Saturday, October 25, 2014

CONDUCTOR WINNER, RUNNERS-UP: opera division

The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Conducting—opera division. Congratulations! All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of other winners, finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Use the archive navigation tool in the right-hand column. 

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Conducting
—opera division

The American Prize winner:
MARIA SENSI SELLNER, music director
Resonance Works / Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
MARIA SENSI SELLNER
Maria Sensi Sellner is recognized for her versatility as a conductor of opera, orchestras, and choruses. Praised for leading with “flexible assurance” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “authority” (Pittsburgh Tribune Review), Ms. Sellner’s performances have been described as “sterling” (The Boston Globe), “adept” (Schenectady Daily Gazette), and “nothing short of incredible” (Berkshire on Stage).  Back to back winner of the American Prize in Opera Conducting, she is the founder and Artistic Director of Resonance Works | Pittsburgh, Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, and Associate Conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (chorus of choice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra). She has conducted productions for Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, the Boston Opera Collaborative, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, the Solon Center for the Arts, and the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music.  She has guest conducted the Akron Symphony Orchestra, the Edgewood Symphony, and the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, and recently served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University as Interim Director of Choirs.  

Among judges' comments: "mighty impressive...excellent work. Beat always mirrors the energy and feeling of what is to come."


2nd Place:
LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA, music director
Lowell House Opera, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA
Lidiya Yankovskaya serves as Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble (a fully-professional instrumental ensemble most recently in residency at The Boston Conservatory), and as Music Director of Harvard’s Lowell House Opera, Commonwealth Lyric Theater, and the Development Series for Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC. Recent productions include Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka with Lowell House Opera, Rachmaninoff’s Aleko with Commonwealth Lyric Theater (winner of National Opera Association Prize, Professional Category), and the world premiere of Line Tjorhoj’s Orations, with Center for Contemporary Opera.  She has also served as Assistant Conductor with Gotham Chamber Opera and as Assistant Conductor/Chorus Master for Opera Boston.  Upcoming projects include the world premiere of The Little Blue One with Juventas New Music Ensemble, Delibes’ Lakmé with Lowell House Opera, and Gianni Schicchi and Le Nozze di Figaro with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater.  Additionally, she is thrilled to spend the summer  as one of three fellows at the Castleton Festival, under the tutelage of Maestro Lorin Maazel.  In addition to her work as a conductor, Lidiya is a pianist, singer and coach, most recently serving as pianist for Opera Boston’s Education Tours and as the Russian Diction Coach for Boston Symphony Orchestra/Tanglewood Festival Chorus.  www.LidiyaYankovskaya.com

Among judges' comments: "...impressive production of a difficult score...beat is energetic, welcoming... judicious tempos, high level of knowledge of material..."

 
3rd Place:
KIRA OMELCHENKO, guest conductor
Bulgarian State Opera Company
Tampa, FL 
KIRA OMELCHENKO
Dr. Kira Omelchenko is assistant professor of music and the director of the Orchestra and Strings Program at Florida Southern College. Prior to Florida Southern College, she served as the director of Orchestra and Strings Studies at the University of Tampa. She is the recent recipient of the ASTA String grant, as well as the UT Alumni, Dana, and the David Delo Research Professor Grants. A finalist for the American Prize in Conducting, Dr. Omelchenko specializes in orchestral conducting, operatic conducting, and violin performance and instruction. She has conducted at several All-County Orchestra Festivals, as well as worked with Middle School and High School students at Orchestra Summer Music Camps at the University of Tampa and the University of Iowa. She is in great demand as a guest conductor, lecturer, clinician, and adjudicator. Dr. Omelchenko has served as the music director of St. Ambrose University Community Symphony Orchestra in Davenport. She was also the assistant conductor to opera production at the University of Iowa, the University of New Mexico, as well as the International Opera Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy. Dr. Omelchenko has also been a conducting fellow with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony and was the recipient of the 2012 Sigma Alpha Iota Conducting Scholarship.

International conducting fellowships include studies in Vienna, Rotterdam and Amsterdam conservatories in the Netherlands, and Bulgaria. As guest conductor, she has conducted at the Seasons Music Festival Orchestra in Yakima, Washington and with the Bulgarian State Opera in Burgas. A native of Kansas, Dr. Omelchenko holds a doctoral degree in music from the University of Iowa and degrees from the University of New Mexico and Knox College.

Among judges' comments: "good posture, clear beat, makes the big moments 'work.' Expects— and adjusts—to get what she wants."

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Congratulations!

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