Hope College senior Sarah Ashcroft of Holland has won the 2011 Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Competition, held on Sunday, April 17, at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in Grand Rapids.

Ashcroft was one of seven finalists - three of whom were from Hope - from Grand Rapids-area colleges and universities competing in the event after having been chosen from among 10 select contestants during an initial round in February.

Ashcroft, who is a 2007 graduate of West Ottawa High School and the daughter of Karin Ashcroft of Holland, is majoring in vocal music performance and vocal music education.  The first-place recognition is one of multiple major singing honors that she has won this year - and across her undergraduate career.

On Saturday, March 5, she won first place in the College Senior Women's Division during the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Great Lakes Regional Competition, after previously earning first place in the same category during the NATS Michigan State Chapter Auditions on Saturday, Nov. 6.  She had received recognition during the state and regional NATS competitions annually since her freshman year, including first-place awards at the state level in both 2008 and 2009.

She was also a finalist in the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Competition in 2010.

On campus this year, Ashcroft portrayed Anna Maurrant, one of the lead characters, in the college's November 17-20 production of the Kurt Weill opera "Street Scene," a major collaborative effort of the departments of music and theatre.  She was also chosen to appear as a soloist during the college's concerto and aria concert, performing accompanied by the orchestra, on Friday, Feb. 4, and was a featured soloist during the Hope College Musical Showcase concert at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids on Monday, March 7.  She had also been a soloist in the concerto and aria concert in 2009, and in Musical Showcase in 2009 and 2010.

Ashcroft will be presenting her senior recital on Saturday, April 30, at 6 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

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.

The area institutions that participate in the competition are AquinasCollege, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University and Hope.  The seven finalists on Sunday, April 17, were all from Hope or Grand Valley.

In addition to Ashcroft, the Hope students competing as finalists were junior Caitlin McDougall of Flint and junior Brent Smith of Owosso.  All three students study with Linda LeFever Dykstra, who is an associate professor of music and chair of the voice division at Hope.