Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announces 2014-2015 Monsanto Artists-in-Training Students 23 students from 15 St. Louis City, County, and Metro East high schools chosen for AIT’s 25th year

St. Louis, MO, October 14, 2014 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has announced the 2014-2015 Monsanto Artists-in-Training class, for the program’s 25th year. Chosen through a highly competitive audition process, 23 high school students from across the St. Louis region will engage in weekly college-level vocal coaching from faculty at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Washington University, Webster University, and University of Missouri–St. Louis. The program culminates in a recital and scholarship competition at Sheldon Concert Hall on Sunday April 19, 2015 at 3 pm, where awards of over $12,000 in scholarshipswill be distributed.

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, has been the principal underwriter of the program since its inception in 1990. In 2014, the Monsanto Fund gave a combined gift of $90,000 to support both the Artists-in-Training program and Opera on the Go!, a program that brings opera singers into area schools to conduct participatory workshops.

Listed below are the 23 students accepted into Opera Theatre’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training program for the 2014-2015 class:

Dennis Barber, Junior, McCluer North High School, 1st year AIT

McLaine Beeman, Senior, Triad High School, 3rd year AIT

Abby Benson, Junior, Parkway South High School, 1st year AIT

Mykel Blair, Junior, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, 1st year AIT

Melvin D. Bozeman Jr., Senior, McCluer North High School, 2nd year AIT

Monet Britts, Senior, McCluer North High School, 2nd year AIT

Rayna Campbell, Sophomore, Belleville East High School, 1st year AIT

Amber Joy Carrasquillo, Junior, Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School, 1st year AIT

Kelsey Degardin, Senior, Ritenour High School, 3rd year AIT

Marissa Rae Dickman, Sophomore, Pattonville High School, 1st year AIT

Thalia Dimitriou, Senior, Eureka High School, 1st year AIT

Kamil Frierson, Sophomore, Belleville West High School, 1st year AIT

Michael Hawkins, Senior, Belleville East High School, 2nd year AIT

Caleb Johnson, Junior, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, 2nd year AIT

Ricky Johnson, Sophomore, Homeschool, 1st year AIT

Lorenzo B. Jones, Senior, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, 1st year AIT

Lauren Lundy, Junior, Notre Dame High School, 2nd year AIT

Aileen Markovitz, Senior, Eureka High School, 2nd year AIT

Julia Pottinger, Senior, Cor Jesu Academy, 3rd year AIT

Abigail Powers, Senior, Mehlville High School, 3rd year AIT

Trevor Scott, Sophomore, St. Louis University High School, 1st year AIT

Jessica Stone, Senior, McCluer North High School, 2nd year AIT

Hannah Willmore, Sophomore, Edwardsville High School, 1st year AIT

About Opera Theatre’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training Program

Opera Theatre’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training program offers nine months of college-level voice lessons on university campuses to twenty-three high school students in the St. Louis community. The program was recognized as one of ten outstanding programs for youth in the nation by the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. Five alumni of the AIT program are in the midst of professional singing careers which have taken them to performing venues throughout the U.S. and overseas. They include tenor Jermaine Smith (1991), mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladden (1994), baritone Robert McNichols (1995), soprano Jennifer Sheehan (2003), and sopranoJulia Bullock (2004). In 2013, AIT graduate Derrell Acon, also a member of Opera Theatre’s Gerdine Young Artistprogram, received a Fulbright award to pursue both performance and research in Italy. AIT graduate and 2014 Naumburg Prize winner Julia Bullock will make her debut in the starring role of the English National Opera’s 2015 production of The Indian QueenArtists-in-Training is supported by the Monsanto Fund, which has been the principal underwriter since the program’s inception.

About the Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farm families and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at www.monsantofund.org.

About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony. As of 2014, Opera Theatre has presented 24 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.

Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee. Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director. Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding the late Colin Graham.

Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.