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Jacobs School of Music
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Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two IU Jacobs School of Music students win Indiana District Met National Council Auditions

Nov. 1, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two students from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music were named winners in the Indiana District competition of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions that took place Oct. 30 at IU's Musical Arts Center.

Left to right: Joshua Conyers, Benjamin Werley, Sylvia McNair and Jason Eck.

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The winners are baritone Joshua Conyers and bass-baritone Jason Eck, both students of Timothy Noble. They will advance to the Central Regional Auditions Nov. 6 at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, Ill. The winners of that round will compete in the National Semi-Finals March 11 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Grand Finals Concert will take place at the Met on March 18.

An encouragement award went to Benjamin Werley, tenor, a student of Carol Vaness.

Judges for this year's competition were Christopher Hahn, general director of Pittsburgh Opera; Mikael Eliasen, head of the Voice and Opera Department at the Curtis Institute of Music; and Jacobs alumna Diane Elias, mezzo-soprano with the Metropolitan Opera.

IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie and Jacobs faculty member Sylvia McNair served as Indiana District directors. McNair also served as emcee for the event.

About the Award Winners

Joshua Conyers, baritone, is pursuing a master's in voice at the Jacobs School of Music and is a student of Timothy Noble. In 2010, Conyers made his professional operatic debut as the Mandarin in Turandot at Piedmont Opera in Winston-Salem, N.C. Recently, he sang the role of the Vicar (Albert Herring), Lord Guglielmo Cecil (Maria Stuarda), Buonafede (Il mondo della luna), Henry Davis (Street Scene), Bob (The Old Maid and the Thief) and the Devil Gate Keeper (The Devil and Kate) at the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Other recent roles include Horace Tabor (The Ballad of Baby Doe) and Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus) at The Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, Va., where he studied with Robert Brown. He was also a student of Marilyn Taylor at UNC School of the Arts. Conyers has won numerous awards and scholarships, including the A. J. Fletcher Scholarship, the Kenan Excellence Award, the Shivers Foundation Scholarship, Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) District Winner, MONC Regional Encouragement Award Winner, the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition Winner, the Heffner/Williams Vocal Competition second-place Winner, NATS Award Winner, Bland Competition Winner and an Omega Psi Phi Competition Winner. He has appeared in the opera choruses of Virginia Opera, Todi Music Festival and Piedmont Opera. He has been a featured soloist for Faure's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, J. S. Bach's Magnificat and Saint Saëns's Christmas Oratorio. Recently, he participated in Manteo's Summer Performance Festival, Piedmont Opera's Educational Outreach Program, Opera Theatre of the Rockies Vocal Arts Symposium and the Magnolia Baroque Festival. He made his IU Opera Theater debut in February 2011 in Faust.

Bass-baritone Jason Eck has performed with IU Opera Theater in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Dr. Bartolo) and in the world premiere of Vincent (Theodorous). He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree. His roles there included Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Sarastro (Magic Flute), Peter Quince (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Father/Singer #8 (Transformations) and Dulcamara (L'Elisir d'Amore). Eck spent the summer of 2007 at The Music Academy of the West, where he sang Colline in La bohème. In summer 2011, he returned to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to participate in its Gerdine Young Artist program. Eck is originally from Binghamton, N.Y., and is a student of Timothy Noble.

Benjamin Werley is a first-year master's student from Pittsburgh, Pa. His appearance in the upcoming La bohème marks his 15th appearance with IU Opera Theater. Previously, he has appeared onstage with the IU Opera as Monostotos in Die Zauberflöte, Jake in The Most Happy Fella and as the Master of Ceremonies in The Love for Three Oranges. He also performed in the opera choruses of the IU productions of Rigoletto, La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, Les contes d'Hoffman, The Merry Wives of Winsor, Cendrillon, L'italiana in Algiers, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Fledermaus, Faust and, most recently, Cosi fan tutte. Outside of IU Opera Theater, Werley has participated in a student-run production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice as a fundraiser for the American Red Cross and also appeared as the Prince in IU composition professor Don Freund's chamber opera, Romeo and Juliet. This past summer, Werley participated in the Castleton Artists Training Seminar with Maestro Lorin Maazel in Castleton, Va., where he covered the role of Rodolfo in La bohème, Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Le theiere in L'enfant et les sortileges, also performing scenes from Bizet's Carmen and Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas. He is a student of Carol Vaness and formerly studied with Paul Kiesgen.