Student Success


Building upon a tradition of excellence, Baylor voice students have had a highly successful past few years. Here are a few impressive accomplishments from our recent alumni:

  • Bille Bruley, tenor (MM ’14, BM ’11) was named First Place Winner - Houston District and Fourth Place - Gulf Coast Region in the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Bille was accepted into the Studio Artist Programs for Central City Opera (CCO) and Opera Saratoga for their 2014 seasons, and he performed the role of Inmate #1 in CCO’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. He was named as the recipient of CCO's Studio Artist Award and was awarded a cash prize of $1000. Bille was accepted into the Performer’s Certificate Program at Indiana University will be attend school there beginning in the Fall 2014 Semester with a full tuition scholarship and stipend.
  • Rebekah Howell, soprano (current undergraduate student) and Bille Bruley, tenor (BM ’11 and current graduate student) were named as Finalists in the 2014 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition.
  • Rebekah Howell, soprano (BM ’14) was selected as the Grady Harlan Winner (for the singer with the most professional potential), as well as the First Place Winner in the Graduate Women Division, during the 2013 Texoma NATS Region Student Auditions held at Baylor. Rebekah was awarded Honorable Mention in the Vocal Division - Crescendo Music Awards, and was accepted into the Studio Artist Program for the 2014 Season at the Chautauqua Opera Festival (where she performed the role of Samantha in The Ballad of Baby Doe and was named an Encouragement Award Winner and given a cash prize of $500).
  • Rebekah Howell, soprano (current undergraduate student) was named as the Third Place Winner in the 2013 Music Teachers’ National Association Young Artist National Voice Competition in Anaheim, CA.
  • Bille Bruley, tenor (BM ’11 and current graduate student) was named as the Third Place Winner in the 2012 Music Teachers’ National Association Young Artist National Voice Competition in New York, NY.
  • Kiri Deonarine, soprano (BME '07) recently won 1st prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation's 2012 International Vocal Competition. She will make her debut as a principal artist with Santa Fe Opera during their 2012 summer festival signing the role of Fiakermilli in Arabella. Kiri was also named the first place winner of the 22nd Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition in March 2010. Kiri was a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions of 2008-9. Kiri began by winning the Tri-Cities region in January 2009. In 2009, Kiri was accepted into the Houston Grand Opera Studio Program, where she sang the role of Adina in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.
  • Heather Hawk, soprano (MM '07) won first place in the 24th Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition on March 10, 2012. Two of the past three winners of this competition are Baylor alumni. Heather is currently working on a DMA degree in voice from the University of North Texas, and she serves as a voice instructor at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX.
  • Rachel Copeland, soprano (BME '02, MM '04) won the San Diego District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the fall of 2008 and was a member of the San Diego Opera touring ensemble. Rachel has gone on to sing principal roles with Indianapolis Opera, San Diego Opera, and the Cleveland Opera Circle. She has completed the Doctor of Music degree at Indiana University and is currently a member of the voice faculty at Eastern Carolina University.
  • Mezzo-soprano Ellie Jarrett Shattles (BM '05, MM '09) and baritone David Pershall (BM '07), won their respective divisions in the Southwest Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in September 2007. In so doing, the pair advanced to the national semifinals where, in the spring of 2008, they also competed on the stage of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Ellie was accepted into San Francisco Opera's Merola program in 2009, where she performed the role of Dorabella in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. She performed the roles of Rosina in Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia and "Woman in the Hat" in Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles in Aspen Opera Theatre's 2010 season. Ellie was engaged as a young artist with Nashville Opera for their 2011 season where she performed the roles of Mercedes in Carmen and Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro. She has been engaged as an apprentice artist at Santa Fe Opera for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
  • Tyson Miller, tenor, (BM '10) won third place and also received the encouragement award in the Southwest Division of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. 
  • Jonathan Cole, baritone, (BM '08) took first prize in the Vocal Division of the Crescendo Music Awards in 2008, as well as second place in the 2008 MTNA Young Artist Voice Competition. Jonathan has been accepted into Boston University's Opera Institute Program beginning in August 2010. He had also been engaged as a studio artist and an apprentice artist at Central City Opera in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
  • Soprano Joanie Brittingham (MM-Performance and Musicology '09) sang the role of Peep-Bo in The Mikado with Wichita Grand Opera in 2009, and sang Gianetta in L'elisir d'amore with Peach State Opera in 2011. In 2010 and 2011, Joanie performed several principal roles with Light Opera Oklahoma. She is currently a member of the voice and musicology faculties of the University of Mobile.


