April 21, 2004

Contact: Vickie Hamilton-Smith, School of Fine Arts, (785) 864-9742.

KU singer wins 1st place in regionals, advances to vocal 'Final Four'

LAWRENCE -- Holly Wrensch, a second-year University of Kansas doctoral student in voice performance, has won first place in the regional round of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artists Award.

The Marshfield, Wis., mezzo-soprano will represent KU in the semifinals on July 9 in New Orleans, competing with winners in nine other regions. If Wrensch advances to the final round on July 10, she will compete for a $5,000 prize, $2,500 for a winner's recital for the national convention and a solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall in New York.

"This is as big as you get in voice competitions," said Pamela Hinchman, associate professor of voice at KU. "The semifinal and finals in the NATSAA is the 'Final Four' for singers." She said contestants prepare extensively and compete with the top vocalists in all ranges from around the nation.

For the regional event, Wrensch prepared a 55-minute program, which included 18 pieces in French, German, Spanish, English, Polish, Latin and Italian. Wrensch chose the aria "Voi, che sapete," which "Cherubino" sings in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," to begin her program. The judges selected the next four pieces, which she sang in the 15-minute recital. Ellen Bottorff accompanied Wrensch at the piano.

Wrensch came to KU to study with Hinchman in 2002. They met at the Utah Festival Opera, where Wrensch was an apprentice and was featured as a soloist in a concert of Spanish music and the annual orchestral concert, Musica Magnifica.

Chosen as a Wichita Grand Opera apprentice for the current year, Wrensch sang the lead role in the opera "Carmen" in September 2003. She will perform in the May Kansas Artists Gala Concert, which features young artists in duets and ensembles.

Last summer, Wrensch sang the role of Filippyevna in the Russian opera "Eugene Onegin" with the Union Avenue Opera Theatre in St. Louis. She also was an apprentice with the Indianapolis Opera in 2001-02.

Wrensch earned a master's degree in voice performance from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a bachelor's degree in voice performance at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

She is the daughter of John and Ann Marie Gross of Marshfield and the late Lewis Wrensch, who lived in Marshfield. She is a graduate of Columbus HIgh School.

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