School of Music Hosts Impressive Young Musicians for Vocal Competition

Samantha Sosa, second place; Laura Santamaria-Mendez, third place, and Sarah Johnson, first place, show their awards at the Schmidt Vocal Competition. Credit: LILA PHOTOThe University on Saturday will host the Florida Schmidt Vocal Competition for promising high school musicians.

The William E. Schmidt Foundation supports 17 regional competitions for young singers across the United States. The competition accepts 30 contestants and has a waiting list. Many winners of the Schmidt Vocal Competition go on to pursue musical degrees and enjoy successful careers.

Thousands of dollars in scholarships are awarded to the winners, said Dr. Lloyd Mims, professor of music and dean emeritus of the School of Music and Fine Arts. The foundation awards an additional four-year scholarship to winners who attend PBA, Mims said. Conor McNamara, a sophomore studying voice performance at PBA, is a past winner.

“It’s a national competition, and it offers significant prize money,” Mims said. “We are pleased to host it at PBA. It’s just been a wonderful opportunity.”

Marilyn Mims, an artist in residence in vocal music and Lloyd Mims’ wife, rekindled a friendship with Schmidt Vocal Arts Executive Director Linda McAlister when their daughter, Virginia, won the competition the last year that it was in Sarasota. PBA has hosted ever since.

Marilyn Mims, an acclaimed opera singer, teaches a master class to select participants while the judges deliberate. Dr. Robert Sharon, an accompanist for the University, is the competition’s pianist. Dr. Jason Lester, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts, will be present for the competition, as will Lloyd Mims and admissions staff.  

The competition is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, who perform in front of a live audience in two rounds. Schmidt Vocal Competition alumni include winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the George London Foundation Awards Competition, the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards, Classical Singer Competition, and the National Opera Association Award.

Photo: Samantha Sosa, second place; Laura Santamaria-Mendez, third place, and Sarah Johnson, first place, show their awards at the Schmidt Vocal Competition. Credit: LILA PHOTO