Skip to main content
The Wind Ensemble playing music
School of Music

Butler University Vocal Competition

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Register online now! ATTENTION: The competition has now reached capacity and we have moved to a waiting list. By filling out the registration form, you will automatically be placed on the waiting list and will be notified if space becomes available. The $40 registration fee is required to maintain your spot on the waiting list, but will be fully refunded if space does not become available. Questions? email

We are proud to announce the first annual vocal competition for high school singers! The Butler University Vocal Competition encourages excellence in solo vocal performance. It is an opportunity for high school singers to learn through master classes and workshops, as well as to connect with college students pursuing music careers. The competition will be limited to 25 participants, with registration on a first come, first served basis. See eligibility requirements below. The event will take place on the campus of Butler University in Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall and Lilly Hall. Teachers, parents, family members, and friends are also welcome to observe any portion of the event.


  • $500 First Prize
  • $300 Second Prize
  • $200 Third Prize
  • $100 Encouragement Award for a 9th or 10th grader
  • $50 for Finalists


The Butler University Vocal Competition is open to all high school age singers (grades 9-12). Participants must be U.S. citizens or green card holders. Winners will be required to fill out a W-9 form and provide a social security number to receive prize money.

Repertoire Requirements

Singers must perform THREE SELECTIONS from memory. Selections must meet the following criteria:

  • At least one of your three pieces must be in English.
  • At least one of your three pieces must be in a foreign language.
  • Your repertoire must include at least two Classical style pieces (art songs or arias). The third selection can (but does not have to) be a Musical Theater piece.

One original score (or legally purchased PDF) of each selection must be provided to the judges. Printed copies of public domain music are acceptable.

Butler University Audition Option

High school seniors participating in the competition may use their performance as an audition for admission into the Butler University School of Music as well as music scholarship funding. Students must apply to Butler University as a voice major by the November 1 Early Action deadline via the Common App or Butler Application in order to utilize this option. NOTE: When completing your Common App or Butler Application, you MUST choose an audition date in order for your application to be considered complete and ready to review by Nov. 1. Please choose ANY audition date, we will make the appropriate change to your application once we receive your Vocal Competition registration form. Also, students must be admitted academically to Butler University in order to be admitted into the School of Music. Students may still audition prior to receiving their academic admission decision. Questions? Email or call 317-940-9065.


A $40 registration fee is required to register for the event. There are no additional charges for concerts, workshops, or events. The collaborative pianist’s fees are included.  The registration fee is not refundable. We aim to make the competition accessible to all interested singers. If the entry fee is prohibitive, please contact Dr. Zenobi directly ( Remember, space is limited to 25 singers so apply early!

Schedule Overview (subject to change)

Competition and all afternoon events take place in Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall (EDRH), with workshops and practices rooms in Lill Hall. Italacized events take place concurrently with Competition Round 1; singers may come and go as they are able when not performing for the competition. All events are open to observers; teachers, family, and friends are welcome.

Time Event
8:30 AM-1:00 PM Competition Round 1 (Singers in 8-minute intervals)
9:30-10:15 AM Sight-Singing and Solfege Workshop with Dr. Becky Marsh
10:30-11:15 AM Musicianship & Movement Workshop incorporating Dalcroze Eurythmics with Dr. Dana Zenobi and Dr. Becky Marsh
10:30 AM-Noon Walk-Up Q&A with BU Admission Representative
11:30 AM-12:15 PM Acting and Imrovisation Games with Dr. Oliver Worthington
11:15 AM-12:15 PM Basic Musicianship Assessment 
11:15-1:15 PM Interviews and Music Assessments with Auditioning Seniors (individual appointments communicated prior to event)
1:00-2:00 PM Lunch (provided for singers)
2:00-3:30 PM Master Class with Butler University Faculty
Finalists Announcement
3:45-4:45 PM Competition Final Round (singers perform one piece each)
4:45-5:30 PM Closing Reception with Refreshments
Awards Announcements


Dana ZenobiDr. Dana Zenobi, Instructor of Voice, Butler University Vocal Competition Director

