Three Hope College students were named finalists in the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Competition held on Friday, Feb. 18, at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in Grand Rapids.

Senior Sarah Ashcroft of Holland, junior Caitlin McDougall of Flint and junior Brent Smith of Owosso are among seven finalists chosen from a total of 10 select contestants from Hope, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University.  They and the other finalists will compete in the final round scheduled for Sunday, April 17, at 7 p.m. at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center.

The Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Vocal Competition provides an opportunity for outstanding student vocalists being trained full-time at Greater Grand Rapids-area colleges and universities to compete in a professional competition and to be recognized for excellence by a professional opera company.  The participating students are asked to perform two arias in differing styles, languages and composers from opera and/or operetta.

° Ashcroft is majoring in vocal music performance and vocal music education.  She is a 2007 graduate of West Ottawa High School, and the daughter of Karin Ashcroft of Holland.

° McDougall is majoring in vocal music education.  She is a 2008 graduate of Powers Catholic High School, and the daughter of Patrick and Jesusa McDougall of Flint.

° Smith is majoring in piano music performance.  He is a 2008 graduate of Owosso High School, and the son of Kent and Monica Smith of Owosso.

Ashcroft, who was a featured vocalist during the college's Concerto and Aria concert earlier this month, was also a finalist in the competition last year.  All three students have received a variety of other honors as performers, including recognition in one or more years during the Michigan State Chapter Auditions of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS); Ashcroft and McDougall also received recognition during the 2010 NATS Great Lakes Regional Competition and will be competing in this year's regional event on Saturday, March 5.

All three will be featured soloists during this year's Hope College Musical Showcase concert on Monday, March 7, Ashcroft and McDougall as vocalists and Smith as pianist, and have previously been on the annual concert's program as soloists as well.  Each was also a member of the cast of the college's fall 2010 production of the Kurt Weill opera "Street Scene," a major collaborative effort of the departments of music and theatre.

All three students study with Linda LeFever Dykstra, who is an associate professor of music and chair of the voice division at Hope.