UM Frost Jazz Students Named Finalists in Major International Vocal Competitions

October 15, 2015 — Coral Gables, Fla — Two of the international jazz community’s most prestigious organizations recognized students of the University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music during their annual competitions.

Senior Danielle Wertz and junior Veronica O’Brien are two of eleven semi-finalists in the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Vocals Competition. Arianna Neikrug, BM ’15 in Jazz Voice, has been named one of five finalists in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

The Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition is considered the world’s most prestigious jazz competition. The Monk Competition features a different musical instrument each year, with the 2015 competition creating an opportunity for jazz vocalists to earn major scholarships and prizes. The International Jazz Vocals Competition Semifinals will be held on Saturday, November 14 at Schoenberg Hall on the University of California – Los Angeles campus. Three finalists will then be selected to participate in the Competition Finals on Sunday, November 15 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The first place vocalist will win a $25,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group.

Neikrug, an alumna of the Frost School, will compete as one of five finalists in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, also known as the SASSY Awards. The competition, open to solo female vocalists of all nationalities who are not signed to a major record label, provides a platform for one outstanding jazz singer to launch a career within the music business. Now in its third year, the SASSY Awards finals competition will take place on Sunday, November 15 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Victoria Theater in Newark, NJ.

As students at the Frost School, Neikrug, Wertz, and O’Brien performed in the Frost Jazz 1 Vocal Ensemble and numerous events. Under the leadership of Kate Reid in the Department of Studio Music and Jazz, the JV-1 Ensemble has earned multiple DownBeat Collegiate Awards and performs throughout South Florida, as well as at regional and national conferences.


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L-R, Monk Competition jazz vocal semifinalists Veronica O'Brien and Daniel Wertz; and Sarah Vaughn Jazz Competition finalist Arianna Neikrug, B.M. '15. (Photos by Versatile Light Studio)