A native of Northport, NY, Dana Zenobi is a versatile performer who embraces both standard repertoire and new music. An active recitalist, Dr. Zenobi earned national recognition as an interpreter of art song by women composers when she was awarded an Honorable Mention for Exceptional Repertoire by The American Prize (2016). She has appeared as concert soloist with ensembles including the Austin Civic Orchestra, the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, the Austin Chamber Ensemble, and line upon line percussion ensemble. She has also performed with Viola by Choice chamber music ensemble, and is featured on their 2010 debut recording, Florilegium. On the opera stage, she was deemed "the chief vocal pleasure" of Lyric Opera Cleveland's The Pirates of Penzance, and named "a soprano to listen for" by the Cleveland Press... Read full bio here.


Oliver WorthingtonDr. Oliver Worthington, Assistant Professor of Voice, Butler Opera Theatre Director
Oliver Worthington, baritone, has performed extensively as an opera singer, oratorio soloist and recitalist in Texas before moving to Indianapolis to join the faculty at Butler University. He has appeared with regional opera companies like South Texas Lyric Opera, San Antonio Opera, San Antonio Symphony, Hill Country Lyric, Austin Opera and Lone Star Lyric in diverse roles from Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus to Mamma Agatha in Viva la Mamma. Other roles include Count Gil in Il Segreto di Susanna, Bruschino in Il Signor Bruschino, Dr. Greg in Gallantry, The Duke of Plaza Toro in The Gondoliers, Le Podestat in Le Docteur Miracle and others in more traditional repertoire. Read full bio here.


Dr. Becky Marsh,  Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education
Dr. Becky Marsh is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at Butler University. She holds the Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education, with a choral conducting cognate, from Michigan State University. During her time at Michigan State, Dr. Marsh was awarded a university-wide Excellence-in-Teaching Citation. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education, as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Music Theory, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Read full bio here.


Prof. Kirsten Gunlogson, Visiting Associate Professor of Voice
Grammy nominated Mezzo-Soprano Kirsten Gunlogson’s voice has been described as “rich”, “creamy”and “beautifully dramatic”. Mark Kanny, of the Pittsburgh Tribune, describes her voice as “a beautifully placed mezzo-soprano voice that is rich without ever being heavy.” Known for her convincing interpretation of trouser roles and charmingly feminine portrayals Ms. Gunlogson has distinguished herself as an impressive singing actress. Ms.Gunlogson has performed with Palm Beach Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Arizona Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Columbus, Baltimore Lyric Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Tulsa Opera, Toledo Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Anchorage Opera, Nashville Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Sarasota Opera. Read full bio here.


Prof. Mark Stingley, Instructor of Voice
Mark Alan Stingley is highly regarded for his impressive musical background. “The solo vocal parts were taken to fine effect and beautifully sung,” The New York Times wrote of Mr. Stingley.  The Chicago Tribune said, “He has a clear, pure voice that never waivers.” A respected international artist with extensive credits in Europe and the United States, Mr. Stingley twice received vocal fellowships from the Tanglewood Festival. While at Tanglewood, he was the recipient of the High Fidelity/Musical  America Award and performed a Stephen Paulus world premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Read full bio here. 


Li-Wen WengLi-Wen Weng, Butler University Vocal Competition Collaborative Pianist
Li-Wen Weng was born in Taipei, Taiwan. After graduating from National Taiwan Normal University with majors in Music and English, she continued her training in the United States. Li-Wen holds her Master’s degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she studied with Evelyn Brancart. She obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under the guidance of William Heiles. In addition, she also minored in Jazz Piano under the guidance of John Stephens. Her past competition experience includes the 2nd Prize Winner of the Alexander & Buono International Piano Competition and the 2nd Prize Winner of the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition. She was also invited as a prize winner to perform at Carnegie Hall. Besides performing as a solo pianist, Li-Wen is also an active collaborative pianist. Her experience includes accompanying vocalists, instrumentalists, and chamber musicians in master classes, recitals, and competitions. She also enjoys working with musical theater productions. She is currently teaching for the Butler Community Arts Program and is also a staff accompanist. Her video recordings can be found at her website:


