The Arizona Musicfest Young Musicians Voice Competition was held on March 18, 2023 in the Gathering Place at La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church. Talented performers  from around the Valley performed works by Handel, Schumann, Rodgers, & Hammerstein, Miranda, and more.

Our wonderful panel of judges provided written feedback to each performer, and awarded prizes and ratings for standout musicians. Prize-earning musicians will receive invitations to perform on the Arizona Musicfest Young Musicians Concert series in the coming year.

Meet our our Prize-earning performers and judges below, more information on the competition can be found by clicking HERE

First Prize

Isabella San Pablo, mezzo-soprano | Glendale

  • Student of Andrea Squires
  • Repertoire: Schumann, “Das Ring an meinem Finger,” & Beach “The Year’s at the Spring”

Second Prize

Mina  Vining, soprano | Phoenix

  • Student of Andrea Squires
  • Repertoire: Caldara, “Selve Amiche Ombrose Piante,” & Quilter “Love’s Philosophy”

Third Prize

Autumn Stanley, soprano | Phoenix

  • Student of Kirk Douglas
  • Repertoire: Scarlatti, “Già il sole dal Gange,” & Snow “Let’s Hear it for The Boy”


Superior Rating:

Laisha Mendoza, mezzo-soprano | William Lovell, tenor | Evan Fear, bass

Excellent Rating:

Theresa Estrada, alto




Deanna Murray

Deanna Murray

Dr. Murray has sung numerous operatic roles including, Countess, Donna Elvira, Pamina Fiordiligi, Donna Anna, Musetta and Micaela to consistently high praise:

“A confident full-voiced Micaela.”

“Her Pamina was a joy to hear and behold.”

“Her performance of Fiordiligi’s famous aria from Act One, “Come Scoglio” was stunning, virtually worth the price of admission. Her acting is also natural, sympathetic and believable.”

“As Santuzza, the female lead, Murray graced her role with a penetrating, beautifully modulated voice Friday night. Hers is a lovely, intelligently guided young instrument; a real pleasure.”

She received her DMA in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona following a period of performances in Europe and the United States. She has won various classical vocal competitions such as the Music Teacher’s National Association Young Artist Award, the Riemann Operatic Award, the Butterfield Competition and was the district finalist for the Metropolitan Opera Audition numerous times.

Her performances of concert repertoire include the Verdi Requiem, the Brahms Requiem, the Mozart Requiem and the Dvorak Te Deum. Die Vier Letze Lieder of Strauss, Barber’s Knoxville Summer 1915 and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony are among recent performances with orchestra.

Dr. Murray served as a Professor at California State University Northridge where she coordinated the voice area and produced opera and taught all voice-related classes. She has been privileged to teach, coordinate and help recruit for summer music festivals and institutes in Salzburg, Germany, France, Austria and Luxembourg.

Deanna’s students have won numerous competitions including the Western Regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions, American Educators of Italian Origin competition and the Meistersinger Competition at AIMS in Austria. Her students are singing in opera companies around the world, young artist programs, on Broadway, in recording studios and teaching on the college level.

Nathan De'Shon Myers

Nathan De’Shon Myers

American singer/conductor, Nathan De’Shon Myers has established himself as a versatile artist with international appeal. His hybrid career spans 20 years and includes professional performance in opera, jazz and gospel, choral & opera conducting, private voice instruction, classroom teaching, and leading and managing teachers. He has been a featured soloist with opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States and across Europe including Theater Neustreliz, Stadttheater Trier, Salzburg Landestheater, Chautauqua Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Louisiane, the Amalfi Coast Festival in Italy and Deutsche Oper Berlin where, as a fest soloist he, performed roles such as Dandini in La Cenerentola, Dancairo in Carmen, Schaunard in La Boheme, Ping in Turandot, Marullo in Rogoletto and Matthieu in Andrea Chenier, and more. Other roles performed include the title roles of Gianni Schicchi, Don Giovanni, and Johnny in Ernst Krenek’s Johnny Spielt Auf. During the summer of 2018, Myers revamped his role as Julian in the South African premiere of the American opera Wading Home.

Having collaborated with notable artists such as Kristin Chenoweth, Maurice Brown, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Tamela Mann, Myers maintains a national and international presence in the gospel and jazz worlds as well. He released his debut urban gospel album, Making A Way in 2014 and was a member of the recording ensemble for Kirk Franklin’s Grammy Award-Winning album, Losing My Religion in 2015 and lent his voice and musicianship to the soundtracks of the movies Hidden Figures in 2016 and The Star in 2017.

