Music nurtures creativity and scientific thinking
Donation helps FanFaire Foundation NURTURE CREATIVITY


The SOLOISTS’ COMPETITION was set up for the purpose of selecting soloists for the MESSIAH SING-ALONG concerts held to celebrate the holiday season. Held in 2010 and 2011, and open to ALL young and aspiring singers in the greater San Diego community and beyond, in both instances, the competition was conducted at the French Parlor of the University of San Diego and gave winners the opportunity to sing with an orchestra (some for the first time) as soloists at the concerts which were held at the Neurosciences Institute Auditorium and featured the GREATER SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA conducted by Dr. ANGELA YEUNG. Both competitions and concerts were invariably warmly and happily received and thus were genuine COMMUNITY EVENTS.COMPETITION FACT SHEET
Basic Guidelines:

  • Each singer REQUIRED to sing ONE ARIA from Part I and an additional (optional) ARIA from Parts I, II or III.
  • Each applicant REQUIRED to provide his/her own PIANO ACCOMPANIST.
  • WINNERS in all voice type categories to sing the SOLO ARIAS at the ensuing MESSIAH SING-ALONG concert in concert with the GREATER SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA, conducted by Dr. ANGELA YEUNG playing Mozart’s orchestration
  • BEST SOLOIST/GRAND PRIZE WINNER to receive CASH AWARD ($500 in 2010 / $1000 in 2011); RUNNERS-UP to receive GIFT PACKAGES (including in 2011 a one-year subscription to OPERA NEWS, courtesy of Opera News)



Competition Date: November 12, 2011

Adjudicators: Maestro Karen Keltner, mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman, and Dr. Angela Yeung

Deirdre Lobo D’Cunha, soprano and Best Soloist /Grand Prize Winner
Erin McAdams, soprano
Erin McCaughin, alto
Alexis Alfaro, bass
Jeong Sang Lyu, bass

Performance Date December 2 and 4, 2011

Learn more about the MESSIAH SING-ALONG concerts










Singing in the elegance of the French Parlor

Adjudicating (seated, right to left):

mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman, Maestro Karen Keltner and Dr. Angela Yeung

It was VOCAL TALENTS GALORE! at FanFaire Foundation’s 2011 Messiah Soloists Competition. Exceptional singers all (some, like renowned soprano Barbara Hendricks, with degrees in chemistry!), they came from all over California (San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County and San Diego). Adjudication was, as the pictures at the competition above show, pleasurably rewarding!


the distinguished guest adjudicators, San Diego Opera Resident Conductor Maestro KAREN KELTNER and famed mezzo-soprano and LA Opera Principal Artist SUZANNA GUZMAN for being so generous with their time and for their caring words of wisdom;

OPERA NEWS for their subscription donations;

and other DONORS for their donation of various runner-up gift prizes.




DEIRDRE LOBO-D’CUNHA, soprano and Grand Prize Winner

Born in India, Deirdre began her musical training under her mother, Celia Lobo, a well-known opera singer, theater director, and voice teacher in India. Deirdre holds a Bachelor of Music degree (University of Santo Tomas), a Master of Music degree (University of Colorado), and a Post-Graduate Diploma (Peabody Conservatory of Music).

She has studied with Marilyn Zschau, and Phyllis Bryn-Julson, and has coached with Kathryn Cathcart, Richard Boldrey, and Martin Isepp. She currently studies with Voltaire Verzosa, and coaches with Richard Harrell, and Peter Grunberg.

Deirdre has worked with conductors such as Francisco Feliciano (Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra), Francois Legrand (World Philharmonic), Shulamit Hoffmann (Viva la Musica), and David Ramadanoff (Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra), to name a few.

A versatile artist, Deirdre frequently performs as soloist in concert and in recital both internationally and in the US. She has been a soloist for the Messiah (Handel), The Creation (Haydn), Gloria (Vivaldi), Magnificat (Vivaldi), Christmas Cantata (J.S. Bach), Mass in G (Schubert), Seven Last Words of Christ (Dubois), Ceremony of Carols (Britten), Magnificat (Pergolesi), The Armed Men (Jenkins), Magnificat (J.S. Bach), Mass in C Major (Beethoven), and Requiem (Mozart), among others. In 1996, Deirdre was invited to sing in Sangat, an Indian International Music Festival held in Mumbai, sponsored by the Mehli Mehta Foundation and chaired by Zubin Mehta.

From 1997 to 2004, Deirdre took a sabbatical from active performance to raise her son Andre, now 14 years of age. A US citizen, Deirdre lives in Daly City, California with her husband Neville D’Cunha and their son.

