top of page

Meet our 2018 Finals Judges

Christopher Cano

A seasoned recitalist and orchestra soloist, Christopher Cano has performed in Europe, across the US, Mexico, Israel and the Far East. 

Mr. Cano has won numerous awards including the Green Valley Scholarship Competition, Emilio Osta Scholarship Competition, Tucson Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and is a recipient of the Theodore Presser Scholarship. He is also a two-time winner of the University of Arizona President’s Concert Concerto Competition. 

As a collaborative artist, he has played in the Master Classes of the late Fedora Barbieri, the late Anna Moffo and for master classes of Marilyn Horne in New York City at Carnegie Hall.  As a studio pianist, Mr. Cano has had the distinct privilege of working with some of the great artists and teachers of singing including Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Marni Nixon, Patricia McCaffrey, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, Rita Shane and Diana Soviero.  

Mr. Cano has performed as a guest soloist and chamber musician at the Killington Music Festival in Vermont, the Alamos Music Festival of Sonora, Mexico, and has participated and performed with the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel and Blacksburg, Virginia.  Mr. Cano has been a member of the music staff at the Festival Lyrique en Mer in Belle Isle, France, Toledo Opera, San Diego Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Company of North Carolina, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Saratoga, Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Mr. Cano has served on the faculties of The Intermezzo Music Festival, Manhattan School of Music Summer Voice Institute, and V.O.I.C.Experience, a summer program for promising young singers in New York City and Savannah under the Artistic Direction of renowned baritone, Sherrill Milnes. 

A graduate of the University of Arizona, Mr. Cano was a full-scholarship student in the Professional Studies Program of Vocal Accompanying at the Manhattan School of Music where he was a student of renowned pianist, Warren Jones.


Currently, Mr. Cano serves as the Head of Music and Director of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio of Arizona Opera. 

Dolora Zajick

Hailed as a “force of nature” (Variety), Dolora Zajick has been internationally acclaimed as that rare voice type, a true dramatic Verdi mezzo-soprano, typified by the composer’s most famous and difficult mezzo-soprano roles. With her expressive vocal palette, seamless technique and ability to communicate even the most complex character, Dolora is particularly renowned for her interpretations of Azucena in Il Trovatore, Amneris in Aida, and Eboli in Don Carlo on the world’s greatest stages. She has appeared in opera and concert with some of the foremost conductors of today, which include James Levine, Anthony Pappano, the late Bruno Bartoletti, James Conlon, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Charles Mackerras, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the late Mstislav Rostropovich.

Highlights of Dolora’s 2017-2018 season include performances as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Liceu in Barcelona, as Mamma Rosa in Cilea’s l’Arlesiana at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and her role debut as Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel at the Metropolitan Opera. In recent seasons Dolora has continued to take on new roles such as Mary in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Mrs. Grose in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with the Dallas Opera and as Madame de Croissy in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmelites with the Washington National Opera. As well she premiered two of her own compositions:  Roads to Zion was performed at the international gathering to celebrate the life of St. Teresa of Avila and her work commissioned for the National Youth Choral Festival was given its first performance in San Francisco. Roads to Zion was reprised in concert with Spain’s Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid Other highlights include performances as Ortrud in a new production of Lohengrin at Madrid’s Teatro Real, a role in which she made her debut at the Los Angeles Opera in 2010, as Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica in Barcelona, as Ježibaba in Dvorák’s Rusalka, as the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera where, in a single season, she also took on Verdi’s three premier mezzo roles: Azucena in Il Trovatore, Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera and Amneris in Aida.  She Houston welcomed her as Amneris in Aida and as Azucena in Il Trovatore and Washington National Opera as Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma.  

Preliminary Round Judges

Dr. Wan-Chin Chang

Dr. Kay Etheridge

Raul Prieto Ramirez

Dr. Craig Johnson

Peter Kozma

David Marshmann

Mary Gerard (former MMF protege)

John Wilds

Dick Robinette (former MMF protege)

Elizabeth York


Twin Cities-based violinist Elizabeth York began her musical studies at a young age in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina with her mother, Jane York. Following the completion of a dual DMA in violin and viola performance at Stony Brook University, she moved to Saint Paul, MN in June 2013 where she lives with her husband, double bassist Josh Schwalbach. 


Dr. York is the upper strings faculty at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND and teaches private violin and viola lessons in the Twin Cities. Since 2013 she has served as a violin teaching assistant for the Symphony Orchestra at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin.


She is a member of Lyra Baroque Orchestra and regularly performs with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. She has served as guest concertmaster of Kenwood and Rochester Symphony Orchestras, and is the former concertmaster of Minnehaha Music Repertory Orchestra. She also enjoys a busy freelancing career in the Twin Cities.


A versatile and dynamic musician, she has performed as a soloist with the Raleigh Symphony and Minnehaha Music Repertory Orchestras, as a baroque violinist for St. Mark’s Episcopal Early Music series in Islip, NY, and in contemporary music performances at New York City’s Merkin Hall and Symphony Space. 


