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Star-Spangled Sing-Off

August 5, 2009

Performing arts organizations are becoming increasingly canny about leveraging new technology to create more inclusive, participatory experiences for their constituencies. The YouTube Symphony and San Francisco Symphony's Social Network are two recent examples of this trend. Now San Francisco Opera and the local commercial classical music radio station in the Bay Area, KDFC 102.1 FM are partnering on a quirky initiative to generate buzz around the upcoming Opera in the Ballpark performance of Verdi's Il Trovatore.

The collaboration centers on a public singing competition. Contestants are invited to audition via video submission for a chance to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" live at the ballpark during San Francisco Opera's September 19 simulcast of Il Trovatore. KDFC listeners will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite entries online to select three finalists. The panel of judges--San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti, as well as KDFC Program Director Bill Leuth--will review the finalists and select a winner to perform the national anthem a cappella in front of tens of thousands of opera fans gathered at the ballpark to experience SF Opera's production.

I asked Lueth about the impetus behind this intriguing idea: "It was inspired by our Classical Star Search contest this past spring where listeners submitted video performances, and other listeners helped pick who was the best," says Lueth. "The opera folks and KDFC agreed that a kickoff of something big at a ballpark feels like it needs a Star-Spangled Banner performed live there. We know we have tons of talented listeners, so we're going to show them off and have some fun."

Here's some more information about entering the competition for all you songbirds out there:

Video submissions should consist of one person singing their own a cappella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and should be uploaded at Singers of any age, including both professionals and amateurs, are welcome. Submissions will be accepted the weeks of August 10 and August 17, and listener voting will begin the week of August 24. The three finalists will be posted on KDFC's website the week of August 31, and the panel of judges will determine the winner in time for KDFC radio personality Hoyt Smith to announce the winner on the September 8 KDFC Morning show. The winner of the "KDFC Star-Spangled Sing-Off" will perform live at AT&T Park on September 19 prior to San Francisco Opera's Webcor Presents Opera at the Ballpark. For complete rules and information, visit


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