competition and a 2017 Semifinalist in the Verismo Opera International Competition. He won the Kenwood Symphony Orchestra Concerto Aria Competition in 2017 and the previous year was the National Winner of the Classical Singer Competition in Boston (after winning in Minnesota).

Ted Allen Pickell
Bass-Baritone

Hailed for his “powerful voice” (CASA Magazine) and “tremendous” singing (San Diego Reader), bass-baritone Ted Allen Pickell is a distinguished and accomplished young artist on the rise.

This 2018/19 season, Mr. Pickell will join the Palm Beach Opera Benenson Young Artist Program, where he will cover the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, as well as perform the role of the Marquis in Verdi’s La Traviata. Additional engagements include a return to the title role in The Mikado with Bodhi Tree Concerts.

In the 2017/18 season, Mr. Pickell made his San Diego Operadebut as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, alongside Greer Grimsley as the Pirate King. Additional engagements included a return to the title role in The Mikado with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and spending the summer of 2018 at the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, where he sang the role of Father Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Mr. Pickell also joined the San Diego Opera’s Apprentice Artist training program for singers, where he performed in selections from Faust and Billy Budd.

He was also a San Diego District winner, as well as the Audience Choice Award winner, of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, an award winner in the Loren. L Zachary competition, a semi-finalist in the George London Foundation, and the winner of the “Most Promising Singer” award from the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus vocal competition.

In the 2016/17 season, Mr. Pickell appeared as the title role in The Mikado with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, Der Vater in Hänsel und Gretel with Point Loma Opera Theatre, The Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk and Basilio in The Barber of Seville with Opera Iowa’s young artist outreach ensemble, and joined Des Moines Metro Opera’s roster of Apprentice Artists, where he sang Arthur Jones and study covered the role of John Claggart in Billy Budd, and performed the role of Nick Shadow in scenes from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Mr. Pickell also performed as a soloist in the Margo Garrett Master Class at Carnegie Hall, as part of Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues.

Other notable operatic performances include Blitch in Susannah, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, The Warden in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and the title role in Mozart’s The Impresario with the Northwestern University Opera Theatre, covering Zuniga in Carmen and singing Micha in The Bartered Bride with Music Academy of the West, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Point Loma Opera Theatre, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Opera Academy of California, Mars in Orpheus in the Underworld, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Armed Man in The Magic Flute, all with the University of the Pacific Opera Theatre.

On the concert stage Mr. Pickell has sung the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the featured soloist in Dougherty’s 3 Folk Songs with the Music Academy of the West, Handel’s Brocke’s Passion and Britten’s St. Cecelia at the University of the Pacific.

Mr. Pickell is a winner of the 2016 & 2017 MONC Western Region San Diego district, the recipient of an encouragement award from the 2015 MONC Central Regional finals, a 2014 Ryan Opera Center finalist, the winner of the Anne Ferraro Stone Memorial Award from the Bel Canto Foundation, and the recipient of scholarships for excellence in vocal performance from Northwestern University and the University of the Pacific.

Mr. Pickell is a recent graduate of the Masters in Vocal Performance at Northwestern University. He received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from University of the Pacific.

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