Westminster Choir College alumnus Kyle van Schoonhoven was a winner on Sunday, March 19, at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert, the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition, held at Lincoln Center in New York City.
During the finals, he performed the “Mad scene” from Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes and "Rienzi's Prayer" from Richard Wagner's Rienzi, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. Renée Fleming was host for the event.
Originally from Lockport, N.Y., van Schoonhoven earned a Master of Music from Westminster in Voice Pedagogy and Performance in 2013, where he studied with Elem Eley and was a member of the Westminster Choir. He was also a fellow in Westminster’s CoOPERAtive summer opera program, where he studied with Westminster faculty member Laura Brooks Rice, who continues as his voice teacher today.
“It has been my pleasure and great honor to have been a part of Kyle's team and witness him fulfill his dreams of a major operatic career,” says Rice. “I have no doubt he is on his way.”
He is a first-year Adler Fellowship recipient with the San Francisco Opera, and he will make his San Francisco debut in the fall in Strauss’ Electra as Young Servant. He recently received the 2017 Nicolai Gedda Memorial Award from the George London Foundation and was a finalist in the 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. He also participated in the Merola Opera Program in 2016.
Kyle van Schoonhoven is the fifth Westminster Choir College graduate to be a Met Opera winner and the eighth to perform in the Grand Finals Concert. Some of the greatest known singers in opera have participated in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions including Ms. Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens, Patricia Racette, Deborah Voigt, Angela Meade and Frederica von Stade. Each winner receives a $15,000 cash prize and the prestige and exposure that come with winning the competition that launched the careers of many of opera's biggest stars.
Photo: The Winners of the 2017 National Council Grand Finals Concert (from left) Kyle van Schoonhoven, Vanessa Vasquez, Samantha Hankey, Kirsten MacKinnon, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Richard Smagur. Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.