The accomplishments of these special students only begin to tell our story. In addition to these individual success stories, there is great depth in our student population. Each fall, voice students from universities in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico gather for the Texoma Regional Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. As a part of this conference, college students participate in the Student Auditions, where each student singer competes with peers who have had the same amount of collegiate vocal training. For example, female students in their first year of vocal study compete with other female singers in their first year, male singers in their second year compete with other male singers in their second year, etc.

The field of singers is narrowed through this audition process to a group of five finalists in each of the 10 collegiate and graduate divisions. While this only represents a two-day snapshot each year of the college singers throughout the region, the results over several years indicate a clear trend. The students at Baylor stand apart from their peers.

Of a possible 840 named collegiate divisional finalists at the Texoma Region NATS Student Auditions from 2001 to present, Baylor has produced more NATS finalists than any other university in our region.
  • Baylor University - 161 (16.6%)
  • Stephen F. Austin University - 88 (9.1%)
  • University of North Texas - 86 (8.9%)
  • Southern Methodist University - 84 (8.7%)
  • Oklahoma City University - 62 (6.4%)
  • University of Texas-San Antonio - 60 (6.2%)
  • Texas Christian University - 54 (5.6%)
  • Texas State University - 51 (5.3%)
  • Texas Tech University - 43 (4.4%)
  • Sam Houston State University - 38 (3.9%)
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor - 32 (3.3%)
  • University of Oklahoma - 27 (2.8%)
  • Oklahoma State University - 24 (2.5%)
  • West Texas A&M University - 19 (2%)


Baylor alumni have not only been successful as students here, but have gone on to great success after their time in the School of Music. Here are some fine examples: 

Graduate Studies

Here are some of the prestigious institutions that have accepted Baylor undergraduate and graduate students for further study:

  • Indiana University 
  • University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music 
  • University of Michigan 
  • New York University 
  • Boston University 
  • Rice University 
  • Arizona State University 
  • University of Colorado-Boulder 

Baylor students and alumni have been finalists or place winners in the following competitions: 

  • Metropolitan Opera Grand Council Auditions: National, Regional and District levels 
  • Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers (Houston Grand Opera) 
  • Fort Worth Opera Guild's Marguerite McCammon Voice Competition 
  • Corbett-Treigle Scholarship Competition 
  • Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston Competition 
  • Dallas Opera Guild Career Development Grant for Singers Competition 
  • Orpheus National Voice Competition 
  • Crescendo Music Awards 
  • Texoma NATS "Singer of the Year" 
  • National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards 
  • Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Voice Competition 
  • Lois Alba Vocal Competition 
  • Conroe Young Texas Artist Competition 
  • National Note d'Estate a Campolieto 
  • Palm Beach Opera Competition 
Training and Apprenticeship Programs

The following are some of the programs that have selected Baylor students and alumni: 

  • Wolftrap Opera 
  • Santa Fe Opera 
  • Houston Grand Opera 
  • San Francisco Opera-Merola Program 
  • Chautauqua Opera 
  • Central City Opera 
  • Opera in the Ozarks 
  • Nashville Opera 
  • Brevard Music Center 
  • Seagle Music Colony 
  • Opera North 
  • CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College 
  • OperaWorks 
  • The American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria 
  • College Light Opera Company 
  • Des Moines Metro Opera 
  • Opera Theater of Aspen Music Festival 
  • Tanglewood Music Center 
  • University of Miami's Summer Program in Salzburg, Austria 
  • Atlantic Coast Opera Festival 
  • Virginia Opera Spectrum Resident Artist Program 
  • Chicago Opera Ryan Center Program 
  • Berkshire Opera Resident Artist Program 
  • Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca 
  • Natchez Opera Company
Professional Engagements 

Baylor students and alumni have appeared as featured artists with the following professional organizations: 

  • New York Metropolitan Opera 
  • Chicago Lyric Opera 
  • Houston Grand Opera 
  • Santa Fe Opera 
  • Seattle Opera 
  • Los Angeles Opera 
  • Cleveland Opera 
  • Des Moines Metro Opera

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