Friday, April 12, 2019

WINNERS, 2018-19: The American Prize in Vocal Performance (oratorio), The Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards

Schorr as Wotan, Bayreuth
The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, founder and chief judge, is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Vocal Performance (oratorio division), 2018-19—The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards. Congratulations! The ORATORIO division is a new award in 2018-19, different from the ART SONG/ORATORIO division, which will be announced separately. (NOTE: Maestro Katz did not participate in the final ranking in this division in 2018-19.)

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 2018-19, based on submitted recordings.

REMINDER: Because of many requests from artists with late spring and early summer performances, The American Prize 2019-20 will accept applications from CLASSICAL VOCALISTS, PIANISTS, CHAMBER ENSEMBLES and INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS postmarked or emailed by the new extended deadline date of Monday, July 1, 2019. Applications from COMPOSERS, CONDUCTORS, STAGE DIRECTORS, CONDUCTED ENSEMBLES, ARTS MARKETERS and in the performance of American Music (BACON AWARD) will be accepted until Monday, August 5, 2019. (Please note that although the dates on the application forms may not be changed, rest assured that your materials will be accepted if sent by the new deadline dates in the respective contest areas.)

The American Prize in Vocal Performance NEW: ORATORIO DIVISION, professional (women),  2018-19, The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards

The American Prize winner:
Penelope Shumate
Macomb IL  

Penelope Shumate
Praised by The New York Times for singing with “bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness,” and complimented by The New York Concert Review for “her sparkling coloratura perfection,” Penelope Shumate has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall as well as David Geffen Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. She has sung with opera companies and orchestras across America including Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Roanoke, Opera Saratoga, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Charlottesville Opera, Annapolis Opera, Opera on the James, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Oklahoma Philharmonic, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Heartland Festival Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, among others. She is an award winner with the Gerda Lissner Foundation, The American Prize, MacAllister Awards, Marie E. Crump Vocal Arts Competition, New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Vocal Competition, Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, among others. Visit

2nd Place:
Melissa Kornacki
Damascus MD 

Melissa Kornacki

Melissa Kornacki, American Mezzo-Soprano, is a “remarkably talented,” (DC Theater Scene) in- demand artist performing widely across the United States and abroad. Most recently, she was seen as a featured soloist in "Musicale: Andrew Simpson and Friends" at Dacor in DC where she sang the role of Lori from "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Ms. Kornacki made her Carnegie Hall debut as a Finalist in the 2017 Lyndon Woodside Competition for the Oratorio Society of New York. She is a Leopold Damrosch Award recipient. In 2016 she won First Prize in the Lyra New York International Vocal Competition for the Oratorio Division. Other recent appearances include a performance of the Peter Lieberson "Rilke Songs" at the Arts Club of Washington, and a chorus role at the Washington National Opera Gala featuring world renown artist, Renée Fleming.

Other 2015-2016 season highlights include a number of comedic roles starting with Ms. Benson in Delibes’s "Lakmé" first with Baltimore Concert Opera, and then later, Opera Delaware. Next Melissa took on the role of the famed chef Julia Child in Lee Hoiby’s "Bon Appétit" with Opera Delaware. Melissa coached with professional pastry chef, Michele Mitchell of the Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Delaware and together with the vision of director, Bud Martin, the stage was transformed into a live cooking show with real ingredients. Melissa then went on to portray Orlofsky in Strauss’s "Die Fledermaus" with Baltimore Concert Opera where she got to act alongside legendary actor, John Astin. Ms. Kornacki also performed her first Wagnerian role in "Götterdämmerung" with Union Avenue Opera. She gained positive reviews stating, “Melissa Kornacki makes her Waltraute fascinating nevertheless--beautifully sung with real depth of character” (Chuck Lavazzi, and that she “struck sparks in her scene with her love-besotted sister” (St. Louis Post).

Ms. Kornacki made her international debut in 2007 in the United Arab Emirates performing the roles of Dinah in Bernstein’s "Trouble in Tahiti," and Anita in Bernstein’s "West Side Story." Since then she has also shown a great interest in new works. She covered the role of Orfeo in a new adaptation by Five Words in a Line entitled, "Orfeo, Eurydice and The Serpent" that was performed at St. Mark’s Theater in New York. She then originated the dual role of Dr.Greene/Sage 2 in Kyle Gullings’s Opera "Oblivion" at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. Melissa is a graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University in New Jersey. She was an Emerging Artist with Opera New Jersey and an Outreach Apprentice with the Opera Theater of Northern Virginia. She was a 2014 New Jersey State Opera finalist.

3rd Place:
Nicole Van Every
Norman OK  

Nicole Van Every
Her voice hailed as providing a “stunning feast for the ears,” American soprano Nicole Van Every maintains a rigorous performance schedule across the globe. Her professional resume-to-date includes over 60 performances in operatic and solo concert repertoire. Her recent engagements include Hadyn’s Creation with the Haydn Conservatory Orchestra at the historic Esterhazy Palace, as the guest soloist for the 43rd annual Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, last August. She also sang Beethoven’s Mass in C for a nationally-broadcast performance at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. This summer, she will return as the festival’s invited soloist for the second time, singing Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Harmoniemesse. This past June, she appeared with several professional orchestras in Poland, including the Fiharmonia Gorzówska, singing Mozart’s Laudate dominum and Coronation Mass. This May, she will join in the Polish premiere of Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, inspired by the 1929 Carl Dreyer silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Other upcoming engagements include: Carmina Burana with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic/Canterbury Voices, and Brahms’ German Requiem with the Norman Philharmonic, both in April. She was a finalist at the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional competition in Kansas City, as well as the first-place winner of Classical Singer Magazine’s summer competition. Currently, she is a semifinalist for the prestigious American Prize in oratorio/art song performance. Visit her website at


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