Oberlin Vocalists Rise to the Top

January 15, 2021

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

Caroline Carter.
Photo credit: courtesy Caroline Carter

First-year students secure top prizes in national and regional competitions.

Two Oberlin Conservatory classical voice students were finalists in the 2021 National YoungArts Foundation National Arts Competition. They were chosen from more than 1,400 applicants throughout the United States to represent the finest young artists between the ages of 15 and 18.

Mezzo-soprano Caroline Carter ’24 (pictured, above), a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas and now a student of Associate Professor Katherine Jolly, won the Silver Award and $5000.

Soprano Elizabeth Hanje ’24, a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and a student of Professor Salvatore Champagne, was conferred a Level I award and a prize of $3000.

YoungArts winners are the nation’s most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design, and performing arts. They are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. Winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for emerging artists in the United States, offering financial, professional, and artistic development opportunities over the course of their careers.

Both vocalists participated in National YoungArts Week, the signature program that offers YoungArts award finalists the guidance to prepare for the next stage of their artistic development. Typically held in person in Miami, the 2021 program, National YoungArts Week +, takes place virtually during the first and last weeks of January. A streaming concert featuring all voice finalists, representing jazz, pop, and singer/songwriters, will be shown on January 25 at 8 p.m. at www.youngarts.org.

“Despite being confined to Zoom, I met many talented artists and loved learning and growing with them throughout the week," Carter says of her participation in YoungArts Week's classes and workshops, which took place January 3 through 9. "This experience also connected me with professionals in the field and allowed me to receive helpful feedback from them.

"Being recognized for my work and artistry by such a prestigious organization is gratifying—all the hard work and time spent indoors this semester feels worth it. From YoungArts, I’ve learned how to create a performance experience for myself and others through a camera and how to engage in competition at the national level. This week was unforgettable, and I’m very lucky to have been given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

Elizabeth Hanje.
courtesy Elizabeth Hanje

Hanje (pictured, right) also benefited from her YoungArts Week experience.

“I am so honored to receive a YoungArts award and enter a community of distinguished artists that is full of support and opportunity," she says. "YoungArts Week has been so fruitful and has allowed me to learn and work with incredible teachers and talented peers. This week has truly changed my life and reminded me why I love the arts!”

The National Association of Teachers of Singing also announced the winners of its fall 2020 competition for the Great Lakes region. Several students of Jolly took prizes and will go on to compete at the regional competition in March. In this November's round of the First Year Treble category, Caroline Carter earned first place. Double-degree student Wooldjina Present ’25 took second place. In the Second Year Treble category, first place went to Kylie Kreucher ’23 and second place went to Mae Alice Harrell ’23. Nisha Caiozzi ’23 earned honorable mention.

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