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Music alumna wins professional vocal competition in Italy

Thursday, August 17, 2017 • Media Contact: Teresa Woodard Schnyder

Raehann Bryce-Davis performing at Opera Vlaanderen, courtesy Annemie Augustijns.

University of Texas at Arlington alumna and critically acclaimed mezzo soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis won the Grand Prize and Audience Prize at the Concorso Lirico di Portofino, a prestigious vocal competition in Portofino, Italy.  Bryce-Davis, who graduated from UTA’s College of Liberal Arts with a bachelor’s degree in music, shared first place with a Hungarian mezzo soprano.

The judging panel for the competition was composed of artistic directors from prominent European opera companies. 

“It means the world to me to receive such amazing recognition from world leaders in opera, and it is also inspiring to win audience favorite when singing Italian, for Italians, in the country where opera was born,” said Bryce-Davis.

Bryce-Davis grew up in North Texas, but was born to Jamaican parents in Mexico when they were studying abroad.  She admits she was never a huge fan of opera music as a child.  Her love of music developed at UTA, where her mother studied while Bryce-Davis was in high school.

“I would spend summers at the Fine Arts Library at UTA watching a myriad of musicals,” Bryce-Davis said.  “If it weren’t for those summers, I may have never developed a love for performance.” 

Bryce-Davis started her undergraduate education at UTA as a business major.  She recalls her mother coaxing her to take voice lessons with Soo Hong Kim, associate professor and director of opera and the music theater workshop at UTA.

“It was through voice lessons with Dr. Kim that I found my true calling,” said Bryce-Davis. Only after Kim assured her that she would thrive did she have the courage to change her major to music. 

“Every semester, Raehann rose to a higher level of singer,” Kim said. “The most wonderful aspect of her talent as a performer, as she learned to control her voice in a classical way, was her stage presentation. She was fearless.”

Raehann practiced relentlessly every day. “I believe it is the fruit of that effort that she now enjoys,” Kim said.

Bryce-Davis just finished her first year as an ensemble member at Opera Vlaanderen in Antwerp/Ghent, Belgium. “In retrospect, it was quite bold of Dr. Kim to swear to a student that she could make it in this bizarre industry,” she said.  “I am thankful she did, because I wouldn’t be here otherwise.” 

Since graduating from UTA in 2010 and earning a master of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 2012, Bryce-Davis has performed ensemble opera roles in hundreds of opera performances, been highlighted as a soloist nearly a dozen times with notable orchestras, and garnered international critical acclaim.

Her win at the event hosted by the City of Portofino will be added to her long list of accomplishments such as Grand Prize and Audience Prize winner of the Hilde Zadek Competition at the Musikverein in Vienna in 2015 and winner of the 2015 Merola Opera Program Career Grant.  Bryce-Davis has also won four other professional voice competitions in her young career.

This fall, Bryce-Davis will sing Wellgunde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. In the spring of 2018 she will make her Carnegie Hall debut as the mezzo soloist in the world premiere of Sanctuary Road by Paul Moravec with the Oratorio Society, conducted by Kent Tritle.  She will also make a concert debut at the Vienna Musikverein singing “Sea Pictures” with the Tonkunstler Orchestra.

--Written by Tish Williamson