by Pamela Young, Published March 28, 2014
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University senior Christopher Zavac, a 21-year-old baritone, beat out vocalists from eight other colleges and universities to take home third place and a $150 award during the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Society’s Young Vocalists Competition March 15. His collaborative pianist was Alejandra Escobar, an EMU graduate piano student.
Schyler Sheltrown from Michigan State University took first place and Dorea Britton from Indiana University-South Bend placed second.
“I’m very proud to have placed in the competition,” said Zavac, a Toledo native. “There were incredibly gifted performers competing from various universities.”
Thirty-six of the most promising college and high school singers from the Midwest competed in the event. In addition to Eastern Michigan, competing colleges were Alma College, Central Michigan University, Grand Rapids Community College, Indiana University-South Bend, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan School of Music.
Contestants in the college division were required to sing one 20th or 21st century art song in English by an American, British or Canadian composer, one foreign language art song sung in the original language and an appropriate aria from opera, oratorio or music theatre.
“I’m incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Robert Peavler as a voice instructor. and the training I have received from him is nothing shy of spectacular,” Zavac said. “I came to Eastern Michigan to study under him.”
This is the first year that Eastern Michigan has participated in the event.
Unlike most music students, Zavac is not a performance major or planning to teach music.
He plans to graduate in December 2014 with a double major in music and arts management and a minor in marketing. He recently presented a research project, “A Comparison of Non-Profit Arts & Cultural Funding, Domestic and Abroad,” at Eastern Michigan’s prestigious Undergraduate Symposium.
“I was recently hired for a marketing job with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit,” Zavac said. “I couldn’t be happier to be working for such a passionate company hosting world class musicians,” he said.
Rob Peavler, his music professor said, “It’s great to see Christopher achieve this award because of his hard work and dedication to his craft as a singer.
“I had the opportunity to judge the competition last year and found the level of singing to be very sophisticated and professional,” Peavler said. “Chris also has been a past winner at both the Michigan and Great Lakes Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Student Auditions. It’s great to see him achieve these awards because of his hard work and dedication to his craft as a singer.”
“I wasn’t nervous at all approaching this competition,” Zavac said. “I compete because I’m a competitive person and because I love classical music.”
The final winners from both divisions will go on to perform April 12, at 3 p.m. at the Kalamazoo College Light Fine Arts Center. Both the competition and concert are designed to encourage the study and performance of vocal music