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Winners of National Anthem Singing Contest Announced

Winners of National Anthem Singing Contest Announced

Winners of National Anthem Singing Contest Announced

June 25, 2014Press Release

The Maryland State Arts Council and Star-Spangled 200 have announced the winners of Star-Spangled Sing-Off, one of many activities in the lead up to the 200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written in Baltimore during the War of 1812.

The contest called for Marylanders to record their solo, a capella rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” post it to YouTube and enter the contest by submitting a link to their performance. After a panel of judges selected eight finalists, the public was asked to vote for their favorite rendition of The National Anthem.

Rolando Sanz, a Bethesda-based opera singer who has twice performed the Anthem at Camden Yards’ Opening Day Ceremony received the most votes in the online contest and wins the top prize of $1,814 and the opportunity to perform at a public event of Star-Spangled Spectacular, Sept. 10-16 in Baltimore.

Sanz, who has performed at an international array of venues and events, including Carnegie Hall, Aspen Music Festival, Florentine Opera, The Annapolis Opera and others, also serves as Artistic Director of Young Artists of America, an organization he co-founded to provide young musicians with opportunities to be mentored by professional artists.

Sanz said that what sets “The Star-Spangled Banner” apart is its universal significance. “This is one of the first songs that we all as Americans learn to sing in school or upon first immigrating to the U.S. The song itself stands alone and should be an inspiration to each of us as Americans.”

Placing second in the Sing-Off is Bill Harris of Germantown, who retires this July after a forty-year career as a music teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools. Beyond Harris’ remarkable tenure as an educator, he has also performed in several principal musical theatre roles including Fiddler On The Roof, The Pajama Game, Little Shop of Horrors and The Merry Widow as well as church, choral and cabaret presentations.

Amy Keesun Kwon of Baltimore, who holds a Masters of Music degree from The Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, places third. Kwon appeared as a soprano soloist for the Millennium Stage concert Songs of the Forgotten War and as a soloist with Hines-Lee Opera Ensemble for the Opera Gala concert at the Terrace Theatre at The Kennedy Center. Additionally, she has received Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2010 (Solo Musical Performance) and 2011 (Classical Music Solo Performance).

“Many thousands of votes were cast and we are thrilled to present three high-caliber Maryland vocalists that were chosen by Marylanders. We thank those who entered the contest, and the many who voted as well,” said Hannah Byron, assistant secretary, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts at the Maryland Department of Commerce.

The public will be able to hear all three of the winners perform The National Anthem at Star-Spangled Spectacular. The free, family-friendly event, Sept. 10-16 in and around Baltimore city, will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the Star-Spangled Banner with re-enactments, fireworks, parades, and a maritime festival that will include a televised event at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. View each winner’s YouTube submissions at


About the Maryland State Arts Council
The mission of the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, is to encourage and invest in the advancement of the arts for the people of Maryland. The latest economic impact report shows that MSAC grantees' activities support more than 12,700 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $1.07 billion in economic activity and $48 million in state and local taxes.

About Star-Spangled 200
Star-Spangled 200, a national bicentennial in Maryland, commemorates the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812. Star-Spangled Sailabration in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay launched the multi-year commemoration in June 2012. Sailabration included a maritime festival with 45 vessels from a dozen nations and an airshow featuring the Blue Angels, and drew more than 1.5 million visitors. Star-Spangled 200 continued Spring 2013 through Summer 2014 with the Chesapeake Campaign, a series of more than a dozen festivals in waterfront communities around the Bay. Two conferences were held at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2013 - Cross Tech, June 10-11 and From Enemies to Allies, June 12-15 – bringing together leaders in cyber security and scholars from the U.K, Canada and the U.S. Events will culminate with Star-Spangled Spectacular, September 10-16, 2014, celebrating the 200th birthday of the National Anthem.  Star-Spangled 200 is supported by its Presenting Sponsor AT&T with Founding Partner support from Constellation and Papa John’s. For more information, please visit or

Media Contact: 

Kate McMillan, Communications Manager, 410-767-8851