photo: Alvin Tenpo

The primary emphasis of JTVA is on an annual vocal competition to support singers at the earliest stages of their professional development with financial awards, performance opportunities, master classes, and the encouragement to follow their dreams. Our first competition will be held at the Regents' Theater at the Valley Center for the Performing Arts on the Holy Names University campus in Oakland, California on June 21, 2014. Applications will be accepted beginning on August 21, 2013.

The 2014 competition will offer prizes to two groups of singers. Rather than specific age or educational requirements, these groups are distinguished primarily by level of ability, vocal experience, and readiness to begin a professional career. In some cases, singers may qualify and apply for both groups.

James Toland teaching

* Tier One is for singers ready to embark on a professional career. This includes those who have recently completed undergraduate or graduate study in voice; however, this is not a requirement. Tier One is open to anyone who has studied voice extensively and developed substantial skill in vocal performance. Prospective competitors who are looking to make a "later in life" career change to the performing arts are also welcome to apply.

* Tier Two is for those studying singing at or near the college level. Singers who are engaged in serious study (private or collegiate) of the fundamentals of vocal performance should apply at this level. Competitors might be undergraduates or graduates studying music, vocal performance, or musical theater. Non-collegiate singers who have achieved comparable vocal development through private study are eligible.

There is no upper or lower age limit for this competition, provided the singer meets the general requirements of either tier. Participation does not require a degree. This competition is open to applicants irrespective of residency. Singers at the early stages of their career, who are under management for the first time, are welcome if they have had no more than four professional engagements in the prior year.

All finalists will compete before a live audience, which is expected to include representatives from Bay Area performing arts organizations. Tier One singers will also participate in a master class with renowned mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. Competition winners will receive cash awards. In addition, the first place winner in Tier One will have the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony under Music Director Michael Morgan.

Tier One - Singers at the beginning of their careers:

  • 1st place - $5,000, plus OEBS performance
  • 2nd place - $3,000
  • 3rd place - $2,000

Tier Two - Study awards for voice students (private or collegiate) considering a professional singing career:

  • 1st place - $2,000
  • 2nd place - $1,500
  • 3rd place - $1,000

Beginning on August 21, 2013, applications may be submitted online through YAP Tracker at: Singers must complete the application, upload their videos, and pay a nonrefundable fee, as further detailed below.

The application form will ask for a brief resume/biography, including: educational and vocal study experience, performance history, current management (if any), and singing goals. Applicants must indicate in which tier they would like to compete, and are strongly encouraged to select the tier that best represents their current status as a vocalist. However, if both tiers seem applicable, the applicant may choose both, but must pay an application fee for each one.

Fella Barbershop Quartetphoto: Festival Opera

All applicants must upload unedited videos of their singing of three selections from memory accompanied by a pianist. Each video must be without recording enhancements, and each selection should be recorded in one "take." These three videos should not be longer than 20 minutes total. Vocal selections may be chosen from lyric theater (opera, operetta, musical theater), oratorio, symphonic vocal material, art songs, or traditional jazz and cabaret standards. Those hoping to pursue a career in a classical music genre should ideally include samples in more than one language.

The deadline for application and video submissions has been extended to February 24, 2014. The application fee for each tier is now $50.

Initial judging of the videos will be by a panel of judges, who will narrow the entries to no more than 50 singers. Applicants will be judged on beauty of tone, musicality, language facility, and vocal-technical, as well as their musical skills, diction, dramatic interpretation, and general stage presence.

Oakland hillsphoto:

After this first round, the selected semi-finalists will be allowed to edit their applications and submit up to three additional videos if they choose, although this is not required. Our panel of judges will then select the finalists in each tier for the live competition. These singers will be invited to the competition finals which will be on June 21, 2014 in the Regents' Theater at the Valley Center for the Performing Arts on the Holy Names University campus in Oakland, California. Additionally, Tier One finalists will be invited to participate in a master class with renowned mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer on June 20, 2014. Contestants will be responsible for their own travel to Oakland and lodging while in the area.

At the finals, each contestant will perform two pieces for an audience and a panel of final judges, which may include conductors and artistic directors from Bay Area performing arts organizations. An accompanist will be provided and rehearsal time scheduled in advance. The top three winners in each tier will be announced, and prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the competition. The panel of judges will be announced during the summer of 2013.


  • August 21, 2013: First date for application submissions for the 2014 competition.
  • December 21, 2013: Initial deadline for applications and video submissions ($35).
  • February 24, 2014: Final extended deadline for applications($50).
  • March 20, 2014: Semi-finalists selected by panel of judges and notified.
  • April 20, 2014: Finalists selected and notified.
  • June 20, 2014: Master class with Susanne Mentzer.
  • June 21, 2014: Competition finals.