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School of Music Opera Graduate Receives Prestigious Scholarship for Graduate Study

School of Music Opera Graduate Receives Prestigious Scholarship for Graduate Study

Ask Will Ryan (BM Opera Performance, ’22) about his post-graduation plans and he’ll tell you: to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.  But that’s not all – he’s also been selected for one of the most prestigious opera awards in higher education.

The recipients of several of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music scholarships are selected not from open applications, but from invited auditions – and not all incoming students receive invitations.  Ryan was one of those invitees.

“I’m grateful to be counted among this group, because everyone at that competition was absolutely spectacular,” he said.  “To have the opportunity to participate as someone not already enrolled in the program was really special.”

At the competition, he performed "O Isis und Osiris" from Mozart’s Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), "I really miss that bar" from Michael Ching’s Speed Dating, Tonight! and "Ho capito, signor si" from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  The judges were duly impressed, and he was recently notified that he will receive the Italo Tajo/Newburger Memorial Award.

Despite such a promising career trajectory, it was not always clear that Ryan would be an opera singer.  Late into high school, his intention had been to enter college as a neuroscience major.  His first experiences singing on stage came as part of his high school’s choir program, which included an opportunity to sing during an event at Carnegie Hall.  In his words, “It hit me with this wave that this is something that I wanted to keep doing forever.”

Even after that event, it took some time, and encouragement from friends and family, before he decided to pursue singing as a career path.  Once at UT and in the opera program, however, he flourished.  Of particular note was the various opportunities he had to perform on stage, in UT Opera Theatre productions as well as events with the student-run organization VolOpera.

“It’s fairly rare for opera students to have actual roles, because opera is usually meant for people who are older and have a more developed voice,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have had such opportunities at UT.”

Ryan performed the role of Sarastro in UT Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), and also performed in VolOpera productions, including a premiere excerpt of a new adaption of Pinocchio, written by UT alumnus Aaron Hunt (MM Composition, ’20).

Ryan graduated earlier this month, and looks forward to continuing his studies at the University of Cincinnati.

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