SUMMIT, NJ - It was a grand evening held at a grand location in the Hilltop City.

The Grand Summit Hotel, the event's title sponsor, also served as the host venue as Heather Bobeck, Alexis Rodda, and Ji Eun Park were named the Milton Cross Young Artist winners at the Minuetto Music Festival. Awards were presented at the red carpet, black tie Young Artist Showcase held at the legendary lodge, with international Opera Star Sandra Yvonne Lopez, along with Festival Co-Chairs Betse Gump and Lyle Brehm, presenting the engraved crystal awards.

A week-long intensive program for vocal artists, the program recognized additional winners including Rising Star Award Winners  Melanie Mendel and Jessica Walch, and Emerging Artists Winners Dena Marie Andrews, Laura Winslow, Brian Alvarado and Gabriel Shapiro.

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The singers were selected by audition with applicants as far away as the United Kingdom. Throughout the intensive festival week, lessons, coachings, master classes and rehearsals are scheduled. The Festival concluded with a concert version of Lehar’s The Merry Widow conducted by Artistic Director Dr. Beverly Coulter at Central Presbyterian Church.

Milton Cross Winner Heather Bobeck is a local artist currently nurturing her talents as a freelance singer, and starred in the role of Natalie in Minuetto Music Festival’s The Merry Widow. She was also selected as a district winner in this year’s Metropolitan Opera National competition.

Soprano Alexis Rodda is described by New York Classical Review as having “a lovely voice, full of color and body in every register.” She was featured as Sonia in Minuetto’s Merry Widow.

Dr. Ji Eun Park, Do-Do in Merry Widow was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She made her debut at Boston Symphony Hall as a soprano soloist of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Ken-David Masur.

The Milton Cross Young Artist Competition is named for American radio announcer Milton Cross, best known as the voice of the Metropolitan Opera, hosting its Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts for 43 years. His distinctive voice conveyed the excitement of live performances “from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City” for generations of radio listeners. According to Janet Whitman, his grandniece, Cross was dedicated to promoting the careers of young performers, and she was pleased that the Minuetto Festival named the young artist program in his memory.

The Minuetto Music Festival is produced by the Continuo Arts Foundation.