Students Win Annual Voice Competition

On Tuesday, April 13, twelve Mary Pappert School of Music students competed in the third annual Marguerite DePhillips Dougherty Voice Competition. Hosted by Coordinator of Voice, Dr. Meghan DeWald Althouse and judged by tenor Robert Chafin, the competition resulted in four student awards—an undergraduate winner, graduate winner, and two encouragement awards:

  • Undergraduate Winner - Nathan Sekela, tenor (sophomore, studio of Guenko Guechev)
  • Undergraduate Encouragement Award Winner - Giulia Galante Golinelli, soprano (sophomore, studio of Xiu-ru Liu)
  • Graduate Winner - Sariah Seare, mezzo-soprano (first-year master's, studio of Meghan DeWald Althouse)
  • Graduate Encouragement Award Winner - Yan Yu, mezzo-soprano (first-year master's, studio of Xiu-ru Liu)

Marguerite DePhillips Dougherty was born in Pittsburgh in 1929. Her interest in music, particularly opera, began as a young woman while taking voice lessons inspired by a love of Puccini's La bohème and Madama Butterfly. As an unsung patron of the arts, she quietly supported causes throughout her life, and at her death in 2015, she bequeathed a gift to Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music to support programs that benefit students pursuing careers in music, especially opera.

Tenor Robert Chafin, the competition's judge, has earned international acclaim for his drama and versatility on the opera and concert stages. The Virginia native debuted in Europe in La bohème, with subsequent multi-year engagements with the National Theater in Mannheim, State Theater of Freiburg, and State Opera of Hannover. Chafin is a member of the West Virginia University voice faculty.

Each of the competition winners will receive a monetary award, made possible through Dougherty's gift, as well as an "on-the-spot" award from judge Robert Chafin. The recipients of the encouragement awards will receive $200 each and the undergraduate and graduate winners will each receive $400.

The competition also featured performances by:

  • Ruoxue Liu, mezzo-soprano
  • Rhiannon Griffiths, soprano
  • Sydney Kaczorowski, soprano
  • Kiersten Stauffer, soprano
  • Candace Burgess, soprano
  • Michael Kirk, baritone
  • Kaylee Allmond, mezzo-soprano
  • Lynea Csefalvay, soprano
  • Rosmarie Spollen, 2020 Marguerite DePhillips Dougherty Voice Competition winner

In the weeks leading up to the competition, each contestant recorded two songs in PNC Recital Hall. These videos were stitched together into one long-form video which was then broadcast to a live audience via Zoom.
We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the family of Marguerite DePhillips Dougherty and to our judge, Robert Chafin for their contributions to this wonderful event.

Congratulations to all of the winners!


Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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