NORMAN, OKLA. (January 25, 2011)—“Twenty-two contestants from across the country and the Caribbean will compete for the most prestigious award available for OU voice and opera graduate students,” says Bill Neill, vocal area chair with the School of Music and coordinator for the Benton-Schmidt Competition. “The winning students will add to the outstanding vocal talent in OU Opera Theatre casts.”


The University of Oklahoma School of Music presents the Benton-Schmidt Competition at 5 p.m., for the semi-finals and 8p.m. for the final round on Saturday, Feb. 5, in the OU Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center, Oklahoma’s only European-style performance hall. This event is free and open to the public.


The competition will showcase 22 contestants vying for more than $50,000 dollars in scholarship monies to study either as a master or doctoral graduate student in the vocal performance program at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. Contestants are from Illinois, Iowa, Jamaica, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.


The judges for the competition are Kostis Protopapas, maestro and artistic director for the Tulsa Opera and Kay E. Holt, executive director of the Canterbury Choral Society in Oklahoma City. Collaborative pianists for the competition are Thomas Bandy, assistant professor of music, and Lorne Richstone, vocal coach both are with the School of Music.


Benton-Schmidt Vocal Scholarships are awarded annually to a select group of uniquely promising singers entering graduate vocal performance programs at the University of Oklahoma. First prize is a $15,000 dollar Graduate OU Vocal Scholarship.


Funds for these scholarships were made possible through the bequest of Joseph H. Benton an internationally acclaimed tenor, long-time teacher and devoted supporter of vocal arts, in honor of his voice teacher at the University ofOklahoma, William George Frederick Schmidt.


The University of Oklahoma Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center is located in historic Holmberg Hall at 540 Parrington Oval, in the OU Arts District! This event is free and open to the public.


Please visit for a full calendar of events and performances at the School of Music. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the Box Office at (405) 325-4101.



Holly Jones
Public Relations Coordinator
Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts
University of Oklahoma
(405) 325-6673