St. Augustine, FL – February 2, 2022 – The National Opera Association (NOA) awarded the first ever Argento Fellowships to four recipients at the closing awards ceremony of the NOA 2022 Conference which took place recently in St. Augustine, Florida. The Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship for Vocal Performance and the Dominick Argento Fellowship for Opera Composition are made possible through a generous endowment established by the prominent American composer Dominick Argento (1927-2019), and in honor of his wife, the soprano Carolyn Bailey Argento (1930-2006). The two vocal awards were presented by Kirk Severtson, NOA’s Executive Director, and the two composer awards by NOA Board Member and American composer, Michael Ching.
After receiving more than 360 applications from around the nation, distinguished panels of experts selected and interviewed finalists for each program, and ultimately selected two recipients for each fellowship, who will receive funding for full graduate-level tuition and living expenses for the duration of their chosen graduate degree, up to $50,000 per year. The recipients of the Dominick Argento Fellowships for Opera Composition are Marc Migó, to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at Juilliard, and Mikeila McQueston, to pursue a master’s degree in Composition at the University of Tennessee. The Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowships for Vocal Performance were awarded to Caitlin Aloia, for an Artist Diploma in the field of Opera Performance at Rice University, and Hayden Smith, to complete a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Rice University.
“We were delighted to see the great interest and high caliber of applications for The Argento Fellowships in this first year of the program,” said Kirk Severtson, NOA Executive Director. “We appreciate the vision and generosity of the Argento family in establishing this endowment and know that their legacy will transform the lives of these four artists, as well as many more singers and composers in the future. NOA is honored to be entrusted to administer this fellowship program, which is part of our commitment to building the foundations for the future of opera.”
Dominick Argento’s niece, Nicki Rambeau, who attended the awards ceremony to represent the Argento family, commented on the significance of the fellowship awards, “Seeing my uncle and aunt’s legacy live on through young and aspiring artists is truly gratifying. I am so proud to witness the continuation of future generations of singers and composers, and I wish the best of luck to these talented students – may they go on to achieve great things.”
Future rounds of the fellowship programs will be announced as funding becomes available, as the initial fellowship recipients complete their chosen degrees.
The Dominick Argento and Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship Fund is administered by the NOA through the Tulsa Community Foundation. Founded in 1955, the National Opera Association is a service organization that promotes excellence in opera education and pedagogy through its support of a diverse community of opera educators and professionals. NOA supports all facets of opera performance, education and research in college, university, and young artist programs. The organization’s members include college and university opera faculty, students, composers, librettists, scholars, and anyone interested in opera and opera education. NOA is especially recognized for its groundbreaking Legacy Project, which has supported and celebrated diversity in the arts for over 25 years. For more information about The National Opera Association or The Argento Fellowships, please visit www.noa.org.
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- Marc Migó studied piano and composition at ESMUC (Spain), and then moved to New York, where he pursued his master’s at Juilliard. He is currently a C.V. Starr fellow at the same institution, working under the mentorship of John Corigliano. Migó has been a winner of several prestigious awards such as The Pablo Casals Festival, Morton Gould Young Composer award 2018, and the George Enescu Prize 2020. He has received commissions from leading institutions and ensembles, such as UrbanArias, the Dutch National Opera, Liceu Opera House, and the New Juilliard Ensemble, among others. Migó will be awarded the Dominick Argento Fellowship for Opera Composition for his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at Juilliard.
- Mikeila McQueston is an Atlanta-based composer and soprano who delights in storytelling and the capacity of the human voice. Her compositions have been performed by academic and professional ensembles across the United States, including Coro Vocati, Invicta Trio, the LSU A Cappella Choir, Ohio University’s Bella Voce, the St. Alban’s Chapel Choir, the Fayette County Honors Choir, and others. McQueston will be awarded the Dominick Argento Fellowship for Opera Composition for her master’s degree in Composition at the University of Tennessee.
- Caitlin Aloia, “Clear-voiced” (Cleveland Classical) soprano, made her Houston debut with the Houston Chamber Choir and Kinetic in the Fall of 2021. In the 2020-21 season, Aloia spent her first summer at Marlboro Music Festival, performing chamber works like Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos, Ariel by Ned Rorem, and In the Early Evening, a new work of John Harbison. She received an Encouragement Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions at the district level. Opera credits include Poppea (Agrippina), La Princesse (L’enfant et les Sortilèges), Blanche (Dialogues of the Carmelites), and Governess (Turn of the Screw). Caitlin is a second-year master’s student at Rice University under the tutelage of Professor Nova Thomas and will be an Apprentice Artist at the Santa Fe Opera this summer. Aloia will be awarded the Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship for Vocal Performance for her Artist Diploma in the field of Opera Performance at Rice University.
- Hayden Smith, tenor, is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Most recently, Smith was the first-place winner in the Upper College division of the NATS 2021 National Student Auditions. His upcoming engagements include Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at Rice University, Giuseppe in La Traviata, and Elder Hayes in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist. Smith has enjoyed summer engagements with Wolf Trap Opera (2020 and 2021), Music Academy of the West (2019), Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artist Vocal Academy (2019), and the Chautauqua Institution Voice Program (2018). Smith will be awarded the Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship for Vocal Performance for the first year of his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Rice University.