The Rosa Ponselle Foundation

Rosa Ponselle pictures

News Releases

June 15, 1997


After a three-day Competition at Goucher College's Kraushaar Theater and before a distinguished jury of musical notables which included music critic, John Ardoin; Virginia Opera Company's artistic and general director, Peter Mark; Metropolitan Opera diva, Blanche Thebom; renowned American bass, William Warfield and the eminent conductor and vocal coach, Igor Chichagov, 17 young participants between ages 10 to 20 years were selected as Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist Laureates, Silver Rose and Honorable Mention awardees on Sunday, March 23.

The three Medalist Laureates are to receive cash prize awards and scholarships. The Silver Rose and Honorable Mention Awardees have each received cash prize awards and are to be featured, along with the Medalists, in the 1998 Rosa Ponselle Winners "Showcase" Concert at the Kraushaar Theater next March.

The young Maryland awardees and the schools represented in the Competition are as follows:

Silver Rose Awardees
Kevin Thompson Suitland High School
Amanda Zalenski Wilde Lake High School
Erin Frisby
Colleen Sklamm
Jessica Simmons
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Jennifer O'Loughlin Peabody Institute
Stacey Mastrian Catholic University
Brandi Burkhardt Chesapeake High School

Honorable Mention Awardees
Valerie Kopinski Seneca Valley High School
Sarah Jester Frostburg State University
Daniel Westen Urbana Elementary
Keren Shifflett West Frederick Middle School

The Rosa Ponselle Gold medallion 1997 Centenary year Teacher-of-the Year, Linda Dykstra of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, produced five of the young winners, who were:

Amanda Zalenski, Erin Frisby, Colleen Sklamm, Jessica Simmons and Brandi Burkhardt

The Gold medalist, 19-year old Cristina Nassif, is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Nassif. She currently studies voice with Mrs. Regina McConnell at the University of Maryland-College Park, and privately with her own mother who trained her from childhood. Cristina Nassif's mother, Cristina Herrera Nassif, was, herself, a prominent opera singer whose European-based career brought her to the major opera houses in supporting roles singing opposite Carlo Bergonzi and Jose Carreras. Cristina's talent so attracted conductor/jury member, Maestro Peter Mark, that he immediately offered her supporting roles in the Company's upcoming season.

The Silver medalist, 19-year old tenor, Daniel Holmes, is a student of Russell Penney and the Peabody Institute's John Shirley-Quirk.

The Bronze medalist, is 20-year old soprano, Tameika Lunn, who studies with Marianna Busching of the Peabody Institute.

For further inquiries, please contact:

Miss Elayne Duke
Administrative Director of Competitions, Scholarships, Educational and Opera Training Programs
The Rosa Ponselle Foundation
Telephone: (410) 486-4616
Fax: (410) 486-0495 E-Mail:

Back to News Releases

Updated: 12/13/97
Copyright © 1997, The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation
All rights reserved
Comments and questions can be directed to the Webmaster.

Copyright © 1997, The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation
All rights reserved
Comments and questions can be directed to the Foundation