Locally acclaimed vocalist, 16-year-old Emmanuel (EJ) Couloucoundis, took his classical singing skills to compete at the Musical Club of Hartford's 35th annual High School Classical Voice Competition at the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford on Jan. 9. The prestigious statewide competition, which is open to all aspiring classical singers attending high school, draws Connecticut's most promising young classical vocalists to compete for scholarship money to further their music education.

Twenty selected singers from around the state participated this year, and when it was all over, the judges, music professors from a number of Connecticut Universities, declared EJ the winner.

EJ, a bass-baritone, performed Ruggiero Leoncavallo's "Mattinata" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "I am a Pirate King" from the opera "Pirates of Penzance." He returned to Hartford Jan. 23 where he also gave a vocal performance during the awards ceremony.

EJ is a junior at Darien High School. He attends Mannes College the New School for Music pre-college vocal program in New York on the weekends.

While better known in the area for applying his vocal skills to Big Band, Jazz and the Great American Song Book at many charity functions and area events, he trains classically on a full-time basis and equally enjoys the classical repertoire.

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