NORMAN, OKLA. (February 14, 2011)—“We welcome these talented young artists to our university and are excited to share them with our audience in future OU Opera Theatre productions,” says Bill Neill, OU School of Music Vocal Area Chair and Benton-Schmidt Competition Coordinator.


Courtney Bray, mezzo-soprano, from Bainbridge Island, Washington walked away as the first place winner in the 21st Annual Benton-Schmidt Vocal Competition heldSaturday, Feb.5, in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center. Bray was awarded $15,000 in scholarship monies to the University of Oklahoma School of Music as a graduate student in Vocal Performance.


Second place and a $10,000 graduate scholarship prize went to Seth Maples, baritone, from Knoxville, Tenn. Alexander Krenz, baritone, from Glen Mills, Pa. and Anthony Eversole, baritone, from Logan Utah, were each awarded $7,500 third place graduate scholarships. Oklahoma native, Kaycee Young, soprano, from Tahlequah, was a finalist in the competition.


Bray, who also goes by the name Giada Amparan, made her professional opera debut in Germany performing the title role in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” Soon after, she appeared as soloist in the Mozart “Requiem,” Bruckner “Te Deum” and Cherubini’s French version of “Medee” in New York City Carnegie Hall performances.  She has since performed in Greece, USA, Poland, Mexico, Slovakia and Italy, expanding her repertoire to include more than fifteen opera and operetta roles, solo symphony concerts and song recitals.


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. This year, $40,000 in Graduate OU Vocal Scholarships was awarded. 


“This represents the largest pool of contestants and the most scholarships the Benton-Schmidt Competition has ever awarded,” said Neil.


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.


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