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The Wilkinson Young Singers Fund is pleased to announce the winners of its 2022 competition. The judges were impressed by the high caliber of the singers who applied and extend their gratitude to all applicants for their commitment to enriching the Boston-area vocal music scene and for their interest in sustaining the legacy of baritone Donald Wilkinson.

Music Sheets

2022 Winners


First-prize winner:

Ryan Lustgarten



Born and raised in Kirkland, Washington, tenor Ryan Lustgarten concluded his tenure at the Boston University Opera Institute in May of 2022. He received his Bachelor of Music in Voice and Opera Performance from Washington State University in 2016 and his Master’s Degree in Voice & Opera from Northwestern University in 2020, during which he performed a wide variety of operatic roles. Ryan’s most recent season has consisted of performing opera with the Boston University Opera Institute, Central City Opera, Shreveport Opera, City Lyric Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera; early music with Upper Valley Baroque in New Hampshire; and concert work with Symphony New Hampshire. Ryan spent two summers singing operatic roles for the Brancaleoni International Music Festival in Piobbico, Italy, and served as tenor section leader of the choir at Boston’s Saint Cecilia Parish. Away from the stage, he enjoys a quiet moment alone with a book, anything and everything Star Wars, and pickup soccer on the weekends. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanlustgarten.


Second-prize winner:

Omar Najmi



Praised for performances that “radiated joy” (Boston Globe) and “stole every scene” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), tenor Omar Najmi holds an M.M. from Boston University and a B.M. from Ithaca College. His upcoming engagements include his debut with Portland Opera as Shakur in Thumbprint, Rodolfo in La Bohème with Opera Steamboat, Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet with Boston Lyric Opera (in a free production on Boston Common), and the creation of the role of Bilal in the premiere of This Is Not That Dawn with Catalyst New Music, a Boston-based organization that he co-founded. Recent performances include tenor soloist in St. John Passion and San Giovanni in La Resurrezione with Emmanuel Music, the creation of the title role in Hamlet with State Opera Rousse, Alfredo in La Traviata with MassOpera, Tito in La Clemenza di Tito with Opera Steamboat, tenor soloist in BWV 61 with Upper Valley Baroque, and Sing Out Strong: Remembered Voices with White Snake Projects. Also active as a composer, Omar looks forward to the premieres of his motet The Last Invocation commissioned by Emmanuel Music — and his second opera This Is Not That Dawn. Learn more at

Music Sheets

2021 Winners


First-prize winner:

Kaileigh Riess



Massachusetts native Kaileigh Riess received a Performance Diploma in Opera in 2021 from Boston University's Opera Institute, a highly selective two-year training program for emerging operatic artists. While at the Institute, she starred as Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park and as Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress. She was named the third-place winner in the 2021 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition and a Boston District winner in the 2021 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and she went on to compete in the finals of the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition. Kaileigh received a Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. During the summer of 2021, she sang with The Music Academy of the West as a vocal fellow. Learn more at

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Second-prize winner:

David Thomas Mather



Baritone David Thomas Mather is a versatile and adaptive vocalist, an avid early music practitioner, and a musical theater enthusiast. He thrives when performing in a variety of styles, most notably vocal chamber music, Lieder, and art song. A professional chorister, he sings primarily as a member of the Boston-based Carduus ensemble and works as a section leader and cantor. He recently debuted with The Boston Camerata in their production of Dido and Aeneas: An Opera for Distanced Lovers and their Play of Daniel project tour, and has appeared with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Lowell House Opera, the Utah Symphony Chorus, and the Grand Teton Music Festival Chorus. In May of 2021, he received his Master of Music degree in Historical Performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Learn more at


Winterreise, D. 911, No. XXIV:

“Der Leiermann” by Franz Schubert

“Falling Slowly” from Once: The Musical 

by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová