Young Artists Vocal Academy

HGO’s Young Artists' Vocal Academy was established in 2011 to work specifically with singers at the undergraduate level. Our aim is to take the most talented young singers and help them on the path to artistry by introducing them to the breadth of information required for this career and the nature of excellent training. Singers will leave the week with a clearer understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and how to find the help they need. They will also have made contacts at HGO which will last their whole career.

The week-long course is held on-site at HGO, and all fees, room and board is covered by the opera company. As well as a variety of group classes in subjects such as characterization, how to prepare a score, diction and movement, participants will receive individual training in the form of daily voice lessons with HGO's Director of Vocal Instruction, Stephen King, daily coachings with a member of HGO's music staff, and dramatic coachings.

The Young Artists Vocal Academy is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Wakefield, Patrick Carfizzi, Dr. and Mrs. David P. Gill, Gwyneth Campbell, and the Houston Grand Opera Guild. Hotel accommodations for YAVA are generously supported by The Lancaster Hotel. 



Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply?

A link to the YAP Tracker application form will go up on the HGO YAVA webpage on January 4, 2016 at 10am CST.

When is the application due?

Sunday, February 26, 2016 is the deadline for applications. No applications submitted after this time will be accepted.

Can I apply by mail or fax?

No, we only accept online applications. If there is a reason this is not possible for you, please contact us at or 713.546.0227.

What else do I need to do?

A complete application will consist of the online application form as well as two (2) online recommendations to be submitted by your current teacher and a music professional. You will also need to upload a resume, headshot of yourself in JPEG format, links to two separate YouTube videos, and pay your application fee of $20.

Is there an age limit?

The age limit for YAVA is 25. Applicants must be born after 1 June 1991 and must be engaged in undergraduate study. Recent graduates who have not yet commenced their master’s degree may also be considered. All applicants should intend to pursue an operatic career.

Do you have to be a US citizen/green card holder to apply?

No, we accept applicants of all nationalities and immigration status. If you are selected for the program and are required to obtain a visa to travel to the US, HGO will apply on your behalf.

What level of education is required?

Successful YAVA applicants tend to be in their junior or senior year of undergraduate school, but applications are open to all undergraduates and recent graduates who have not yet started their master’s degrees.

Is there a fee to apply?

Yes, there is a non-refundable $20.00 fee to apply which must be paid before your application will be considered. This must be paid online as you submit your application.

Is the application fee refundable?

No, the $20 application fee will not be refunded if you are not selected to participate, or for any other reason. The only exception is if a fee is paid when an applicant was entitled to apply fee-free (see below).

I have applied for YAVA before and was told my fee would be waived this year – what should I do?

Fee-free applicants will receive an email from the Studio in late December/early January giving a special link. This will be checked against our records to ensure only those eligible use the link. If you believe that your application fee was to be waived this year and you did not receive an email from us, please contact us at or 713.546.0227.

Do I have to pay online?

Yes, if an application fee is due, you must pay online - there is no other way to finalize your application

Whom should I ask to write my recommendations?

Two references are required from music professionals who know you and your work well - one must be your current voice teacher plus one from one of the professional types listed below:

  • Pianist / Coach
  • Music Director / Conductor
  • Department Chair or Dean
  • Choral Director
  • Opera Stage Director / Opera Workshop Director
  • Past voice teacher

Can I upload a PDF recommendation instead of using the form?

This is no longer possible through YAP Tracker's system. HGO only accepts the online recommendation form specific to this application.

I have already submitted my form and want to change one of my references – what should I do?

That’s fine, just log back into YAP Tracker. In the recommendation section of your submitted application, click the option to remove a reference, then click again to add a different music professional. At that time you will be given the option to send an email to the new reference with instructions on how to submit.

I am having technical problems with the application - what should I do?

Please visit the Help page on the YAP Tracker website or email

Do I have to pay to join YAP Tracker in order to apply?

No - you can decide whether you choose a full subscriber account for $50 per year, or whether you simply wish to complete applications, which is free. For more information about the difference, please click here.

What are the requirements for the video file?

Two separate videos must be included in your online application. You should select works which contrast in style and language. Videos may be recorded specifically for this application or may be existing recordings, but they should be no more than six months old. Recordings with piano are preferred, but anything which shows your vocal quality is acceptable.

What are the program dates?

Program dates for 2016 are currently to be determined. Please check back at a later date for more information.

Are there live auditions?

No, there are no live auditions. All decisions will be made based on your application and recommendations. Singers must demonstrate major operatic potential supported by musical and theatrical training. Applications are reviewed by HGO Studio staff and are considered confidential. No feedback will be offered to unsuccessful applicants.

Is there a fee to attend YAVA?

The only fee is the $20 application fee. There is no additional fee if you are accepted to attend the program.

