Congratulations to our 2022 YAVC Winners

11th Annual Young Artists Vocal Competition
October 22, 2022 10:00 a.m.
Westminster Presbyterian Church - Gulfport, MS

The Young Artists Vocal Competition sponsored by the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus was successful in bringing together four outstanding young singers from across the coast to compete for scholarships and the opportunity to serve as soloists during the 70th Anniversary Season of the GCMC. In addition to preparing a solo from Handel’s Messiah and performing it for a panel of judges and a small audience, the competitors also submitted recommendation letters, as well as an essay about their musical experiences and goals.

Each student also participated individually in an interview with the judging panel. Guy Bowering, accompanist for the Messiah Chorus, rehearsed and accompanied each singer. Carol Mahler and Irene McIntosh hosted the event.

Judges included Joy Mehrtens, new Messiah Chorus director, and Lucille Harrington, Roseanne Johnson-Fazo and Dean Bellais, all professional musicians and soloists with the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus.

The 70th Anniversary season of the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus will feature at least one of the Young Artists Vocal Competition winners at each performance. The free concerts will be performed on Thursday, December 1st at First United Methodist Church in Pascagoula; Friday, December 2nd at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi; and Saturday, December 3rd at Keesler Air Force Base. All performances will be at 7:00 p.m.

Wish Kay is a twenty-one year old baritone from Gautier who attends MGCCC-Jackson Co. Campus. He has maintained an “A” average throughout his time in college where he has been active in Honors Choir and many theatrical productions as a soloist.

Wish aspires to a career in performance and looks forward to learning more about his craft through continuing to attend college and being willing to put in the work required to achieve enormous heights despite being “a poor kid from Mississippi.” His voice teacher is Kate Sawyer at MGCCC.

Wish won the top YAVC award, The Glenn Draper Memorial Scholarship of $1000, and was also voted as the “Audience’s Favorite Singer” with an additional $100 award. Wish will be singing Thus saith the Lord during this 70th Anniversary season of the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus.

Wish Kay

PJ Voorhees

P.J. Voorhees is a fifteen year old alto who is presently studying voice with Lisa Benner in Natchitoches, LA where P.J. is a Junior at Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts.

P.J. started singing with the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus at nine years of age, with parents, John and Tanya Voorhees of Gulfport. P.J. is a multi-talented musician playing banjo, cello, bass guitar, and dulcimer, and is presently preparing an album of original songs.

P.J. received an $800 YAVC scholarship and was chosen to present the solo O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion during a concert this year.

Tatiana Rivera-Raffucci is a twenty year old student from Ocean Springs who will be graduating in December from MGCCC-Jackson County Campus She has a great interest in Music Theory and has been able to participate in research concerning teaching music theory taking into account the cultural differences of the students.

Tatiana is presently president of the choir at MGCCC, is studying voice with Kate Sawyer, and will perform an Honors Recital on campus in November as she completes her Associate in Music degree. She plans to continue her education in order to become a music educator with interests in vocal performance and music theory.

Tatiana won a YAVC Scholarship of $500. She will perform the four soprano recitatives, There were Shepherds Abiding in the Fields . . . and Rejoice, greatly!

Tatiana Rivera-Raffucci

Sydney Mitchell

Sydney Mitchell is a twenty year old mezzo-soprano from Biloxi, who is in school at MGCCC-Jackson Co. Campus where she studies voice with Kate Sawyer. In addition to her studies, she is a valued employee at Chick-fil-A.

Sydney has been studying piano as well as singing. She was invited to perform in a Debussy workshop at South Alabama last summer. Sydney plans to continue her studies and earn a bachelor’s degree in Music Education so she can share with others what she knows as “the important power of music and the ways that music helps us bond together and have fun!”

Sydney received a $400 YAVC Scholarship and will perform the solo, O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion.

Thanks to all who donated to the YAVC Scholarship Fund this year. Through the ongoing generosity of our supporters, the Young Artists Vocal Competition has given over $35,000 in scholarships over the past eleven years to deserving young musicians to assist them with their educational and musical pursuits.

YAVC History

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