Friday, February 2, 2018

WINNERS: The American Prize in Voice: women in art song & oratorio, 2017-18, The Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Award, all divisions

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and citation recipients of The American Prize in Vocal Performance (women in art song and oratorio), 2017-18—The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award, in professional, college/university, community and high school divisions. Congratulations!

In an exceptionally competitive field of applicants, there were ties for several runners-up this year and two citation recipients. We wish all these TAP laureates great success in their future musical endeavors.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award honors the memory of the greatest Wagnerian baritone of his age, Friedrich Schorr, who commanded the operatic stage between the world wars, and his wife, Virginia Schorr, who taught studio voice at the Manhattan School of Music and the Hartt School of Music for nearly fifty years. The Prize recognizes and rewards the best performances by classically trained vocalists in America in 2017-18, based on submitted recordings.

The American Prize in Vocal Performance (women in art song & oratorio), 2017-18
The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award
(professional division)

The American Prize winner:
Kristina Bachrach   La Grange IL
Kristina Bachrach
Soprano Kristina Bachrach is emerging as a young artist confident in an extensive range of styles. In recent seasons she debuted with the New York Choral Society at St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Cecilia Chorus at Carnegie Hall. A frequent and beloved guest artist with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, she has performed nearly twenty concerts with them in music ranging from Schubert to Berg.

In recent seasons, Ms. Bachrach has fulfilled many prestigious artist residencies, including the Marlboro Music Festival,  Yellow Barn, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Banff Center, and the Lake George Music Festival. She enjoys a long-standing relationship with SongFest at Colburn, and has recorded songs of John Harbison for their premiere recording.

Kristina has performed leading and supporting roles with Gotham Chamber Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Naples, Lyric Opera of Virginia, Nashville Opera, and Thompson Street Opera Company. She is the winner of the Grand Prize from the inaugural Ziering Conlon Young Artist Competiton.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Michelle Areyzaga   Rolling Meadows IL
Michelle Areyzaga
Soprano MICHELLE AREYZAGA has a particular love for the art song and chamber music repertoire.  Known for her expressive singing, she has given world premiers of songs by American composers such as Gwyneth Walker, Lita Grier, Lee Hoiby, William Ferris, Wayland Rogers and many others.  She has sung several seasons with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York Festival of Song, the Avalon Quartet, and The Chicago Ensemble.  She has been honored by the Julian Autrey Song Foundation and was named Chicago Artist of the Year by Pioneer Press.  She has appeared in leading roles with New York City Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, among others, and she has appeared with orchestras across the United States and abroad including Minnesota Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, the National Symphonies of Uruguay and Costa Rica, Colorado Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Philharmonia Orchestra of New York.  Please visit

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Stacey Mastrian   Seattle WA
Stacey Mastrian
Stacey Mastrian, a "sweet, shimmering soprano" (Washington Post) with “intensity, focus, and a warm, passionate sound” (New York Times), is a Fulbright Grantee and Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient.  She has performed at the Konzerthaus (Berlin), Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Teatro La Fenice, and at Carnegie Hall with the Chamber Orchestra of New York as winner of The Respighi Prize.  She has sung countless recitals across AZ, CA, DC, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, MN, NC, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, VA, VT, WA, Berlin, Latina, Montréal, Rome, and Venice, and has been heard on Georgian National Radio singing Shostakovich songs.  Ms. Mastrian has been a scholarship recipient to SongFest and the winner of competitions such as the International Traxel Society and Vocal Arts DC Discovery Series.  She specializes in 20th century Italian vocal music.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Thea Lobo   Medford MA
Thea Lobo
Hailed as "excellent", "impeccable", "limpidly beautiful", and "stunning", Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo has recently performed with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Guerilla Opera, EnsembleNewSRQ, Emmanuel Music, and Sunshine City Opera. Ms. Lobo has appeared under conductors Gunther Schuller, Joshua Rifkin, Helmut Rilling, and Andris Nelsons, and has been featured by the Carmel Bach Festival, Handel + Haydn Society, The Bermuda Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, and Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart. Her dedication to new music, art song, and early music has seen her featured on True Concord's Grammy winning recording of Stephen Paulus's 'Prayers & Remembrances', invited to the Carmel Bach Festival as an Adams Fellow, a prizewinner at the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers, a grant recipient of the Julian Autrey Song Foundation, a featured recitalist for the Boston Portuguese Festival, and performing as a soloist under the direction of composers Steve Reich, Christian Wolff, Louis Andriessen, and many others.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Elisabeth Marshall   Portland ME
Elisabeth Marshall
Elisabeth Marshall was hailed by OPERA NEWS for her recording of James’ Kallembach’s Four Romantic Songs on Brooklyn Art Song Society’s 2015 album “New Voices”, and is a 2017 recipient of a Professional Fellowship to SongFest in Los Angeles, collaborating with Libby Larsen, among others. Solo engagements include Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and B minor Mass, Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Requiem, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Choral Fantasia with ensembles such as the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Portland and Bangor (ME) Symphony Orchestras, the Oregon Bach Festival, and Rochester Cathedral (England). Opera roles include Frasquita (Carmen), Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Elisetta  (Il matrimonio segreto), and Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro). Ensembles include the Lorelei Ensemble, Handel & Haydn Society, Wexford Festival Opera, London Philharmonia Chorus, Carmel Bach Festival, Festivalensemble Stuttgart, with conductors such as Helmuth Rilling, Masaaki Suzuki, and Leonard Slatkin.