Madelyn GearhartMadelyn Spring Gearhart, Artistic Director of Opera Viva!
A lyric coloratura soprano, Madelyn Spring Gearheart performed with the Venice Opera, Teatro La Fenice, and the Verona Opera, L’Arena di Verona during the seven years that she lived in Italy.  She was a finalist in the international opera competition, “R. Stracciari” in Bologna.  She studied with notable teachers, Mario Del Monaco, William Warfield and William Eddy. Dr. Gearheart was the founder and conductor of the New Hampshire Youth Chorus and the New Hampshire Choral Society from 1999-2012.  She has been a guest conductor and vocal coach for the Summer Youth Music School at the University of New Hampshire and the Phillips Exeter Academy. From 1985-1987 she was the Assistant Conductor for the Tacoma Opera Company. She has been choral festival conductor for NH All State and regional choral festivals. She has adjudicated for NH All State, NYSSMA, All New England, Music In the Parks, NATS and MTNA.  She also operates a private voice studio and appears as a soloist and clinician. Dr. Gearheart is a member of the National Opera Association and Past President of the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Read full bio here.


David RuggerDr. David Rugger, Instructor of Voice and Musicology
A versatile performer-scholar, Dr. Rugger is equally at home on stage, in the classroom, in the studio, and in the archive. Adept as both an ensemble singer and as a soloist, Rugger specializes in the concert repertoire from the Renaissance through to the present day, with particular emphasis on the music of J.S. Bach. As a scholar, he writes on the relationship between the voice, the body, and identity. Dr. Rugger currently teaches at University of Indianapolis and Butler University. Read more here.



Danielle SteeleDanielle Steele, Assistant Director of Choral Activities at Earlham College
Danielle Cozart Steele enjoys a multifaceted career as a soprano, conductor, researcher, and clinician. An alumna of Butler University and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, she is currently pursuing her doctorate in music education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an intersectional scholar of choral music and trans/queer inclusivity and her research centers on peace and social justice themes. She is the founder and organizer of the Transgender Singing Voice Conference. She is a published author on topics concerning transgender students in music. Danielle serves on the faculty of IU East, directing the IU East Richmond Chorale, teaching private voice and conducting. Recently, Ms. Cozart Steele served as the Interim Director of Choral Activities at Earlham College. She also served as Interim Director for MUSE, Cincinnati’s social-justice-centered women’s chorus. Ms. Cozart Steele works with the Dayton Correctional Institute for Women prison chorus, Hope for Harmony, alongside MUSE founder Dr. Cathy Roma. Ms. Cozart Steele places priority on featuring women’s and minoritized voices in her classroom and music programming. Her choirs have toured extensively regionally as well as performing in Chicago, St. Louis, New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. Ms. Cozart Steele maintains an active solo vocal career, appearing in recital and with symphony orchestras throughout the Midwest. Her colorful, lyric soprano voice has earned her roles on the stages of Des Moines Metro Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Peach State Opera, Sugar Creek Symphony and Song, and Intimate Opera of Indianapolis. She is a champion of new music and enjoys working with living composers.


Michael ScherperelMichael Scherperel, Vocal Coach and Conductor
Michael Scherperel studied composition and conducting at the Eastman School of Music where his principal instrument was organ. He later undertook graduate studies in piano, composition, and conducting at Boston University. He holds a B.A. in chemistry from Harvard and a M. Mus. In accompanying from the University of Miami. Mr. Scherperel has been at various times a vocal coach at the American Institute of Musical Studies (Graz, Austria), chorusmaster and assistant conductor with the Greater Miami Opera (now the Florida Grand Opera), music director of the Broward Symphony Orchestra, and artistic director of the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Chorus. Mr. Scherperel was a founding member of the Miami Chamber Trio and makes frequent appearances in chamber music and vocal concerts. Please see his website,


Contact: Dana Zenobi, DMA at