Greg Frens, a Hope College senior from
Grand Rapids, has been named a finalist in the 2001 Palm
Beach Opera "Anton Guadagno Vocal Competition."
Now in its 32nd year, the competition draws
singers from throughout the United States and Canada. Frens
is one of only 22 finalists chosen to compete in the junior
division for singers age 18 to 23.
The competition will be held at the Rinker Theatre
at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach,
Fla., on Thursday and Friday, April 26-27.
"Greg is first and foremost a fine musician. He
has an excellent background in piano, and is as comfortable
with jazz as he is with classical music," said Linda
Dykstra, who is an assistant professor of music at Hope and
Frens's voice teacher. "He quickly assimilates information,
and is extremely motivated."
"Generally, lower, larger voices take longer to
develop than higher, smaller ones. In most competitions,
the upper age limit is older for bass-baritones and
mezzo/contraltos," she said. "Greg is still very young; he
has an impressive instrument, and if he continues to develop
as he has in the past year, I think he can have a wonderful
career. He has had the opportunity to be heard by a number
of highly respected people in the field, and all have been
impressed and encouraging."
Frens is hoping to pursue a career as a
professional singer with an opera company, with his long-
term goal to become a teacher of voice in a college setting.
He was chosen to be a finalist for the competition
in Palm Beach on the basis of an audition tape reviewed by a
screening committee. In 2000, the competition received 125
applications and selected 52 singers to perform in either
junior or advanced (age 24-30) divisions.
For the event, he must be prepared to sing four
arias from memory, each in its original language, including
one from the 18th century and one from the 20th century.
The competition will award more than $50,000 in
prizes to winners in the two age divisions. In 2000, the
top award for the junior division was $5,000.
In addition to receiving the cash awards, winners
from the two divisions will also perform at a Grand Winners
Concert on Sunday, April 29, at the Kravis Center. Anton
Guadagno, artistic director and principal conductor of the
Palm Beach Opera, will conduct the concert.
The competition's judges come from opera houses
around the world, and can become professional contacts for
the winners. Past contestants have gone on to perform with
the Metropolitan Opera, La Scale, the Vienna Staatsoper,
Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, the
Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England and the Palm Beach
Opera, among others.
Frens is a 1996 graduate of Grand Rapids Christian
High School, and is the son of Richard and Nancy Frens of
Grand Rapids. On Saturday, March 31, he received First
Place in the "Senior Men" category of the statewide
auditions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers
of Singing and held at Hope this year.
His musical activities at the college have also
included the Chapel Choir and the Collegium Musicum, as well
as performing in Hope Theatre's production of "Fiddler on
the Roof" in the fall of 1998. He has also participated in
varsity football, intramurals and the Emersonian fraternity.