Finalist: Special Judges' Citation: "Excellence in American Contemporary Vocal Music"
Ann Moss   Richmond CA
Ann Moss
Soprano Ann Moss is an acclaimed recording artist and champion of contemporary vocal music whose voice has been singled out for “beautifully pure floated high notes” (Opera News), “powerful expression” and “luminous tone” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Her albums Love Life (Angels Share Records 2016) and Currents (ASR 2013), produced and recorded by multi-GRAMMY® award winner Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound, feature premiere recordings of works by composers including Jake Heggie, John Thow and Liam Wade. She can also be heard on PARMA, Naxos, Albany, Navona and Jaded Ibis Productions labels. As co-founder and Artistic Director of new-music repertory group CMASH, Moss has has been personally responsible for the creation of over ninety works for solo voice. A native of Boston, she has lectured on composition and interpretation of contemporary song at institutions including MIT, NYU/Tisch, Longy School of Music, UC Davis, UofH Morse School and San Francisco Conservatory.

Special Judges' Citation: "Excellence in Scandinavian Art Song"
Anna Hersey  Minnetonka MN
Anna Hersey
Hailed by critics as a “force of nature,” soprano Anna Hersey is a noted expert on Scandinavian vocal literature and diction. Dr. Hersey was a Fulbright Scholar at the Kungliga Musikhögskolan in Stockholm, and conducted research at Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium, thanks to a post-doctoral fellowship from the American Scandinavian Foundation. She has presented her research on Scandinavian song at the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the University of Copenhagen Center for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, the International Congress of Voice Teachers, and the Yale Conference on Baltic and Scandinavian Studies. Dr. Hersey’s articles have been published in the Journal of Singing, VOICEPrints, and The Opera Journal. Carnegie Hall. Her first book, Scandinavian Art Song: A Guide to Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish Diction and Repertoire was released by Rowman & Littlefield in September 2016. She is the newly-appointed Assistant Professor of Voice at The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

The American Prize in Vocal Performance (women in art song & oratorio), 2017-18
The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award
(college/university division)

The American Prize winner:
Lauren Elizabeth Walker   Bloomington IN
Lauren Elizabeth Walker
Lauren Walker is a mezzo-soprano from Bloomington, IN. She holds a BM in vocal performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (2011) and an MM in vocal performance from Ball State University (2014). Lauren has been a finalist in numerous regional and national vocal competitions, including NATSAA, the Orpheus Vocal Competition, and the NY Lyric Opera Competition. She has been a featured soloist with the IUJSoM University Singers, the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the Marion Philharmonic orchestras. Her prominent opera theater roles include Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Carmen in the Bizet/Brook La Tragédie de Carmen, and Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther. Lauren is currently pursuing her Doctor of Arts degree in vocal performance with a graduate assistantship at Ball State University under Dr. Mei Zhong. She also serves as adjunct voice faculty at Taylor University in Upland, IN.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Sarah Cooper   Lincoln MA
Sarah Cooper
Sarah Cooper, soprano, recently earned her master’s degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at Westminster Choir College. From Lincoln, Massachusetts, Sarah completed her bachelor's degree in French at Princeton University, where she began her vocal studies with Rochelle Ellis and soloed with the Princeton University Glee Club. Now a student of Sharon Sweet, [Professor Sweet did not participate in the ranking or evaluation of this contestant.—DK], Sarah was a first-place winner in the 2016 Coeur d'Alene Symphony Young Artists Competition and the 2016 Westminster Choir College Voice Awards Competition. In January 2017, she performed her first mainstage role as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Westminster CoOPERAtive program. Sarah also received the 2017 Colleen and Edward Carducci Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in Columbia, South Carolina. This summer, she will perform the role of Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with the Martina Arroyo Prelude to Performance Program in New York City.

