This following five contestants were selected to compete in the Grand Finals with orchestra at the Redlands Bowl on July 11, 2017.
Nicholas Boragno, lyric bass-baritone, is a native of Southern California. Nicholas graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a degree in vocal performance. He also spent a year as a student at the Stuttgarter Opernschule in Germany where he apprenticed under legendary Wagnerian mezzo soprano, Dunja Vejzovic. He has been a professional young artist with companies such as Opera Saratoga, The Chautauqua Opera Company, Virginia Opera and most recently the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2016. His recent full roles and opera scenes include Leporello in Don Giovanni, Schaunard and Colline in La Bohème, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Captain Petrovic in Eugene Onegin and The Hermit in Der Freischütz. For the last several years, Nicholas has been a regular performer with the LA Opera Outreach and Education Tour. Mr. Boragno is a recipient of the LA Opera Buffs Endowment and is the first place winner of the Henry and Maria Holt Competition at West Bay Opera. Nicholas is greatly looking forward to making his debut with Pacific Opera Project this fall as Raimondo Bidebent in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Brendan Dooley, Flute
Currently pursuing his M.M at the University of Southern California under the instruction of Jim Walker, Brendan previously graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Jeffrey Khaner. Brendan has performed in numerous orchestras, including Symphony in C, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Curtis Opera Orchestra, and the YMF Debut Orchestra. In February of 2016, Brendan performed with the Curtis Symphony in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Ludovic Morlot, in addition to various performances in Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall under the batons of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Vladimir Jurowski, Osmo Vanska, and others. Chamber music experience includes a collaboration with Elizabeth Hainen, principal harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Scott St. John, former violinist of the St. Lawrence Quartet, as part of Curtis on Tour.
Leah Hansen, age 21, began her cello studies at the age of three. In 2004, Leah was chosen to solo in the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the “John Kerry and Friends” Presidential Fundraiser. In 2007, Leah was invited to solo with the Pacific Symphony under the direction of Maestro Carl St. Claire on a four-city tour. Leah was invited to solo with the YMF Debut Symphony Orchestra in April 2013 performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Other awards include; Scholarships from the YMF, Fe Bland Foundation, and the Colburn School, First Place in the ASTA State Finals in 2012, and First Place in the Mondavi Young Artist Competition in 2012. Leah Hansen was chosen to perform in the convocation for the USC fall and spring admits in 2013 and 2014. Leah performed with Elton John and Kristen Chenoweth in 2014. Leah won the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Mock Audition in collaboration with USC. She was also a winner of the USC Concerto Competition in 2016. Leah Hansen won the Culver City Symphony competition in 2016 and will be soloing with them in 2017. Leah won the “Best Schubert Performance” in the Great Composers Competition in 2017. Most recently, Leah Hansen won the USC Bach Competition in 2017.
Jessica Lee, age fourteen, is a freshman at Palos Verdes Peninsula high school. She began her cello studies at the age of seven under the guidance of Ms. In-Kyu Lee. Jessica has received many awards and scholarships, including first place in the Young Cellists category of the Southwestern Youth Music Festival, first place at the Greater LA Finals of the American String Teachers Association competition, advancing to State Finals, grand prize in the Korean Times competition, first place at the LA Violoncello Society Scholarship Auditions, first place at the Southern California Junior Bach Festival Complete Works Auditions, YMF David Weiss Memorial Scholarship and first place at the MTAC VOCE State Finals. As a dedicated soloist, Jessica won first place at the MTAC Artists of the future concerto competition and performed with the Beach Cities Symphony. She has also performed with the SYMF Festival Orchestra and with the Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra. This year, Jessica won the Mount Orchestra Concerto Competition at Mount Saint Mary’s University and performed with the Mount Orchestra. Most recently, Jessica received first place in both the California State and Southwest Division of MTNA competition, and second place at the National MTNA competition. In addition to her passion for cello, Jessica loves to dance and is also an active member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula High School debate team.
Daniel Richardson is in his fourth year at the University of Washington pursuing a BM in Music and a BS in Math, and is a student of Craig Sheppard. He has studied with John O’Conor at the Aspen Music Festival and School. He has taken piano lessons at the SF Conservatory for 4 years with Dr. Robert Schwartz and Dr. William Wellborn, and he has also studied with Frederick Weldy and Dainius Vaicekonis. He won four gold medals and two silver medals at the US Open Music Competition as well as being one of the gold of gold medalists at the winners’ concert. He won second place in the 2015 ENKOR International piano competition as well as being the winner of the senior division of KING-FM’s 2015 Young Artists’ Award, which earned him a solo performance at the 2015 Seattle Chamber Music Festival as well as a live performance on Classical King FM 98.1.