Orpheus Vocal Competition – High School Student Application

The Orpheus Vocal Competition for High School Students will be held March 7th, 2019 in the T. Earl Hinton Music Hall, Wright Music Building on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.  Google Map here.  Address:  1439 Faulkinberry Dr, Murfreesboro, TN 37130

High School division of Orpheus will accept students from Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, & Louisiana.

Contestants will be informed of their acceptance by January 16, 2019.

Each contestant must provide his or her own transportation, meals and lodging (lodging will be needed for contest winners only).

2020 High School Online Application – Click Here – See instructions and requirements below.

Please contact Raphael Bundage at (615-898-2849 or 898-2694, MTSU School of Music for further assistance.


• Competition is open to High School Students currently in grades 10-12.

Applicants must provide a program of the following selections:

– In the High School category: 1 Art song in English and one selection in Italian (from standard Italian aria repertoire suitable for this age category). All selections must be performed from memory.


• Applicants must upload digital music file(s) (Mp3 256kbps-320kbps preferred) containing the two selections on the applicant’s list of repertoire. Recordings must be accompanied by the completed application form and one letter of recommendation. Please have these items ready before filling out the online application.

• Each completed application form must be accompanied by a non-refundable application fee of $40.  You will be taken to Paypal to complete your payment when you submit the form.

Important Dates:

December 1, 2019 – Application Deadline

January 16, 2020 – Semi-Finalist Notification

February 7, 2020 – Confirmation of participation in the contest

Saturday March 7, 2020 – High School Contest March 7th, 2020 10AM-1PM – High School Participants should arrive by 9am.

Sunday March 8, 2020 – Winners Concert for the 1st and 2nd place winner. The winners concert performance will presented at The National Finals of the Orpheus Competition in Hinton Hall on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.


Accompanist: An accompanist will be provided for you.

Judges for the 2020 Orpheus High School Vocal Competition

Mark Whatley

Coordinator of Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Voice at Belmont University

Mark Whatley, baritone, saw his professional singing career gain national prominence in 2002, when he won first place in the Metropolitan Opera mid-south regional auditions. He was later named one of nine national finalists, and performed in concert with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra with Julius Rudel conducting. Since that time he has sung over forty operatic roles, including Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Marcello in La bohème, Escamillo in Carmen, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos, and both Frank and Fritz in Die tote Stadt. His concert repertoire is equally extensive and varied, including Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s The Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Saint-Saën’s Christmas Oratorio, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and requiems by Brahms, Fauré, Duruflé and Mozart. He has performed with many professional companies, including Glimmerglass Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera North, Opera Birmingham, Augusta Opera, Chattanooga Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Cincinnati May Festival, Lexington Philharmonic, Woodlands Symphony, Paducah Symphony, Nashville Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Houston Choral Society.

Mark Whatley is Coordinator of Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Voice at Belmont University. He holds degrees in voice performance from Belmont and the University of Kentucky. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Rice University in May of 2014, and his doctoral document is entitled “A Singer’s Guide to the Songs of Ildebrando Pizzetti.”

Dr. Whatley lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Amanda, and two sons, Andrew and Matthew.


Christine Isley-Farmer

Coordinator and Professor of Voice at Middle Tennessee State University

Christine Isley-Farmer has performed in opera houses in Europe and with regional companies in the United States. Most notable in Europe are her performances in theaters in Austria, Switzerland, England, and Ireland. In the US, she has sung with the Des Moines Opera Festival, Chautauqua Opera, Central City Opera, and the Colorado Lyric Theater, to name a few. Isley-Farmer’s recital and oratorio appearances, both national and international, demonstrate a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music.

Since 1997, Isley-Farmer has been a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. She trained at the Alexander Alliance in Philadelphia, PA and then earned her certification with Alexander Technique International. She has conducted Alexander Technique workshops throughout the Southeastern region of the US and teaches the Alexander Technique annually for the month-long TN Governor’s School for the Arts. She has published several articles on the Alexander Technique in the widely-distributed Journal of Singing and in the publication of Alexander Technique International. Most recently, she presented at the 12th Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.

Students of Isley-Farmer have won and placed in the finals of both regional and national competitions. Her students have entered prestigious programs at the graduate level both nationally and abroad. Former students have gone on to earn doctoral degrees, teach at the collegiate level, as well as to pursue professional singing careers in the US and abroad. She also taught the first MTSU student to be awarded the coveted Fulbright Scholarship for study in Europe.

Isley-Farmer presently serves as ex-officio president and treasurer for the Tennessee Sate Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. As president, she spearheaded the activation of this state chapter. A native of North Carolina, she holds the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the DMA in Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.