2nd Place (there was a tie):  
Hailey McAvoy   Natick MA
Hailey McAvoy
Mezzo Soprano Hailey McAvoy is currently a senior at the Eastman School of Music, where she is pursuing a double major in vocal performance and musical arts. At Eastman, Hailey has performed on both the opera and concert stage, singing the roles of Zosha (Out of Darkenss, Heggie), Mrs. Soames (Our Town), The Abbess (Suor Angelica), Mother Superior (Mese Mariano), and The 6th Spirit (Cendrillon). In addition to opera, Hailey has appeared as a soloist in Haydn's Theresienmesse, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Berio's O King, Danyew’s Alcott Songs, and several premieres in collaboration with Eastman’s composition department. As a young recitalist, Hailey particularly loves German and American art song, and is working to champion the music of little-known American composer Hub Miller, whose songs she is studying extensively at Eastman. Outside of singing, Hailey loves philosophy, poetry, and nature walks. 

3rd Place (there was a tie): 
Clare Demer   Tucson AZ
Clare Demer
Italian-American Soprano Clare Demer is completing her undergraduate degree at The University of Arizona, where she has performed L’Enfant in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortileges, Monica in Menotti’s The Medium, and Second Lady in the Magic Flute. She has received training from the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and was a fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Festival Art of Song program. Among her awards are two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Arizona, 1st prize in both the undergraduate and graduate divisions of the Amelia Rieman Opera Competition, and 1st  prize in the Mari Nixon International Voice competition. She has twice won 2nd place in The American Prize Art Song Competition at the College/University level. This summer she will compete as a finalist in the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition.

3rd Place (there was a tie):  
Rachel Eve Holmes   Athens GA
Rachel Eve Holmes
Rachel Eve Holmes is a young soprano, recently described as, "expressive and subtle, with a stunning instrument." Rachel Eve has performed with Opera Lancaster, The Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Opera Fort Collins, Capitol City Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Intermezzo Festival, Opera for the Young, La Musica Lirica, Loveland Opera Theatre, Fort Collins Symphony, Fresco Opera Theatre, Four Seasons Theatre, Children’s Theater of Madison, The Ralph Opera Center, The University of Georgia Symphony, and The New England Conservatory Opera Studio.

Holmes is the winner of the 2017 Ruth Kern Concerto Competition, the 2016 American Fine Arts Festival Romantic Music International Competition, the 2016 University of Georgia Concerto Competition, the 2016 Atlanta Music Clubs Competition, the 2015 American Protégé International Vocal Competition, the 2015 Roschel Vocal Competition, 2015 Schubert Club Competition, the 2014 Kenwood Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the 2012 WPR Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition, the 2011 Carnegie Hall Weill Hall Young Musicians Concert Competition, and the 2009-2012 Schuyler Grant for Career Bridges, NYC. 

The American Prize in Vocal Performance (women in art song & oratorio), 2017-18
The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award
(community division)

The American Prize winner:
Deborah M. Connelly   Stratford CT
Deborah M. Connelly
A native of Stratford, Connecticut, Deborah Michele has pursued her passion for classical singing for 12 years.  In 2011, she won the American Fine Arts Festival’s Golden Voices competition in the adult, classical category.   Since then, she has sung numerous comedic roles with Trouper’s Light Opera including Giselle in The Red Mill, Celia in Iolanthe, Mrs. Partlet in The Sorcerer, and Daphne in Thespis.   Over the summer she played Ida in Taconic Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus, and singer #2 and chorus woman #2/3 in the world premiere opera In Bocca al Lupo also with Taconic Opera.  In addition, she made her dramatic acting debut as Madame de Volanges in a staged reading of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.   Most recently she was a soloist in a Christmas benefit for Calvary St. George Episcopal church in Bridgeport, CT.  She is humbled and gratified to be a winner of The American Prize competition.

2nd Place:
Samantha Isabell Gay   Oak Park IL
Samantha Isabell Gay
Ms. Gay has been an active musician for nineteen years. She began with ‘by ear’ piano at age 7; she studied formally with beloved teacher Virginia K. Folgers between 2001 and 2012. Ms. Gay joined the St. Edmund School children's choir in 1999, singing and playing liturgical bells until 2004. In 2006, she began more focused chamber choir studies at Trinity High School, earning two solos and a spot with the school's 6-girl ensemble, 'Le Ragazze'. Ms. Gay then attended Brown University, where she made the University Choir and sang as an alto until graduation. At Brown, she also studied with choral director Louis Frederick Jodry V, earning two aria features in her senior year. Ms. Gay has studied with Christine Steyer since 2013, and she has returned to St. Edmund’s as a volunteer Cantor. Professionally, Ms. Gay works as an immigration paralegal, and will attend graduate school this fall.