Some of Deirdre’s 2011 Solo Engagements have included: Requiem (Mozart) in Prague, Czech Republic and in Dresden, Germany; and Gratia (D’Souza), a newly commissioned work by an Indian composer, in Mumbai, India.

An educator, Deirde teaches and coaches students in voice and piano. She has taught in the Philippines, India, and the US and frequently conducts Vocal Institutes such as those planned for June and July 2012 in Chennai, Pune, Goa, and Mumbai (India).

Deirdre is currently Choral Director and Principal Cantor at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.

ERIN McADAMS, soprano solo

Erin McAdams is a graduate student at San Diego State University (SDSU) where she is working towards her MM in Vocal Performance. Erin graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and Political Science. Upon graduation, she was commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer out of the Notre Dame ROTC program and served two tours of duty in Yokosuka, Japan and San Diego. Erin recently completed her four years of service in the Navy and is once again pursuing her love of music.

While at Notre Dame, Erin appeared as Helena in Opera Notre Dame’s production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and sang the role of novice in Suor Angelica. She was a winner of the Notre Dame concerto competition in 2007 and went on to sing Mozart’s Exultate, Jubilate with the Notre Dame chamber orchestra. She also appeared as a soloist in concerts with the Notre Dame Chorale and the Notre Dame Collegium Musicum. Erin was selected to present a recital as part of the Bach’s Lunch concert series.

Erin will appear in San Diego State University Opera Theatre’s production of Magic Flute in February as Second Lady. She has studied with mezzo-soprano Mary MacKenzie and currently studies with baritone Lee Gregory at San Diego State.

ERIN McCAUGHIN, mezzo-soprano

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, mezzo-soprano Erin Kathleen McCaughin began her formal classical training while pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance under the instruction of Enrique Toral at San Diego State University where she was an active member of the SDSU Chamber Singers and Concert Choir. She continued her academic studies at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah where she graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance. At BYU, she studied under Dr. Lawrence Vincent and participated in Opera Workshop and Opera Scenes Performances, singing the role of Cenerentola in Act 1 of Rossini’s La Cenerentola and with the chorus in Act 1 of Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore (Act I) and Lucia di Lammermoor (Act II).

Erin also participated in BYU’s 2011 Young Artists of Voice Competition and sang in the university choirs, including the internationally recognized BYU Singers which afforded numerous performing opportunities, including performances with the King’s Singers and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She also recorded back-up vocals for recording artist Dallyn Vail Bayles and participated in televised PBS broadcasts, including the choral and orchestral program, “The Pilgrim’s Journey Home.” In 2011, she performed with the BYU singers at the ACDA National Convention in Chicago and toured Colorado and Wyoming for two weeks.

Upon graduation from BYU, Erin relocated to San Diego to pursue her musical career. Equally at home with the jazz and musical theatre repertoire, she is currently building a private voice studio and pursuing new performing opportunities. A member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing , Erin continues her vocal studies with Enrique Toral. She will be singing with the Full Measure Carolers in their upcoming 2011 Holiday season.


Mexican-American tenor Alexis Alfaro has been praised for his eclectic singing style and the diversity of his repertoire, captivating audiences from New Zealand to Ireland, San Diego to New York, and Brazil to Mexico with his dynamic renditions of classical music, traditional Mexican folk songs, and contemporary jams. He has sung with several critically acclaimed a capella and contemporary groups including Serenity Now, S.N.E.Y.L, and the 89 Duo.

Trained in Southern California by world-renowned singers and conductors, Alexis honed his skills through his participation in the University of San Diego Choral Scholars Program and the San Diego State University Opera Program.

Alexis continues to grow as a musician/vocalist and finds joy in promoting music education through teaching and working for various music ensembles and arts organizations throughout San Diego. More than anything else, he thanks his parents for having him.


Jeong Sang Lyu is a graduate of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach where he studied with Tim MacDougall and currently with Elisabeth Pehlivanian. A native of South Korea, Jeong holds a Bachelor’s degree in Church Music from Seoul Theological University (Bucheon, Korea) where he studied both voice (with Sock-Jo Choi and Do-Hyung Lee) and conducting (with Myun-ho Choi and Hoon-Chu Choi).

While living in Korea, Jeong was a member of the professional Asan City Choir. He has performed Verdi’s Requiem, Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Deutsch Requiem, Douglas Coombers’ Mass, and Gounod’s Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile. Currently, Jeong is Music Director of World Mission Church in Los Angeles where he is responsible for the choir music.



Competition Date: November 13 and 14, 2010
Learn more about the MESSIAH SING-ALONG concerts

Adjudicators: Dr. Matthew Rowe and Dr. Angela Yeung

Cindy Choi, soprano and Best Soloist /Grand Prize Winner
Kara Masek, soprano
Ruth Kiefer, alto
Vincent Martin, bass
Erik Van Heyningen, bass

Performance Date December 3, 2010




CINDY CHOI, soprano


Soprano Cindy Choi is a frequent 1st Place winner in young artists’ competitions.  In 2010, in addition to being adjudged Best Soloist in FanFaire Foundation’s Messiah Sing-Along Soloists’ competition, she won First Place in the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artist Competition and has been engaged to sing  Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with the ensemble as a soprano soloist in June, 2011.  She sung with the San Diego Opera Chorus in La Traviata in the 2010 International Season, and and will sing again with the Chorus in Faust in 2011.

Cindy has performed operatic scenes with the New Jersey Opera Theatre and Northwestern University.  The roles include Zweiter Knabe and Erster Knabe in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Musetta in La Bohème, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, and Norina in Don Pasquale. She is preparing to sing the roles of Gilda in Rigoletto and Nanetta in Falstaff. She has also sung the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milano. 

Cindy has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Voice Performance from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL and has attended Master Classes with such renowned singers as Sharon Sweet, Jennifer Larmore, the late Shirley Verrett, and Joan Dorneman. She currently studies with Mary Mackenzie and is pursuing a Teaching Credential in Music.

KARA MASEK, soprano

Soprano Kara Masek recently moved to San Diego to pursue her Master of Music degree at San Diego State University under the tutelage of Laurinda Nikkel. This semester she sang the role of Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief with SDSU’s Opera Theater. Other roles include Amina (La Sonnambula), Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), Despina (Così fan tutte) and Cherubino in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s main stage production of Le Nozze di Figaro. She also performed in Opera Workshop and other ensembles and master classes at the SF Conservatory where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music.

In the past two summers, Kara participated in West Coast Opera Workshop. She was the soprano in Opera in the Park’s Opera Sings Broadway. Other musical theater roles include Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance (Desert Theatre League Award winner), Antonia in Man of La Mancha, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, among many others. Kara has been the recipient of numerous scholarships. She was a winner in the McCallum Theatre’s Open Call Talent Competition in Palm Desert, CA and received an encouragement Award in the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions.


German-born lyric mezzo soprano Anne Ruth Kiefer has performed with the San Diego Opera Chorus, Lyric Opera San Diego, and most recently, at the Opera Festival in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, where she performed both in Nabucco and Die Zauberflöte. This upcoming season she will be singing with the San Diego Opera Chorus in Turandot, and again in Bad Hersfeld in The Bartered Bride. She frequently performs with Musica Vitale, a San Diego-based vocal ensemble, and can be heard in Musica Vitale’s upcoming Christmas Concert on December 19 at 4pm at All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Point Loma. Ruth recently performed the world permiere of “Biodiversity” at the opening ceremony of the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington DC.

Ruth has been studying voice with Sarah Agler, has coached with Todd Simmons, and frequently collaborates with Ines Irawati at the piano. She has had the opportunity to participate in master classes with Kurt Widmer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Andreas Strunkheit at the Austrian Master Classes in Zell a.d. Pram, and with Nico Castel at the New York Opera Studio. She is the alto section leader at Torrey Pines Christian Church. Ruth recently started teaching voice and piano to beginners of all ages.

Ruth first discovered her love for classical music when performing the Mozart Requiem with her church choir at the age of 10. She received her initial music education in Germany studying piano, recorder and voice, performing with various vocal ensembles and chamber choirs.

When she is not singing, Ruth works as a project manager and event planner. She was part of the team that created the inaugural San Diego Science Festival in 2009 and just returned from Washington DC, where she helped organize the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the first national celebration of science which culminated in a two-day Expo on the National Mall that attracted more than 500,000 people of all ages.

Ronald Shaheen - headshotRONALD SHAHEEN, guest tenor

Dr. Ronald Shaheen currently teaches for the Music Department at the University of San Diego where he conducts courses in class voice, and in music history and appreciation. He also teaches individual lessons, is the voice coordinator for the Department, and the Applied Lesson Manager. Dr. Shaheen holds a Ph.D. in Music from UCLA. He has performed the roles of Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), the title role in Handel’s Idomeneo, the Podestà in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and other operatic roles with UCLA Opera. He has been the tenor soloist and section leader for a number of San Diego churches, and has served nearly six years on the board of the local chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Two of those years he served as the chapter’s president.


Erik Van Heyningen is consistently recognized as a member of regional and all-state honors ensembles. He has performed at the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Summer Academy as a featured soloist and also has done a command performance for the Temecula Valley Master Chorale. In addition, Erik is a frequent recitalist.


Leave a comment