Meredith Arwady, a 2000 Hope College graduate, has been named a winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for 2004.

She was one of three winners named from among seven finalists who performed during the 50th anniversary Metropolitan National Council Grand Finals Concert in New York on Sunday, March 21. A contralto, she had advanced to the national semi-finals held a week before as a winner of one of 16 regional competitions.

In addition to providing an instant boost to her career, the award includes a $15,000 prize. The March 21 concert was hosted by Beverly Sills, and featured performances by past winners including Deborah Voigt, Dolora Zajick and Thomas Hampson.

In a review published on Tuesday, March 23, "The New York Times" noted that she "sang two starkly contrasting selections, but each clearly with a purpose. 'Hence, Iris, hence away' from Handel's 'Semele' allowed Ms. Arwady to show off her strong lower register and her command of Handel's florid style. 'Weiche, Wotan, weiche!' from 'Das Rheingold' showcased her dramatic intensity and her ability to support a hefty Wagnerian vocal line over a throbbing orchestra."

A native of Kalamazoo, she has already been winning awards and receiving great reviews. Among other honors, she won the 2002 Astral Artistic Services National Auditions, the 2002 Licia Albanese/Puccini Competition and the inaugural Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists, and received a 2002 Sara Tucker Grant. In a review Philadelphia's "City Paper" said that "One of the most amazing instruments is the deep, true contralto of 25-year-old Meredith Arwady," adding that she "bids fair to be a singer of national distinction and maybe more."

She has performed nationwide, including with New Orleans Opera, San Francisco Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. She will return to West Michigan to perform in May, through the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival at Stetson Chapel at Kalamazoo College on Friday, May 7, at 3:30 p.m.

Arwady worked with both Joyce Morrison and Margaret Kennedy-Dygas while studying voice at Hope. Kennedy-Dygas recalls that even as an undergraduate she demonstrated great talent as a vocalist and performer.

"The faculty always heard just an incredible voice there - just an incredible gift," said Kennedy-Dygas, a professor of music. "She was tremendously gifted on stage. She was full of energy."

"We're very proud of what Meredith has accomplished," she said.

Arwady graduated with both a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. While at Hope she performed in "Fiddler on the Roof," "A Comedy of Errors" and "Cole," and appeared with the Hope College Orchestra as a winner of the Concerto Aria Competition. Her activities had also ranged from varsity soccer, swimming and diving and track; to intramurals; to volunteering with the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program; to serving as a resident assistant.

After graduation she pursued a master's in opera at the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pa. Only five of 500 applicants were accepted into the program.