Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program

The Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program provides training, performance opportunities, and access to industry connections and resources to a group of opera’s talented rising stars. As one of the most competitive training programs in the nation, the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program receives over 650 applicants annually for an average of 12-20 artist contracts. Emerging Artists appear in Virginia Opera mainstage productions, tour in fully-staged educational programs, and perform in recitals, donor events, and the VO Master Teacher Series. In addition, Emerging Artists receive regular coachings with VO’s artistic staff, including Artistic Director Adam Turner, as well as guest conductors and mainstage artists. Recent alumni of the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program include: Megan Marino, David Blalock, Courtney Miller, David Pershall, Brian Jagde, Jeni Houser, Shannon Jennings-Holman, and Nathan Stark.

Applications & Auditions

Emerging Artists

Applications for auditions for the 2021-2022 page are now closed.

Apprentice Coaches

Auditions for apprentice coaches will be posted at a later date. Please check back.

Past auditions have required a Mozart finale of your choice from either Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni or Le nozze di Figaro. Applicants have also been asked to play and sing the three arias listed below, to display varied levels of style, facility, and understanding of accompagnato recitative:

  • “No word from Tom” from The Rake’s Progress
  • “Sein wir wieder gut” from Ariadne auf Naxos
  • “Hai già la vinta la causa” from Le nozze di Figaro


The Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program provides exceptionally talented artists with a seasonal residency program that offers an extensive schedule of performing opportunities in the context of a professional training program. Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists receive weekly compensation plus housing and transportation to Virginia.

Virginia Opera is committed to finding and training the outstanding artists of tomorrow. Those selected to participate in the program will be challenged and supported by an outstanding staff.  The Program offers significant opportunities for professional growth for those truly committed to the field of opera.

Performance Opportunities

Virginia Opera’s Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading and comprimario roles and/or cover leading roles in the company’s mainstage productions. Further, some Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading roles in fully-staged Education and Community Outreach productions, touring schools throughout the state of Virginia. Community concerts and company promotional events offer artists the opportunity to perform standard arias and ensembles in concerts with piano. In addition, Virginia Opera has a rich history of re-engaging Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists for mainstage productions in future seasons

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives regular coachings with members of Virginia Opera’s Artistic Staff, which include Artistic Director Adam Turner, Assistant Conductor/Chorus Master Brandon Eldredge, and various guest conductors, directors, and mainstage singers. Masterclasses are held throughout the season covering topics such as résumé preparation, career management, auditioning techniques, stagecraft, and foreign languages.

Apprentice Coaches

Education and Community Outreach Performance Opportunities

Apprentice Coaches must serve as musical directors and pianists for Education and Community Outreach productions, including selected evenings of Arias & Duets. Coaches learn the basics of artistic administration and company management by serving as tour managers for VO’s statewide touring educational programs.

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives coachings from Artistic Director Adam Turner and Assistant Conductor/Chorus Master Brandon Eldredge. Coaches will receive training and support from administrative staff to aid in tour management. The in-house artistic staff offers classes in resume preparation and auditioning techniques during the course of the season. Master classes are held with visiting stage directors and other distinguished guests throughout the season.

Candidate Qualifications

Apprentice coaches should have attained at least a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and have exceptional experience in vocal accompanying. Graduate work is strongly preferred. Individuals should be capable of managing artists on tour and overseeing non-artistic aspects of the Virginia Opera’s Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program.

2020-2021 Emerging Artists


Symone Harcum


Whitney Robinson

Marissa Simmons


Andrew Turner


Nicholas Martorano


Eric McConnell