3rd Place:
Shana Evans Bassett   Atlanta GA
Shana Evans Bassett
Atlanta-based Mezzo Soprano Shana Evans Bassett has recently made a return to vocal performance after several years away from music.  A member and featured soloist with the noted women's a capella group Noteworthy at the University of Georgia from 1997-1999, she spent several years working in education and raising a family before returning to her vocal studies in 2016.  Ms. Bassett is a student of the well-known voice instructor Sharon Forrester-Stephenson and is a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.  Additionally, she is a section leader and featured soloist at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta and a Staff Cantor at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church.  Ms. Bassett continues to pursue professional and volunteer opportunities as a vocalist in opera and on the concert stage, and is excited to see where her budding career in music will lead. 

The American Prize in Vocal Performance (women in art song & oratorio), 2017-18
The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award
(high school division)

The American Prize winner:
Amalia Crevani   Milford NJ
Amalia Crevani
Amalia studies voice at the Juilliard Pre-College Program with Lorraine Nubar. This year Amalia was the 1st Place Winner for New York Lyric Opera Theatre National Vocal Competition (performance Broadway Symphony Space) and received the Paper Mill Playhouse nomination for “Outstanding Performance as an Actress in a Leading Role” for 9 to 5: The Musical (Judy Bernly). Earlier, she won 3rd place winner at the Schmidt Vocal Competition and 1st place in the International Great Composer Competition for Rossini.  Last year Amalia placed 1st in the 2016 Rondo Vanguard Competition (Performance Carnegie Hall) and was a Merit Winner for Young Arts. At 15, Amalia won 1st place for the Hal Leonard National Vocal Competition (Music Theatre) and received the “Paper Mill Playhouse Outstanding Performance as an Actress in a Leading Role” (Anything Goes- Reno Sweeney- Honorable Mention). Amalia has performed with the Hunterdon Symphony, in local operas and community theatre, and as a National Anthem singer. Her training has included many summer vocal programs the most recent being the Academie Internationale d’Ete de Nice, France, where she studied with Lorraine Nubar and Dalton Baldwin.  Amalia also studies piano, composition, acting, and dance.

2nd Place:
Mary Elizabeth Adler   Bellevue WA
Mary Elizabeth Adler
Mary Elizabeth Adler, soprano, is a junior in high school in Bellevue, Washington.  She has been studying classical voice under Nancy Zylstra for over six years.  She has won numerous awards in classical vocal competitions locally, at the state level, and nationally including: The Schmidt Competition, Hal Leonard, The Performing Arts Festival of the Eastside, and Musicfest Northwest. In 2016, she won the "Special Career Encouragement Citation" from The American Prize. She sings in St. James Cathedral Young Women's Choir also serving as a Cantor as well as the Seattle Opera's STUDIO Program.  She is a cellist, performing in her high school's top orchestra.  She is the Captain of her Varsity Badminton Team, and President of the Biology Club.  She recently won 1st Place in the Central Sound Regional Science and Engineering Fair (Animal and Plants category) with her research in, "Investigating the Relationship Between Local Bird Syrinx Structure and Their Phylogenetic Status Using Cladogram Analysis."  She will be taking her project to compete at the State Competition.

3rd Place
Alexandra Taylor   Naples FL
Alexandra Taylor
Alexandra Taylor, soprano, is from Naples, Florida. She has taken voice lessons since she was fifteen and has won numerous local and national competitions.  Alexandra has performed with Opera Naples since she was twelve years old and has sung in the chorus in the following productions: Carmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Boheme, Pirates of Penzance, Il Pagliacci, Rudigore, Patience, Tosca, HMS Pinafore, The Magic Flute, and Turandot. She has also performed as a soloist in many of the Opera Naples concerts. She won First Place in the 2016 Tampa Bay NATS competition in the classical high school division. She was a Naples Music Club scholarship competition winner in 2015 and 2016, a first place winner in the Calusa Musicale Clara Blood Award Auditions in 2016, and was also a scholarship recipient of the Ruth DeMaster Scholarship through the Fort Myers Mastersingers. Alexandra was the first place winner in the American Prize Competition in the 2016 High School Opera/Operetta division. She earned an Encouragement Award in the 2017 Schmidt Competition and was a semifinalist in the 2017 Hal Leonard Vocal Competition. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and her high school’s Key Club and Drama Club. She has passed the pre-screening rounds of numerous prestigious conservatories.  She was invited to audition at The Juilliard School, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes School of Music.  


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