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NOA members are the foundation builders for the future of opera


 ANN ARBOR, MI – July 22, 2021 – The National Opera Association (NOA) launches two new fellowship programs to support graduate study in vocal performance and opera composition. Thanks to a generous endowment established by the prominent American composer, Dominick Argento (1927-2019), and his wife, the soprano Carolyn Bailey Argento (1930-2006), the fellowships will provide full tuition and living expenses for graduate study for two recipients - one in vocal performance and the other in composition, up to $50,000 per year each.

The Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship for Vocal Performance honors the memory of Mrs. Argento, who was a professional opera singer.  Both this new vocal performance fellowship and the new  Dominick Argento Fellowship for Opera Composition will be awarded to candidates who demonstrate the highest level of musical talent and professional potential.   The fellowships will support up to two years of study for students pursuing a master’s degree and up to three years of study for students pursuing a Doctoral degree at an accredited US educational institution.

Applications for the inaugural awards will be accepted through October 15, 2021 via the NOA website.  Recipients will be selected on a competitive basis (see specific guidelines for each fellowship program at  Only one fellowship award in each program will be in effect at a time; future successive competition rounds will be announced as funding becomes available, as recipients complete their degree programs. There are no residency or nationality requirements for this fellowship.  Selection will be made without regard for race, color, religion, national origin, disability status, marital status, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identification of the candidate.   The awards are administered by NOA through the Tulsa Community Foundation.

Finalists for both fellowship programs will be announced in December.  The vocal performance fellowship recipient will be selected during the final round of the 2022 Carolyn Bailey Argento Vocal Competition in January.  Both fellowship awards will be announced in January at NOA’s national conference which will take place in St. Augustine, Florida. 

Dominick Argento is considered to be one of America’s leading composers, known especially for his output of opera, choral and art song.  His many awards and accolades received included: the Pulitzer Prize in Music, a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, appointment as Composer Laureate to the Minnesota Orchestra, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the George Peabody Medal for his exceptional contribution to music in America.  A longtime teacher of theory and composition at the University of Minnesota from 1958 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus, he trained and mentored generations of composers who have themselves supported the advancement of American Music.

“Dominick Argento was extremely grateful for the foundational education he received in graduate school which he felt paved the way for his lifetime of professional accomplishments as a composer and as a teacher.  His wife, Carolyn, and his parents, were steadfast in their support and encouragement of him through those years of graduate school, enabling him to focus on his musical development without having to worry about finances.  His desire with these fellowships was to provide similar support for artists to focus on their graduate study without having to take side jobs to pay the rent,” said NOA Executive Director Kirk Severtson. “We are honored to serve as stewards of Dominick Argento’s distinguished legacy, as we work to realize his vision for supporting future generations of singers and composers.”

Founded in 1955, the National Opera Association is a service organization that promotes excellence in opera education and pedagogy through its support of a diverse community of opera educators and professionals.  NOA supports all facets of opera performance, education and research in college, university, and young artist programs.  The organization’s members include college and university opera faculty, students, composers, librettists, scholars, and anyone interested in opera and opera education.  NOA is especially recognized for its groundbreaking Legacy Project, which has supported and celebrated diversity in the arts for over 25 years.

For more information and to apply for the fellowships before October 15, 2021 please visit NOA’s website at  


For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457, Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).