What things are included if I am accepted into YAVA?

All accommodation and meals are provided. Successful candidates are only responsible for the cost of their travel to Houston.

How many people are you taking into YAVA?

We are able to take 8 singers per week of YAVA for a total of 16 singers each season.

How do I know you’ve received my application?

When you check-out of the online system and pay your $20 application fee, you will receive an email from YAP Tracker confirming receipt of your application. This email confirms that your application has been entered into our database. You can also log in to YAP Tracker and click the My Online Applications link to view all submitted applications.

I didn’t get a confirmation email – what should I do?

If you have submitted your application, a system-generated email from should have been sent to the email address you used to log in. Please check your junk mail or spam filter. If you find the email there, please ensure you white-list both and for future communication as audition notification emails will be sent from one of these addresses. You can also log in to YAP Tracker and click the My Online Applications link to view all submitted applications. If you still are not sure your application was finalized, please contact

How will I know if my references have submitted the online form?

You can log in to YAP Tracker and click the My Online Applications link to view all submitted applications. If you scroll to the recommendation section, you will be able to see whether the recommendation has been submitted or not. REMEMBER THE DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF REFERENCES IS FEBRUARY 22. If you have paid your $20 fee, your application will still be considered, even with no references. However, your chances of being granted a slot are naturally lower than if your application has been supported by good references from respected musicians. Please ensure you give them plenty of time, and check the status of their recommendation before the deadline.

I want to change my video – what should I do?

You must first request to change your video by emailing Changes to videos are only able to be made before the deadline (February 21, 2016).

I want to change one of my references – what should I do?

That’s fine, just log back into YAP Tracker. In the recommendation section of your submitted application, click the option to remove a reference, then click again to add a different music professional. At that time you will be given the option to send an email to the new reference with instructions on how to submit.

My availability has changed – what should I do?

Please email us at with your new available dates.

When will I hear whether or not I have been accepted into YAVA?

You will receive an email from either YAP Tracker or Houston Grand Opera Studio by April 3, 2016 to tell you whether or not you have been accepted.

I haven’t heard from you about YAVA – does this mean I didn’t get in?

No – all applicants who have submitted an application and paid their $20 (or who are fee-exempt) will receive an email by April 3, 2016. Please check your junk mail and spam filters, and if there’s still no email from us please call at 713.546.0227. You can also check the status of your application on YAP Tracker.


YAVA Alumni

2015 Participants:

Dorothy Gal, soprano
Korynn Lacher, soprano
Anastasia Malliaras, soprano
Christine Oh, soprano
Lydia Pion, soprano
Onadek Winan, soprano
Kayleigh Decker, mezzo-soprano
Lindsay Lymer, mezzo-soprano
Laurie Ann Taylor, mezzo-soprano
Nicole Thomas, mezzo-soprano
Kameron Ghanavati, tenor
Seiyoung Kim, tenor
David Gleichman, baritone
Theo Hoffman, baritone
Stephen C. Saharic, baritone
Jake Landau, pianist/composer

2014 Participants:

Anna Bridgman, soprano
Annalise Dzwonczyk, soprano
Kaitlyn Johnson, soprano
Cara Gabrielson, soprano
Mane Galoyan, soprano
Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano
Gretchen Krupp, mezzo-soprano
Meagan Martin, mezzo-soprano
Anne Marie Stanley, mezzo-soprano
Eric Ferring, tenor
Evan Johnson, tenor
Alexander McKissick, tenor
Tigran Ohanyan, tenor
Michael Hewitt, baritone
Jarret Porter, baritone
Bongani Kubheka, bass-baritone

2013 Participants:

Nicolette Book, soprano
Rebecca Pedersen, soprano
Alexandra Razskazoff, soprano
Liv Redpath, soprano
Maria Valdes, soprano
Leah Hawkins, mezzo-soprano
Kaitlyn McMonigle, mezzo-soprano
Alyssa Narum, mezzo-soprano
Megan Samarin, mezzo-soprano
Alec Carlson, tenor
Kyle Gee, tenor
Ian Koziara, tenor
Makudupanyane Senaoana, tenor
Jack Swanson, tenor
Ben Edquist, baritone
Jacob Waid, baritone

2012 Participants:

Jacqueline Piccolino, soprano 
Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano
Johnathan McCullough, baritone 
Brandon Russell, tenor 
Richard Smagur, tenor 
Jamez McCorkle, baritone 
Brendan Stone, baritone 
Rhys Talbot, bass-baritone 





2011 Participants: 

Laura Grace Smolik, soprano
Allegra De Vita, mezzo-soprano
Clipper Hamrick, mezzo-soprano
Rafael Moras, tenor
Frederick Ballentine, baritone
Joseph Eletto, baritone
Rhemé Sloan, baritone
Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone