Clayton State University senior Jacob Augsten tied for first place in the annual music scholarship competition sponsored by the Atlanta Alumni Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, held at Clayton State on Saturday, Nov. 15.
This was the second first place finish in as many years in the Mu Phi Epsilon competition for baritone Augsten, who both years was the only prize-winner from any University System of Georgia institution. Augsten, a graduate of Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga., is pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in Music Education at Clayton State and currently is president of Clayton State’s Delta Psi Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, an international co-ed fraternity in the professional field of music.
A voice student of Director of Vocal Studies and Opera Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller, Augsten has appeared in several leading roles with Clayton State University’s Music Drama Workshop, including Linus in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sir Ruthven in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, and Antipholus of Syracuse in Rodgers and Hart’s The Boys from Syracuse, as well as with the professional chorus of Atlanta Opera.
Augsten came out on top of the Mu Phi Epsilon competition against a field full of contestants singing works by opera composers by instead performing art songs by Schubert and Vaughan Williams, winning praise from the judging panel for his clear and expressive diction and superb communication skills.
“Although it’s true that many opera arias are more vocally flashy, Jacob truly has come to the understanding that art songs are not some training-wheels preparation with which to merely bide your time until the voice is mature enough for the ‘real’ music of opera,” says Zeller. “Songs are their own deep and subtle artistic medium for inhabiting and sharing a musical story. Few young singers ‘get’ that the way Jacob already does. So I encouraged him to play to his strengths, not to expectations. It paid off.”