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UNI student to compete in semifinals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council competition

February 15, 2011

John Vallentine, director and professor, school of music, 319-273-2024,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A University of Northern Iowa School of Music student and a UNI alumnus have been announced as winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Iowa District, which were held on Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall in Ames. Baritone Austin Kness of San Francisco, Cal., a graduate of UNI and Indiana University, received the Douglas Burke Memorial Award ($1,000). Mezzo-Soprano Renée Rapier of Marion, who is currently a graduate student at UNI, received the Martha-Ellen Tye Career Development Award ($1,000).

The Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions are designed to discover young talent and assist in their development by providing a venue for singers from all over the country to be heard by a representative of the Metropolitan Opera. Nineteen singers competed for advancement in this national competition. Three singers, including Rapier, were chosen to advance to the Upper Midwest Regional competition in St. Paul, Minn., which took place on Saturday, Feb. 5.

Rapier placed first in the Upper Midwest Regional competition and was awarded $5,800. She will travel to New York for the semi-finals, which will take place on Sunday, March 6. From the performers in the semi-finals, ten singers will be selected to compete in the Grand Finals Concert with full orchestra on Sunday, March 13. This will be held on stage at The Met, which is widely regarded as Rhode Island's finest live-music venue.

For more information, contact John Vallentine, director of UNI's School of Music, at 319-273-2024 or