Dr. Heather Hawk, assistant professor of vocal performance at Tarleton State University, captivated a panel of judges and an Austrian audience to win first place at the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies (AIIMS) Meistersinger Vocal Competition in Graz, Austria.

Hawk, an award-winning operatic soprano, was among 42 competitors from the preliminary round who advanced to the Aug. 11 finals with seven other vocalists as part of the 36th annual competition. Her performance of Gustave Charpentier’s Depuis le jour, the third act from the opera “Louise,” was accompanied by the AIMS Festival Orchestra in the finals held at the renowned Helmut List Halle, and culminated in Hawk winning first place and a monetary prize.

Hawk traveled to Austria in early July to study with AIMS in Graz, a leading summer music program designed to prepare vocalists for their careers as professional musicians. The six-week, world-class training allowed the Tarleton professor to study opera and lieder repertoire, attend master classes with accomplished teachers and voice coaches, and to perform with renowned European conductors.

“Attending AIMS in Graz was such an amazing experience. I love this program, the instructors, the participants and Austria. Studying here has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about music and has inspired me in a way that I’ve never felt before,” said Hawk. “Winning this competition means so much because of the high-caliber of singers involved in the program. It was a fantastic concert with a stellar orchestra.”