FORT WORTH Korean baritone Joo Won Kang dominated the 2014 McCammon Voice Competition on Saturday afternoon, taking not only the competition’s $15,000 first prize but also the audience-favorite award by the largest margin in the contest’s 29 years.
McCammon officials said that Kang, 32, was voted the audience favorite by a 300 percent margin over the rest of the field. In addition to the cash prize, Kang will be awarded a role with the Fort Worth Opera.
Taking the $7,500 second prize was soprano Tracy Cox, a 26-year-old Dallas native. The third prize, $5,000, was awarded to mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez, a 25-year-old native of France studying at the Juilliard School in New York.
Encouragement awards of $2,500 each went to two of the 11 finalists: soprano Audra Methvin, 27, a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; and baritone Jamez McCorkle, 24, a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
The finals of the competition, which occurs once every two years, were held in Bass Hall, with each competitor giving a brief recital accompanied by a pianist. A group of five professionals, including Darren K. Woods of the Fort Worth Opera, judged the singers.
The quality of the field was quite high, with several of the singers already having professional experience.
That Kang was going to be a powerful contender was obvious from the first notes of Figaro’s Largo al factotum from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. His performance exuded maturity, self-confidence and professionalism as well as an appealing vocal quality. He also exhibited the ability to master music of a very varied character, with the contrasting Di provenza from Verdi’s La Traviata.
Both Cox, singing music of Wagner and Verdi, and Verrez, singing music of Monteverdi and Massenet, exhibited powerful voices fully capable of filling Bass Hall with sound, and, like Kang, showed the ability to convincingly take on music of a very contrasting character.
McCorkle’s selections from Gounod’s Faust and The Barber of Seville (again, Largo al factotum) were full personality and vocal acrobatics. Methvin’s arias from The Marriage of Figaro and The Abduction From the Seraglio was a confident tribute to Mozart.