Equally passionate about education, Myers holds music degrees from the University of Tulsa, Mannes College of Music, and Southern Methodist University and was featured in Old Navy’s National Back-To-School campaign OnWard performing a song he co-wrote entitled “Sing Out”. A former member of the music faculty at the highly-acclaimed Booker T. Washington HSPVA in Dallas, he served as the Music Conservatory Director and Head of Opera & Vocal Studies. During his 7-year tenure there, Myers consistently earned UIL sweepstakes ratings with his Tenor/Bass Choirs, developed a fully-integrated opera training program and founded a highly sought-after curriculum-based Gospel Choir. He was honored to co-conduct the school’s Varsity Treble Choir in their 2016 TMEA Convention Honor Performance and was asked to serve as clinician for TMEA’s Region XX 9/10 Treble Honor Choir in 2017.

In the fall of 2018, Myers joined the music faculty at Arizona State University where he currently serves as Assistant Professor of Voice. In 2019, Myers was a featured soloist on the album: a Bizzy Christmas with Friends 2and released the single “I Wish You Would” from his much-anticipated sophomore album entitled Found My Joy, to be released in 2020 with RSVP Records. Recent performances include Carmina Burana with the Mount Desert Summer Chorale, featured performances with Tempe Winds as well as featured performances at the New Orleans Jazz Fest and the A-Trane Jazz Club in Berlin, Germany.

Jace Saplan

Jace Saplan

Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan (they/he) serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning & Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University where they oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice.

In addition to their work in academia and classical music, Dr. Saplan is known as a national thought leader and consultant in enacting social change and equity-driven practice through the choral arts. Dr. Saplan is an Obama Asia-Pacific Leader through the Obama Foundation for the 2022-2023 year. They also serve as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging consultant for arts organizations throughout the country, such as Choral Arts Northwest, The Phoenix Chamber Choir, and The Guitar Federation of America.

As a Kanaka Maoli advocate, artist, and culture bearer, Dr. Saplan is also the artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir, a vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation, propagation, and innovation of Hawaiian choral music. Under Dr. Saplan’s direction, Nā Wai recorded a Global Music Award-winning album entitled Eō Liliʻuoklani under the Mālama Music label and performed for the 2021 Chorus America Summer Conference, the 2021 National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Conference, and the 2020 ACDA Western Region Conference in Salt Lake.

Prior to their appointment at Arizona State University, Dr. Saplan was the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Hawai’i and conductor of the UH Chamber Singers. Under their direction the UH Chamber Singers sang as an auditioned choir at the 2022 ACDA Western Division Conference in Long Beach. The ensemble also performed at the Musica Pasifika Festival in Tahiti in 2020, and at the Pasifika Choral Symposium in Guam in 2019.

Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Pasifika choral traditions and Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; decolonial approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the choral classroom; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and trauma informed practice and boundary building with BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) music educators. Their scholarship on these topics has also led them to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference.

A prolific author, their research can be found in Red Ink: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, The Choral Scholar, and Pacific Asia Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Dr. Saplan has also contributed chapters in Choral Reflections: Insights from American Choral Conductor-Teachers (Hal Leonard), and The Choral Conductor’s Companion (GIA Publishing). Forthcoming chapters will be included in The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Queer Studies in Music Education, From Disruption to Discovery: Music Teacher-Educators’ Stories of Pandemic Teaching and Visionary Futures (Lexington Books), and Choral Repertoire by Women Composers (GIA Publishing).

A champion for new works and BBIA and queer composers, Dr. Saplan is the editor of their own choral series under Earthsongs publishing.

Dr. Saplan is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for state, regional, national, and international conferences and festivals. They have conducted honor choirs and all-states in more than 15 states, and will be the 2022 National ACDA Conference Native and Indigenous Peoples Immersion Choir Conductor. Dr. Saplan also serves as Festival Director for the Aloha State Choral Festival for Choirs of America. They make regular appearances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and abroad with their engagements with National Concerts, World Projects, and KI Concerts.

Dr. Saplan received their Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, their Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, their Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and their Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. They are the student of Dr. Maya Hoover, Mrs. Wanda Gereben, Dr. Sharon Paul, and Dr. Karen Kennedy.