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Vocalists from across N.C. set to compete



Staff Writer


Area residents have the opportunity to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with sounds from some of North Carolina’s most revered voices set to compete in the 10th annual Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition at the Lincoln Cultural Center.

On Saturday, 19 semifinalists will take the stage and battle against each other in at least three of five musical categories, singing a total of six song selections throughout the competition. Categories include opera, oratorio, operetta, musical theater and classical song.

According to the competition website, competitors can range in age from 18 to 40 and must either reside in the state or be enrolled in a state school.

Last year’s winner, Scott Joiner, will be on-hand Sunday to give a special performance following the finals round and an award presentation.

World-renowned opera singers, Carolyn Heafner and Robert Williams, established the competition in Lincoln County a decade ago to identify vocal talent and encourage theatrical song and performance.

“A number of people who have won have gone on to do great things,” Heafner said.

Williams added that he and his wife Carolyn are “paying back” to the arts and the community in which they live.

Each is an opera veteran, who’s toured the world with a number of well-known ensembles. In addition, both have been featured in numerous publications throughout their careers.

This year’s competition features three accomplished judges, including opera tenor George Shirley, a personal friend of the competition’s founders and who’s perhaps most famous for being the first African-American member to join the United States Army Chorus in Washington, D.C.

Shirley also served an 11-year stint with New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where he was the group’s first African-American tenor and second black male to take on lead roles.

Additional judges include Eduardo Cedeno, principal conductor for Mooresville’s Lake Norman Orchestra and co-founder and former president and principal conductor of the Cornelius Youth Orchestras and the Gaston School of the Arts Youth Orchestra in Gastonia.

Cedeno additionally established and served as principal conductor of the Lake Norman Youth Orchestra.

Lastly, Jane Wright Pardue, music department coordinator for Mitchell Community College in Statesville, will be judging contestants. Pardue is an accomplished piano soloist and another former Metropolitan Opera singer, among various other musical groups.

Heafner and Williams consider this caliber of competition to be of significant importance for budding, amateur performers.

“A competition is the only rehearsal for auditioning,” Heafner said.
The competition will be 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit www.heafnerwilliamsvocalcompetition.com or contact the Lincoln Cultural Center at (704) 732-9055.


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