We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Mary Claire Curran ’11

May 2, 2017

Mary Claire Curran ’11 grew up listening to Motown, rock and roll and show tunes, but an experience at a performing arts camp exposed her to a new genre of music.

“Opera found me and I was hooked,” she said.

Curran, a soprano, had a plethora of opportunities to develop her craft during her undergraduate studies as a vocal performance major at UNCW. Those experiences have been key to Curran’s professional career. She sang as a soloist with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra three times before the age of 21.  

“Throughout my time at UNCW, I was constantly practicing my craft through important educational outreach with the Wilmington Opera Outreach Project, with concerts in the surrounding Wilmington community and in student recitals,” she said. “I had no idea how lucky I was! I know singers my age who have still not sung with a professional orchestra.”

Curran, who was a recipient of the Mary Ann and Spencer Everett Scholarship, earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at UNCW and a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. She has performed as a solo artist at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Broadway’s Symphony Space and L.A.’s Marina Stage at the California Plaza. Curran has had her own cabaret series in Baltimore.

Earlier this year, Curran competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the “Super Bowl” of the opera world. She was the 2017 Eastern Region winner of the Rohatyn Great Promise Award.

“I, the underdog, made it into the play-offs! It was a phenomenal honor, a nerve-wracking experience and I am so grateful for the positive outcome,” she said. “I was prepared and proved I could compete at the same tier as the conservatory-trained winners.”

Winning the Rohatyn Award has allowed Curran to invest in voice lessons and expand her network. She hopes the award will lead to even bigger things.

“I have a few opera companies that I am excited to audition for,” she continued. “In the next five years, I hope to be singing at A-level opera houses.”

Curran came to UNCW as one person but left as another, she said, due to the university’s supportive environment and guidance from Nancy King, associate professor of music.

“UNCW gave me a phenomenal liberal arts education with scholarship opportunity at an affordable price,” she said. “The state-of-the-art music building was my home. I felt the faculty had top-of-the-line training and were extremely approachable. I am proud to be a Seahawk.”

- Venita Jenkins