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Acclaimed Former Trinity Music Professor Honored at Vocal Competition
By Susie P. Gonzalez

March 2008

Rosalind Phillips Vocal Excellence Competition winners:
Eric Thomson, first runner-up & Susan Yager, winner

Rosalind Phillips, professor emerita of music at Trinity, returned to campus in February to observe a student vocal competition held in her honor. An alumna of the famed Juilliard Graduate School who was a songstress in France in the 1940s, Miss Phillips graciously met with the student contestants and audience members who attended the inaugural event in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall.

The Rosalind Phillips Vocal Excellence Competition was the brainchild of Amy Becker ’89, who persuaded fellow former Trinity music students and lovers to contribute to a fund that provided cash prizes for the winning students. Ms. Becker, now a middle school music educator in Chicago, was instrumental in organizing the event, along with Diane Persellin, music professor at Trinity and chair of the award committee, who called the event “a huge success.”

Susan Yager, a mezzo-soprano and senior from San Antonio majoring in vocal performance, won the competition. At Trinity, she is a Baker Duncan Scholar and a member of the Trinity Choir and Chamber Singers. Earlier this semester, she was musical director for Murder at Hotel Broadway, a student-run Broadway Revue. In San Antonio, she sings with the San Antonio Chamber Choir, the choir at Central Christian Church, and the Opera Chorus of the San Antonio Opera.

First runner-up was Eric Thomson, a junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., who is a tenor and a double major in business administration and music. He also is a Baker Duncan Scholar, a member of the Trinity Choir, and a semi-finalist for two regional competitions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. As a child, he was a member of the Phoenix Boy’s Choir and in 2006 was a member and featured soloist of the Phoenix Men’s Choir.

Five students competed in the February event, and four additional students took part in a preliminary round of vocal competition.

Left to right: Eric Thomson, Amy Becker, Susan Yager and Rosalind Phillips

Miss Phillips, now in her late 80s, was described as a “gifted and passionate teacher.” She joined the Trinity music faculty in 1961 and taught voice until her retirement in 1989. She now resides in a San Antonio assisted living facility, where she is “in demand to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to everyone,” according to Professor Persellin.

Ms. Becker described Miss Phillips as having a versatile and extensive career before coming to Trinity, excelling in concert, opera, radio, and television. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the Arthur Jordan Conservatory, attended Cincinnati Conservatory, and won a four-year Fellowship at the Juilliard Graduate School. At Juilliard, she was known for as much for voice as for her distinctive wavy hair, winning designation as a “Breck Girl” by the makers of Breck Shampoo. Her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1946 was followed by an acclaimed singing tour across France.

As a Trinity professor, Miss Phillips challenged her students to stretch beyond outstanding vocal technique. “Voice lessons were equally instructions in life with directives that reflected core philosophies as demonstrated by a signature remark during one particular lesson: ‘Think of every positive thing you’ve got and in a broad, grand manner radiate it to the world.’ ”

© 2008 Trinity University

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