Dr. York was a featured guest for the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival “Next Generation” concert series and has also performed with members of the Emerson String Quartet as part of the Stony Brook Chamber Music Festival. Recent chamber music performances have included appearances at Steinway Hall in New York City, Southampton Cultural Center, the Schubert Club’s courtroom concert series at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, and NDSU Chamber Music Festival.


In addition to her doctorate, Dr. York holds a BM from East Carolina University, and a MM from Stony Brook University, both degrees in violin performance. Her major teachers include violinists Ara Gregorian, Soovin Kim, and Phil Setzer, and violists Dan Panner, Nicholas Cords, and Larry Dutton. 

Cassie Keogh


Cassie Keogh is Assistant Professor of Clarinet at North Dakota State University. She teaches applied clarinet lessons, woodwind chamber music, and music theory classes, and performs various duties in the music education curriculum. Dr. Keogh has taught music theory at Oklahoma City University, University of Oklahoma, and Michigan State University. Her recent performances include the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest® in Baton Rouge LA, the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music in Belfast Northern Ireland, and the Society for ElectroAcoustic Music of the United States (SEAMUS) in Middletown, CT. She recently presented her research on Joan Tower’s music for clarinet at the National, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain Regional Conferences of the College Music Society. Dr. Keogh previously served as the Assistant Director of the University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium and currently serves as Volunteer Coordinator for the International Clarinet Association. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from the University of Montana, Master’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Theory Pedagogy from Michigan State University, and a Doctorate in Clarinet Performance from the University of Oklahoma. Her teachers include Suzanne Tirk, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and Maxine Ramey.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in rural Montana, Cassie attended a one-room schoolhouse from kindergarten through fifth grade. Today, Cassie enjoys returning home to Montana to work on the family ranch and work outdoors.  In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities (hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding) and reading.  She is also curious about botany and rangeland ecology.

Timothy Hagen

Timothy Hagen is an internationally acclaimed flutist whose “technical virtuosity and musical sensitivity” (NewMusicBox) have led to prizes from the Australian International Flute Competition, Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition (USA) and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (USA). He was also the only American semifinalist in the 2007 Jeunesses Musicales International Flute Competition (Serbia).

Dr. Hagen’s passion for music from all eras and places is displayed in the numerous concerts he performs each year. As Principal Flute of the Missouri Symphony, Tim spends his summers in Columbia, Missouri, where in 2013, he debuted as a soloist with the MSO Chamber Players. Aside from the MSO, he has performed with orchestras throughout the United States, including the San Antonio Symphony, Eugene Symphony, Midland-Odessa Symphony, and Winston-Salem Symphony. He has also had solo debuts at New York’s Lincoln Center and 92nd Street Y and has appeared at numerous festivals.

Dr. Hagen received his Doctor of Musical Arts from The University of Texas at Austin, Professional Studies Certificate from the Colburn School, Master of Music from the University of Southern California, and Bachelor of Music from the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Lora Deahl

Lora Deahl is Professor of Piano and Keyboard Literature at Texas Tech University and Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Curricular Issues in the J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts. She earned degrees with highest honors from the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, and the University of Texas at Austin. 

Dr. Deahl has appeared as concerto soloist with the Honolulu, Lubbock, Texas Tech University, and Southwest 

Symphony Orchestras and has given numerous solo recitals, chamber music concerts, masterclasses, and lectures throughout the U.S., Canada, South Korea, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Known for her research concerning the biomechanics of piano technique, Dr. Deahl’s most recent project, a groundbreaking study of adaptive strategies for small-handed pianists co-written with former student Brenda Wristen, was issued by Oxford University Press in Fall 2017. She has also published articles on piano literature and pedagogy in leading music journals and has presented papers on related topics at numerous national and international meetings.

Professor Deahl is an elected member of Texas Tech University’s Teaching Academy, an honorary designation for master teachers of that institution.  She is the recipient of the Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award from the Texas Music Teachers Association and the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award from Texas Tech University. 

James Welch

James Welch is the University Organist and lecturer in music at California’s Santa Clara University, where he joined the music faculty in January 1993. He also serves as organist at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto. Awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance at Stanford University, he studied with Herbert Nanney and served as Assistant University Organist. From 1977 to 1994, he served as University Organist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The recipient of a Fulbright award to pursue research on historical Cavaille-Coll organs in Brazil, Dr. Welch has presented lectures and recitals on this subject at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and has concertized in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.  He has also edited and published three volumes of organ works by Mexican composers.

His world-wide appearances include recitals at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris; St. Stefans Cathedral, Vienna; Wellington Cathedral, New Zealand; National Theater, Taipei; Beijing Concert Hall; University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Harvard, Yale, and Duke Universities; National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.; The Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; Stanford Memorial Church. He has numerous recordings that are frequently aired on public radio.

bottom of page