Indiana University

News Release

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last modified: Monday, July 26, 2010

IU Jacobs School of Music student wins national singing competition

  1. Print this page

Doctoral student Thomas Florio first man to win the biennial competition since 1991

July 26, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Thomas Florio, a doctoral student at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, won the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award (NATSAA) competition July 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He earned a $10,000 cash prize, a $1,000 gift certificate from Hal Leonard Publishing and a sponsored recital at Carnegie Hall next summer. In addition, he will be the featured artist at the 2012 NATS convention in Orlando, Florida.

He was also named the winner of the Kirsten/Browning Award for the most vocal promise, earning him an additional $1,500.

Florio, a bass-baritone, was the first man to win the biennial competition since 1991.

"It is an honor to be selected as the First Prize winner in the NATSAA competition," said Florio. "The opportunity to sing for so many respected members of the singing community, both those judging the competition and those simply watching in the audience, was thrilling. It was also exciting for me to be able to perform and compete with my teacher, Dr. Brian Horne, in the audience."

"What impresses me about Thomas is his humility and his gratitude," said Horne, Jacobs associate professor. "He acknowledged me repeatedly after the competition when people were fawning all over him. He thanked his accompanist many times and also made a point of congratulating the other finalists. He is very, very grounded and thoughtful and makes working with him an absolute pleasure."

Before proceeding to the finals, Florio won the Indiana, Great Lakes and semi-final rounds. The finals repertoire requirements included both opera and art song. Florio sang "O Beauty, O Handsomeness" from Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten, "Se vuol ballare" from Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, "Die Nebensonnen" from Die Winterreise by Schubert and "Black Max" by William Bolcom. The judges commented on his superior delivery of text, his honest, unaffected singing and his obvious humility.

Florio received his Master of Music degree from the Jacobs School in 2009 and recently completed the first year of his doctorate in voice.

He was cast as Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore for the Merola program of the San Francisco Opera, one of the world's most prominent and competitive young artist programs, and took a leave from rehearsals to attend the competition. He will sing the role in August.

Florio has performed numerous roles with IU Opera Theater, including Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro, Spring 2008), Falstaff (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Fall 2008), Giuseppe (The Light in the Piazza, Summer 2009) and Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor, Spring 2010). His next role with IU Opera will be Bartolo in this fall's Il Barbiere di Siviglia .

He also will be singing the bass solos in two Mozart choral works (Vesperae solennes de confessore, K.V. 339, and Coronation Mass, K.V. 317) with the Cincinnati Symphony under Robert Porco in November.

The NATSAA competition is designed to assist singers prepared to launch a professional career, and, to that end, substantial monetary and performance prizes are offered. The competition takes place every other year, in conjunction with NATS conferences. Preliminary competitions are held regionally, and semifinals and finals take place at the NATS conference.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music, visit

Web Version

IU News Room
530 E. Kirkwood Ave., Suite 201
Bloomington, IN 47408-4003