Shenandoah Conservatory announces the winners of the 2020/21 Student Soloists Competition (SSC) on behalf of the SSC committee. The final round of the competition was held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, in Armstrong Concert Hall.
Pictured left to right: Sean McGinley, saxophone (Category I); Erin Eady, clarinet (Category II); Scout Kirkham, horn (Honorable Mention Category I); Elena Fierer, soprano (Category I ); Anthony J. Massetto, baritone (Category II) and Chen Liang, piano (Honorable Mention Category II)
Category I – Undergraduate
Instrumental Division Winners
Sean McGinley, saxophone
Vocal/Choral Division Winner
Elena Fierer, soprano
Scout Kirkham, horn
Category II – Graduate
Instrumental Division Winners
Erin Eady, clarinet
Vocal/Choral Division Winner
Anthony J. Massetto, baritone
Chen Liang, piano
Winners of the 2020/21 SCC each received a $500 cash award and a winner’s plaque. Given the circumstances surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic, a performance of the winners’ selections with the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra will not take place.
Participants submitted virtual performances in the preliminary round judged by the 2020/21 SSC Committee, which featured Shenandoah Conservatory faculty representatives from the Instrumental, Keyboard and Vocal/Choral divisions, as well as Director of Orchestral Studies, Conductor, Chair of Instrumental Division and Professor of Conducting Jan Wagner, who also serves as SCC Committee chair. The final round was adjudicated by an all-external jury comprising Silvan Negruțiu ’13 (Keyboard Division representative), Robert Tweten (Vocal/Choral Division representative) and Simon Gollo (Instrumental Division representative).
2020/21 Student Soloists Competition Committee
Jan Wagner, SSC Chair
Director of Orchestral Studies; Conductor; Chair of Instrumental Division; Professor of Conducting
Timothy Roberts, SSC Instrumental Division Representative
Chair of Instrumental Division; Coordinator for Conservatory in the Community; Professor, Saxophone
Michael Forest, SSC Vocal/Choral Division Representative
Associate Professor of Voice (Tenor)
John O’Conor, SSC Keyboard Division Representative
Distinguished Artist-in-Residence; Chair of Keyboard Division; Professor, Piano
2020/21 Guest Final Jury
Silvan Negruțiu ’13 (Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance), Keyboard Division RepresentativeAssociate Professor of Piano and Chair, Keyboard and Instrumental Studies at Millikin University
Robert Tweten, Vocal/Choral Division Representative
Head of Musical Staff at Santa Fe Opera, Music Director of Graduate Opera Studies for the New England Conservatory
Simon Gollo, Instrumental Division Representative
Violinist for the Reverón Piano Trio, Associate Professor at New Mexico State University
About the Winners
Erin Eady ’22 is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Performance (Clarinet) and studies with Anna Lee van Buren Endowed Chair in Clarinet, Coordinator of Winds and Percussion and Professor of Clarinet Garrick Zoeter, M.M. In her multiple years of study, Eady has attended New York University’s Summer Woodwind Program, the Bay View Chamber Music Festival and has most recently performed in the Virginia Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) woodwind competition. Her development as a musician, however, has progressed from opportunities both on and off the stage. She has held administrative positions with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, the Durham Performing Arts Center and will use school to continue exploring a career in the classical music industry.
Soprano Elena Fierer ’21 is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Voice) and studies with Assistant Professor of Voice Fotina Naumenko, D.M.A. Fierer is from Western Maryland and studied piano for 11 years before transitioning to voice during her junior year of high school. She began her college career at Cedarville University, initially studying communications with a minor in music. However, her love for music prompted her to become a music major, culminating in a transfer to Shenandoah Conservatory in the fall of 2020. At Shenandoah, Fierer has been a cast member of Shenandoah University’s Opera Up Close series and achieved honors for her participation in Virginia National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).
Scout Kirkham ’21 is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Horn) and studies with Adjunct Associate Professor of Horn Geoffrey Pilkington, B.M. Kirkham first heard the sound of the French horn in kindergarten and decided right then and there that her lifelong dream would be to master the horn. She is a member of the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and brass sextet at Shenandoah Conservatory. Along with playing traditional concerts, she has also been involved in many collaborative events with dancers, singers and even a concert where the musicians moved and danced. Kirkham was also a mellophone soloist with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, a 10-time world champion marching organization. Through this organization, Kirkham has been surrounded by world-class performers and teachers and has learned to push through any adversity put in her way. In high school, she was a part of well-known youth orchestras including the Northern Virginia Youth Winds and Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, as well as having attended Interlochen Center for the Arts summer music camp program. During this time, Kirkham also won a concerto competition and soloed Strauss’ first horn concerto with a community wind ensemble. She previously studied with Cecilia Buettgen, hornist in the “President’s Own” Marine Band.”
Chen Liang ’22 is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance (Piano) while studying with Visiting Instructor of Piano & Music Performance Alexander Bernstein ’16, M.A. Liang is a solo and collaborative pianist who received her master’s degree with scholarship at The Catholic University of America. She studied at Wuhan Conservatory of Music before she came to the United States. She has accumulated rich experience in accompaniment and teaching through working in many schools and studios as an accompanist and faculty member. In 2019, she co-founded the Inner Mongolia International Classical Music Festival where she also served as a faculty member.
Baritone Anthony J. Massetto ’21 is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Performance (Voice) and studies with Opera Producing Director and Adjunct Artist-in-Residence of Voice (Soprano) Nancy Gustafson, M.M. He received his undergraduate degree in voice performance from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Previously, he performed in Shenandoah University’s “Night at the Opera” (fall 2019) as well as a soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” and Robert Cohen’s “Alzheimer Stories” in Latrobe and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, respectively.
Sean McGinley ’21 is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Education (Saxophone) and studies with Chair of Instrumental Division, Coordinator for Conservatory in the Community and Professor of Saxophone Timothy Roberts, D.M.A. McGinley has been a member of numerous ensembles at Shenandoah Conservatory, including the Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Saxophone Ensemble, the Perea Saxophone Quartet and the pit band. He has performed in saxophone masterclasses for internationally renowned saxophonists including Philippe Geiss, Dale Underwood, Robert Young and the U.S. Navy Band Saxophone Quartet to name a few. He frequently attends both saxophone and education conferences including the 18th World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia, and the Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium.