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Vocalists Set to Face Off in Westport

Sixteen vocalists from around the world will sing their hearts out this weekend for a chance to win a cash prize in the 2010 Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition at Westport Town Hall.

Sponsored by the Connecticut Alliance for Music , the biennial competition's first round begins Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m., each competitor will give a 20-minute performance before a panel of judges. Six vocalists will be selected as finalists to perform in concert Sunday. The contestants will range in age from 19 to 35.

During the Sunday concert, which starts at 3 p.m., each finalist will perform a program selected by the judges. After the performances, the audience will be invited to a reception while the judges decide the winners. A total of $10,500 in cash prizes will be awarded.

Westport resident Heida Hermanns created this international competition after she founded the Connecticut Alliance of Music in 1973. When the event began, the competition categories included strings, woodwinds, voice and piano, which alternated every four years. The event evolved to become an annual competition that alternates every other year for pianists and singers.

Born in Germany, Hermanns was a critically acclaimed piano recitalist and concert soloist. She made her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic when she was 18 and toured Europe as a recitalist and concerto soloist through the 1920s and 1930s. In 1931, she immigrated to the United States with her husband, Artur Holde, a music critic, author and composer.

During the 1940s, the couple moved to Westport, where Heida was a community leader dedicated to promoting the arts and sharing her love of music.

The Saturday portion of the competition is free. Tickets for the Finals Concert are $20 and are available at the door or by calling 203-319-8271. The Finals Concert is free for those 18 and under.

The competition will bring in singers from around the world. Do you plan to attend?

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