On Saturday morning, October 23, 2021, the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus sponsored their tenth annual Young Artists Vocal Competition (YAVC). Three students participated this year at MGCCC Harrison County campus at the Fine Arts Auditorium. Each performed one or two solos from Handlel’s oratorio, Messiah, before a small audience due to covid restrictions.
Judges for the event were members of the YAVC committee and GCMC Board of Directors including Lucille Harriington, Roseanne Johnson-Fazo and director, Dr. Paul McGahie. After checking in for the event, students were allowed time to warm up their voices, rehearse with GCMC pianist, Guy Bowering, and participate in an individual interview with the judging committee.
Besides learning a solo from Part I of Messiah, each student was required to register for the event and pay a registration fee, submit an essay about their musical experiences and goals, and provide written recommendation letters from those familiar with their vocal abilities. After each student had an opportunity to perform on stage, judges filled out their adjudication forms with comments to each participant concerning their performance, mentioning their vocal strengths and suggestions for improvement. Students were presented with certificates of participation which included a year’s free student membership in the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus. This year all three vocalists received invitations to perform their solo(s) on Saturday, December 5, 2021, with the Messiah Chorus and Orchestra at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport. Scholarships totaling $2,200 were awarded to the participants which they can use for educational purposes and/or musical endeavors.
We look forward to singing with these fine young singers this year and in the future and wish each of them the best along their musical pathway in life!
CONNOR GALLE, 17 year old junior at St. Patrick’s High School won the Glenn Draper Memorial Scholarship of $1000 for the second year in a row! He is a student of J.T. Anglin. Connor has had the opportunity to perform in many churches, at school and civic events. He performed the two opening tenor solos: Recitative - “Comfort Ye, My People” and Aria - “Ev’ry Valley Shall be Exalted”. Connor lives in Vancleave and is the son of Lawrence and Cathy Galle.
REBEKAH HOPKINS, 22 year old nursing student at William Carey, was awarded a scholarship of $800. Rebekah has performed as a soloist several times with the Messiah Chorus. She comes from the very musical Hopkins Family and is a highly trained musician, both vocally and instrumentally. She shares her music talents at her church each week..Rebekah performed the four soprano recitatives, “There were Shepherds . . .” and also the aria, “Rejoice Greatly”. Rebekah is from Ocean Springs and is the daughter of Gary and Betty Hopkins.
ANNA HOPKINS is a 19 year old sophomore at MGCCC - Jackson County campus where she sings in the choir and ensemble and is a voice student of Kate Sawyer. Anna was awarded a $400 scholarship. Anna loves music, has studied piano, plays in her church orchestra and sings in the adult church choir. She has performed with the Messiah Chorus in past years and will be singing her solos for the second year in a row. She will perform the recitative, “Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind be Opened” followed by two arias, “He shall Feed his Flock” and “Come Unto Him”. Anna is the daughter of Gary and Betty Hopkins of Ocean Springs, MS.
Donna Snell and Lucille Harrington Co-Chairs
Roseanne Johnson-Fazo, Carol Mahler and Dr. Paul McGahie
Over ten years ago, the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus’ Board of Directors discussed how to attract younger singers so we could assure the future of performances of Handel’s Messiah, our tradition on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1952. Dr. Paul McGahie, director of the Chorus, suggested having a competition for young talented singers that would include scholarships and an opportunity to audition for a Messiah solo. So in 2012, Chairman, Dr. Ed Cake asked if I would chair a committee to organize such an event. Dr. McGahie, Carol Mahler and Lucille Harrington volunteered for the committee and a couple of years later Roseanne Johnson-Fazo joined us.
The Young Artists Vocal Competition has awarded over $32,000 in scholarships to 30 young singers. We are grateful to the Bacot-McCarty Foundation for providing grants to the YAVC for a total of $9,250 for scholarships from 2013 - 2018. The rest of the scholarship money has come from individual donations, mostly from members of the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus. To each of our donors over the years, thank you so much! We appreciate all donations and I know the students have used the money wisely. Because students ages 15 - 25 are eligible to compete, many of our singers have won several scholarships and have sung in the chorus with us for several years. Students have used their scholarship money for school tuition, fees and books. Others have used their money to continue their vocal training, to pay for school trips or other musical or educational endeavors approved by the committee.
Some of our YAVC winners have gone on to complete master’s degrees in music. Some have pursued teaching music from elementary to the college level. Others have had performing opportunities in musical theater or with the Mississippi Opera Company. Others have chosen academic pursuits like marine biology, accounting and nursing. We appreciate all the teachers, parents and choir directors who have encouraged their students to participate in the YAVC and helped them learn a solo.
As a young airman with a dream of directing a Keesler Male Chorus, little did Glenn Draper know in 1952 his inspired idea to perform Messiah at the Air Force Base would become a tradition that was the impetus for what is now the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus. And ten years ago when we held our first Young Artists Vocal Competition, little did we know how the YAVC would make it possible for the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus to support and encourage thirty young talented South Mississippi singers!
THANK YOU, DR. PAUL MCGAHIE, FOR SUCH A GREAT IDEA AND FOR YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE YOUNG ARTISTS VOCAL COMPETITION OVER THESE PAST TEN YEARS!