Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition


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The Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition is sponsored by the William E. Schmidt Foundation, and is open to talented vocal artists who are currently high school sophomores, juniors or seniors, and who are recommended by their vocal teachers or choral directors. The goal of the competition is to encourage and nurture young people in the arts. We create a warm, inviting atmosphere in which young singers can compete to the best of their abilities. Each competition is a full and rewarding day for everyone involved.

In Memoriam

William E. Schmidt (September 15, 1933 - August 16, 2014)

William Schmidt was born in Irvin, Kentucky. He graduated from DePauw University and received an MBA from George Washington University. He was a successful real estate developer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was a Mason for over fifty years and was a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force and later a flight instructor. Bill had an excellent work ethic and through hard work and determination he claimed his share of the American dream. But instead of harboring this dream for his own, he chose to share the possibility with others and in this generosity the arts found a champion. Bill believed in the youth of America and established a foundation to encourage youth in the arts so they can go forth into the world to open up minds, to nourish souls, and to remind us of what it means to be human.

In infinite gestures, both small and large, Bill, you have made all of our lives better and for that we are incredibly grateful. Although you are gone from our sight, your legacy will live on in the lives of the children that you influence and support.



Sherrill MilnesThe Schmidt Competition is proud to welcome world-renowned operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes to our distinguished panel of judges.





Two winners of the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition were recently featured on the acclaimed NPR radio program, From the Top, which showcases the talents of young musicians around the country and is hosted by pianist, Christopher O'Riley. Click on the links below to listen to 'Sneak Peek' videos on YouTube. Complete broadcasts can be found at

Aaron Bigeleisen, Show 254 - Houston, TX (Minute 1:27)
2011-12 Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition - West Virginia Winner

Emily Hellenbrook, Show 257 - Chautauqua, NY (Minute 1:22)
2010-11 Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition - West Virginia Winner

Let us know about your successes. One of the great joys of the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition is the relationships that we build with our young artists. Read below one student's experience at our competition in Florida...

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt,

Maria Elaine Sulimirski

After having a wonderful experience and winning second place at the Florida Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition on Saturday, I wanted to take a moment to extend my gratitude for your generosity. I enjoyed performing, learned very much from observing the Master Class, and am growing from the judges' comments. I intend to put the money toward my musical education (it's already in the bank)!

The impact your generosity has had on my life extends beyond the Schmidt Awards. Last May, I had the privilege of playing Bilbo Baggins in the Sarasota Youth Opera U.S. Premiere of "The Hobbit" when the William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre opened after the incredible renovation. This season, I have had the opportunity to sing the Shepherd solo in the beginning of Act III in Sarasota Opera's production of "Tosca". Your theatre holds many of my favorite memories, and the vision of the Schmidt Opera Theatre and my competition trophy both serve as tangible reminders of your generosity!

Thank you for all that you do to support the arts in the Sarasota community. You have inspired me to pursue my passion for music, a gift for which I will be forever grateful!

Yours Truly,
Maria Elaine Sulimirski