Music: Junior Chaazi Munyanya wins annual CSU Singer of the Year competition

Chaazi Munyanya Promotional Photo

Vocal music majors at Colorado State University received a variety of awards, including the coveted “Singer of the Year,” at the annual competition that took place on Saturday, February 12, 2011, in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts.

At the Singer of the Year Competition, undergraduate voice students compete for awards, scholarships, as well as special distinctions. At the 2011 installment of the annual competition the following awards were given:

  • Singer of the Year: Chaazi Munyanya, junior Vocal Performance major
  • Opera Awards: David Dimmen, junior Music Education major; Kawika Berthelette, junior Music Education major; and Josh Ooms, sophomore Vocal Performance major
  • Opera Pronto Undergraduate Award (supported by Charles and Rita Ralph): Camrenne Dubler, junior Music Therapy major

Guest clinician Dr. Joel Burcham, assistant professor of voice at CU-Boulder joined CSU voice faculty to judge the final round, as well as coach the top five finalists on performance and technique. Singer of the Year, Chaazi Munyanya, performed He’s Gone Away arranged by Jake Heggie, and Parto ma tu ben mio from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito.

The competition featured more than 30 singers competing for vocal scholarships ranging in amounts from $2,000 to $5,000 for Academic Year 2011 – 2012.

A high-level range of vocal development is evident in the performances, as the spirit of competition brings out the best singing, yet maintains atmosphere of support and encouragement. “It was such a thrilling evening with wonderful performances by our students,” said Tiffany Blake Oliver, assistant professor of voice at CSU.

Meet Chaazi Munyanya

Chaazi Munyana is a junior vocal performance major and has been involved in eight operas with CSU Opera Theatre, and Opera Fort Collins. Her opera performance experience includes the role of Tisbe in Cenerentola by Rossini, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus by Strauss, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart. She is currently playing the role of Tessa in The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan. She also performs in CSU’s Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. James Kim.

How did you prepare for the Singer of the Year competition?
I had my Junior Recital just a week before the Singer of the Year competition. I had been preparing my repertoire for the recital for the past two semesters, so I did not have to further prepare for the competition…I was ready! My voice teacher, Dr. Tiffany Blake, and I had previously decided on two pieces from my recital that I would sing for the competition.


Describe how it felt to be part of the competition?
Before going on stage I was pretty relaxed and excited. My main goal was really to have fun. There comes a certain point when I have prepared my music for a long enough time that performing it becomes almost automatic. There is nothing to be nervous about. I love singing and any opportunity I get to perform is very exciting. Of course after the competition I was extremely happy!


What does winning Singer of the Year mean to you?
Winning the Singer of the Year to me means that a lot of the hard work I have done has not gone unnoticed. I have learned that my efforts to constantly improve, to soak up and appreciate every bit of information and advice I get, to understand how to use the voice I have right now, and to accept what I can do, as well as my limitations, has benefited me greatly and will take me further into my career.


How has the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at CSU cultivated your growth as a singer?
Each professor has had something different and very useful to teach me, and I am very grateful for the amount of work they put into the department. I have learned a lot about my voice and about performing in general. It has been a great experience at CSU and I am looking forward to an exciting senior year.


What are your goals or your plans after you graduate?
I will be graduating from CSU in the spring of 2012, and my goal for this next year is to devote my time to constant improvement. I feel like there will never be a point where I am done learning, and I believe there will always be something driving me forward towards a greater understanding of music. When I graduate from CSU, I plan on attending a graduate school that will help me reach my goal of performing as a career. I look forward to a lot of challenging work, and I can’t imagine a more enjoyable direction to go with my life.