Concordia alumna wins prizes, ‘most promising’ award at national singing competition

Mezzo-soprano Sadie Cheslak ’17 won the Harold Stark Prize for fourth place overall at the 2024 National Association of Teachers of Singing finals concert, which took place at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City in January. 

Cheslak also earned the James Browning and Dorothy Kirsten Award for Singer with the Most Potential, an honor NATS gives to recognize the "most promising singer" of the competition. 

After winning the Central Region round of the NATS Artist Awards this fall, Cheslak went on to the prestigious national contest, competing with 13 other top young vocalists from around the world.

“Placing in the finals at NATSAA, and especially winning the award for Most Promising Voice, is a huge honor," Cheslak said. "I’m so excited to get to share art song that isn’t often performed to such a wide audience.”

Cheslak’s finals performance can be viewed online, including her renditions of:

  • “Echo,” from Christina Rossetti Lyrics, No. 2, by Richard Faith.
  • Daleko został cały świat, Op. 2, No. 1, by Karol Szymanowski.
  • “Liber Scriptus,” from Verdi’s Requiem.
  • “Viens, mon bien-aimé!” by Cécile Chaminade.
  • “Wild Nights,” by Lee Hoiby.

Cheslak studied with Dr. Holly Janz while she was at Concordia.

“Concordia provided such a nurturing and encouraging environment to explore my passion for music and performance," she said. "Holly and Stephen Sulich, my coach, knew before I did that opera was where I was heading. I can’t thank them enough for helping me develop my voice and artistry, and in turn, to grow as a person during my time at Concordia.”

While at the college, Cheslak sang for the Fargo-Moorhead Opera and often returns to her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, to perform with the Lyric Opera of the North and as a featured soloist with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. She performs locally in Chicago with choruses and orchestras and teaches opera, music theater, and pop singing through House Call Music. Cheslak is joining Wolf Trap Opera this summer as a Studio Artist.

Cheslak earned her bachelor’s degree in voice from Concordia and her master’s degree in voice performance and literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is based in Chicago where she is finishing her post-master’s certificate in voice at DePaul University. 

The NATS Artist Awards is a biennial competition for early-career, classical vocalists designed to encourage singers "whose artistry indicates that they are ready for a professional career.”