Vocal Competition Semi Finalist Judges

Our semi final round judges …

John Edward Niles was the music director and conductor of Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia/Aurora Opera from 1981 to 2012. He is the son of the American composer John Jacob Niles and freelance journalist Rena L. Niles. Mr. Niles received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 1967 and a master of music degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1969. He has been awarded grants from the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Martha Baird Rockefeller
Foundation. He also received an NDEA Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship to study advanced conducting in Hamburg, Germany, studying with such notable conductors as Richard Lert, Haigh Yaghijian, Hans Swarowsky, Erich Kunzel, Julius Rudel, and John Nelson.

After receiving his degree from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory
of Music, Mr. Niles went on to conduct at the Ithaca (NY) Opera Association, Salt City Playhouse (Syracuse, NY), Bel Canto Opera (New York City), Virginia Opera (Norfolk), Cavalier Productions and COLVA Productions (Arlington, VA), JMJ Productions (Washington, DC), and European-American Productions (Hanover, Germany). He was invited to conduct at the Auschwitz 50th Anniversary Memorial in Kracow, Poland and was the musical director of Euro-Fest in Prague in July 2002. He has been the director of the Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre, Woodbridge, Virginia, since 1978.

Mr. Niles holds the following positions: program director of the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program of The Wagner Society of Washington DC; the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices/The American Wagner Project, Dolora Zajick, Luana DeVol, artistic directors; and adjudicator of the Liederkranz Competition, Wagner Division, 2004-2013.


Henriette Lund is originally from Denmark, where she founded and sang in an opera company in the 1960s. After earning a doctoral degree in Scandinavian literature and a minor in Ancient Greek at the University of Copenhagen, she came to the United States in 1972. In the early 1970s and 1980s, she had leading roles in several smaller opera companies in the Washington, DC area and soloed in local churches. Since 1979, she has taught at The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music of The Catholic University of America as a vocal coach, specializing in German, French, and Scandinavian diction and repertoire. In the summer of 2014, she will launch a new opera company, Maryland Lyric Opera, serving as its artistic director under the leadership of Brad Clark.

Stan Engebretson, the artistic director of the National Philharmonic Chorale, has conducted throughout the United States and Europe, most notably in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, Italy, and in conducting workshops in Cologne and Trier, Germany and St. Moritz, Switzerland. He has studied with such great masters of choral music as Robert Shaw, Gregg Smith, Richard Westenburg, Roger Wagner, and Eric Ericson, conductor emeritus of the world- renowned Swedish Radio Choir in Stockholm, Sweden.

A native of North Dakota, Dr. Engebretson grew up in a musical environment, receiving his early training in the Scandinavian choral tradition. After receiving undergraduate and master’s degrees in piano and voice from the University of North Dakota, he earned his doctor of musical arts degree in conducting from Stanford University. Dr. Engebretson has held faculty positions in the University of Texas system and at the University of Minnesota. He also served as the artistic director of the Midland-Odessa Symphony Chorale and was the associate conductor of the Minnesota Chorale.

In Washington, DC since 1990, Dr. Engebretson is professor of music and director of choral studies at George Mason University and director of music at the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in addition to his work with the National Philharmonic Chorale. From 1993 to 2003, he was the artistic director of the predecessor to the National Philharmonic Chorale, the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra, and their semiprofessional smaller ensemble, the National Chamber Singers. In addition to these commitments, Dr. Engebretson remains active in other areas, including performances as a professional chorister. From 1993 to 2000, he served as lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival and, since 1998, he has led the Smithsonian Institution’s Study Journeys at the Spoleto-USA Festival of the Arts. In the summer of 2003, Dr. Engebretson appeared at the Europa Cantat in Barcelona, Spain, guiding participants on the presentation and interpretation of American music.