The Italian Cultural Center Vocal Scholarship began quietly in 1976 when Josephine LiPuma, an opera singer, music teacher and volunteer at the Italian Cultural Center, approached the Rev. August Feccia about starting a vocal competition under the name of the center. Ms. LiPuma wanted to start the scholarship as an encouragement to young students of opera. Fr. Feccia was in agreement that this would be a perfect event for the ICC. Two opera scholarships were offered to students of Italian Heritage and each year the scholarship honored a different Italian singer or composer.
In 1987, Ms. LiPuma was terminally Ill and the scholarship committee voted to name the event in her honor because of her devotion and commitment to her art, family and Italian heritage. She was able to attend the competition and was honored that the committee chose to name it in her honor. Her final request to her family was to ensure that the vocal scholarship continued.
The 39th Annual Vocal Scholarship founded and named in her honor was held on Nov. 9. Her daughter Leonora and granddaughter Francesca have honored her wishes and this year nine scholarships were awarded. The competition is now open to all students of opera and there were 45 students who auditioned this year. The Josephine LiPuma Scholarship sponsored by her family is $2,000 and the other eight scholarships sponsored by organizations or families are $1,000 each.
With the help of the Committee and the staff of Casa, new sponsors have been attracted to this wonderful event. Each year, the audience is entranced by the incredible concert of Italian arias and art songs preformed by these students age 17 to 27.
We are looking forward to our 40th anniversary. The success of this event and how it has grown is a tribute to Josephine LiPuma and her art. Her family and the many dedicated committee members and sponsors will see that Ms. LiPuma’s wishes are upheld and that the vocal scholarship will continue and grow.
Co-Chairpersons of the 2014 event were Leonora LiPuma and Estelle Raimondi. The committee consisted of Vito D’Ambrosio, Lilia Juarez, Gilda Marzullo, Michelle A. Moreno, John Rizzo, Dr. Francesca Turner and Josette Mentesana Weber.
Sponsored by the LiPuma Family, the First Place Josephine L. LiPuma Scholarship went to baritone Zachary Elmassian.
Soprano Kelsey Betzelberger earned the Nicholas Raimondi Scholarship.
Sponsored by George and Phyllis Mucianti, the Second Place Josephine L. LiPuma Scholarship went to baritone Alex York.
Soprano Marisa Buchheit earned the LiPuma Family Memorial Scholarship.
The Italian American Executives of Transportation Scholarship went to tenor Jameon Moss.
Mezzo soprano Molly Burke earned the Turano Family Scholarship.
The Jan and John Rizzo Grant for Vocal Artistry went to soprano Andrea Baker.
Soprano Angela De Venuto earned the Spiner Family Scholarship.
The Italian American War Veterans, Joseph Gentile Post 2 Scholarship went to dramatic soprano Kelsey Boesche.