|Brenda Lewis in "Die Fledermaus"|
The American Prize, and chief judge, David Katz, note with great sadness the death of the extraordinary American soprano, Brenda Lewis. Miss Lewis shared her name, friendship, enthusiasm and expertise with The American Prize vocal contests as Judge Emerita, and earlier served as an adjudicator for the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice international competitions.
David Katz and Brenda Lewis were friends and colleagues at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford during the 1980s. In 2001, when Katz moved the Schorr Prize (which he'd founded with Mrs. Friedrich Schorr's blessing ten years earlier) from Michigan back to Connecticut, he turned to Miss Lewis for her assistance. Then, as the Schorr contests became part of the newly-formed competition series known as The American Prize, Brenda Lewis gladly continued to provide her advice and enthusiastic support.
Maestro Katz remembers:
"She was a magnificent musician, and a no-nonsense judge. As an opera director, she did not suffer fools onstage or off; she always knew instinctively (and through a lifetime of experience) what "worked" and what didn't, and was never afraid to say so. She could be cutting and tough on people she thought were not giving their all to the art, but she could also be very warm and funny: the hours I spent with her at her home in Westport are among my happiest musical memories, especially when the conversation turned to her dear friend, composer Marc Blitzstein. Her stories of her years at the MET and the New York City Opera would sometimes come accompanied with gales of laughter. I learned early that underneath her crust she was loving and generous...as I have found most great artists I have known to be. I will miss her very much. Farewell, Brenda, and thank you."