Arts & Culture

UK Opera Students Singing for Their Summer


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2011) − Three University of Kentucky opera students will literally "sing for their summer" this weekend at a concert. Vocalists Arianna Afshari, Mary-Hollis Hundley and Reginald Smith Jr. will present a concert to raise money to attend select summer opera programs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at Central Christian Church, located at 205 East Short St. in Lexington. Proceeds from the concert will help Afshari and Hundley attend the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar in Wiemar, Germany, and assist Smith in attending the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, N.C.

The benefit concert program will feature works from Johannes Brahms, arias from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Don Giovanni," spirituals and American art songs. Concert audience members are asked to make whatever contribution they can afford.  Afshari, Hundley and Smith have all received some scholarship aid for their vocal programs, but must raise $5,000 for Weimar and $5,100 for Brevard for travel as well program expenses.

"Even if all you can afford is $1, that will help us get $1 closer to our goal," said Smith, who presented a concert last summer to help pay to attend another prestigious vocal training program. "I was so overwhelmed by the love and support that was shown to me last year as I raised money for a fantastic summer at Seagle Music Colony in New York."

Hundley, a 2011 arts administration and vocal performance graduate from Louisville, Ky., and Afshari, a vocal performance senior from Pocatello, Idaho, have been accepted into the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar. Both sopranos will perform in the studio's production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." With support from the Deutsches National Theater, Lyric Opera Studio Weimar is a summer training studio that develops singers through the performance of a fully staged opera, intense German language and diction coaching, master classes and individual coaching. Providing audition workshops with the opera dramaturge of the German National Theater, as well as specialists in German resumes, at the end of the program, singers have the opportunity to audition for several German agents. The staff consists of European musicians, as well as coaches and teachers from such renowned institutions as the German National Theater, Finnish National Opera, Indiana University and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

Smith, a vocal performance and choral music education senior from Atlanta, Ga., has been invited to attend the Brevard Music Center, where the baritone will sing the role of Germont at the center's production of Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata." While at Brevard, Smith will be a member of the Janiec Opera Company and have the opportunity to work with professional opera directors and coaches such as David Gately, Patrick Hansen, Dean Anthony and Elizabeth Koch. He will also observe the work of Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. The Janiec Opera Company enrolls 40 college-aged and pre-professional singers who aspire to careers in the opera world. Brevard offers stage experience in addition to daily rehearsals, coaching and classes.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-1754 ext. 229;