Thursday, April 18, 2019

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

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, runners-up, honorable mentions and citation recipient of The American Prize in Vocal Performance—women in art song, 2018-19—The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards. Congratulations!

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: theamericanprize@gmail.com

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—women in art song (professional division),  2018-19, The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards

The American Prize winner:
Emily Yocum Black
Paducah KY   

Emily Yocum Black
Described as “bright-toned and vividly alluring” and a “sleek and glistening vocal talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), American soprano Emily Yocum Black is quickly emerging as a versatile and accomplished performer of varying genres of music including oratorio, art song, opera and musical theatre. She has performed concerts and major works with the Louisville Orchestra, Spire Chamber Ensemble, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, and Bourbon Baroque. She was the Silver Medal Winner of the 2019 American Traditions Vocal Competition and is a 2019 Artist with the Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs. Emily is an alumnus of the American Bach Soloists Academy, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and SongFest. Opera roles include Iris (Semele), Laurie (The Tender Land), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), and Laetitia (The Old Maid and the Thief). Emily graduated from the University of Louisville School of Music and her teachers are Emily Albrink Katz and Edith Davis Tidwell. Emily currently resides in Paducah, Kentucky with her husband Fowler, where she enjoys teaching private voice when she isn’t traveling. www.emilyyocumblack.com


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Emily Sternfeld-Dunn
Wichita KS 

Emily Sternfeld-Dunn
Emily Sternfeld-Dunn, soprano, is a strong advocate for new music and unconventional performances of art song and opera. Ms. Sternfeld-Dunn regularly gives recitals across the country featuring works of contemporary American composers. She has performed as a soloist with the Mid Columbia Symphony, Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Choral Society, Opera Kansas, Connecticut Concert Opera, Hartford Opera Theater, the Idaho Washington Symphony, and the Palouse Choral Society. As an educator Ms. Sternfeld-Dunn has been on faculty teaching voice at Southwestern College, Washington State University and Wichita State University while maintaining a private studio. Ms. Sternfeld-Dunn holds degrees from California State University, Hayward, Washington State University, Pullman, and The Hartt School. Further education includes successful completion of a Certificate of Figure Proficiency in Estill Vocal Training. Ms. Sternfeld-Dunn's debut album SHE was released in April 2018, featuring song cycles by Jake Heggie and Ricky Ian Gordon. www.emilysternfelddunn.com


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Dana Lynne Varga
Brighton MA

Dana Lynne Varga
Praised for her "stunning voice,” soprano DANA LYNNE VARGA placed first in the 2016 Classical Singer National Vocal Competition. Her numerous operatic roles performed include Musetta in La Bohème, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Micaëla in Carmen and Alcina in Alcina. She has performed with such companies as Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, PORTopera, Caramoor and the Britten-Pears Festival. An avid concert soloist, Ms. Varga’s recent concert and oratorio performances include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Cantata Singers, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor with Coro Allegro, Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Commonwealth Chorale, Fauré's Requiem with the Springfield Symphony and Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale/Orchestra. Other highlights include Beethoven’s Mass in C at Tanglewood, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Brahms’ Requiem with the Metropolitan Chorale and Handel’s Messiah with the New England Classical Singers. For more information, visit www.danavarga.com.

3rd Place:
Katherine Beck
Denver CO   

Katherine Beck
Applauded for her “Frederica von Stade-like shimmer” and “florid musicality,” mezzo soprano Katherine Beck has been recognized for her unique sound and honest performances throughout the US. Beck recently won Third Place in the Met National Council’s Western Region and sang the role of Lisette in the world premiere of Gerald Cohen’s Steal a pencil for me at Opera Colorado. This summer, Beck returns to the Tanglewood Music Center as a Vocal Arts fellow in art song and chamber music, a short drive away from her hometown of Bennington, Vermont. A versatile performer, Beck made her debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra last year at Tanglewood and Symphony Hall in Boston alongside Tony-winning artists in Lapine’s Sondheim on Sondheim. This coming 2018-2019 season, Beck will be in residence with Arizona Opera to perform roles which include Flora in La Traviata, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Melanie Helton
East Lansing MI

Melanie Helton
Melanie Helton is professor of voice (soprano) and director of the MSU Opera Theatre. She has been hailed by The New York Times for her "dark soprano that warms the ear." She sang Marietta/Marie in Korngold's Die Tote Stadt at the Brisbane (Australia) Biennial. and the title roles in Lucrezia Borgia at the Caramoor International Music Festival and Aida with Opera Carolina, as well as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Caramoor, Opera Carolina, and Lake George Opera Festival. Other engagements included Alice Ford in Falstaff at New York City Opera, Maddalena in Andréa Chénier, Elsa in Lohengrin, and Leonora in Il Trovatore for Seattle Opera, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for New York City Opera, and the title role in Norma for Teatro de Colon, Bogotà. In addition, she has sung leading roles with the Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Washington Opera, Central City Opera and San Francisco Opera Center.

“and flowers pick themselves” is an orchestral song cycle by Ricky Ian Gordon commissioned by MSU for her. She subsequently recorded the cycle plus 14 songs with piano, with the composer at the piano. That recording, "and flowers pick themselves," is available on Blue Griffin Recording and was named one of American Record Guide's "Best of 2008." Her newest recording with MSU faculty colleague Derek Polischuk is entitled “Anxiety Attack: Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Kahane’s Craigslistlieder,” also on Blue Griffin Recording.

The soprano earned a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Indiana University, and a Master of Music with honors from the University of Houston.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Alice Anne Light
Kansas City MO

Alice Anne Light
Praised by Opera Today for her “sumptuous mezzo . . . beautifully even tone, a very wide range, and a sound technique,” mezzo-soprano Alice-Anne Light possesses a versatile and colorful voice that has led her to success in opera, musical theatre, art song, oratorio, and concert repertoire.  An active recitalist, Alice Anne champions new works by young American composers. Recent operatic apperances include leading roles and covers with Utah Festival Opera, Central City Opera, Opera in the Rock, and Bar Harbor Music Festival.  Dr. Light holds degrees from Harding University, University of Mississippi, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and maintains a busy performing schedule throughout the country.  In the fall of 2018, she will join the voice faculty at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.


The American Prize in Vocal Performance—women in art song (college/university division),  2018-19, The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards

The American Prize winner:
(There was a tie for first place this year)
Alyce Daubenspeck
Nazareth PA

Alyce Daubenspeck
ALYCE DAUBENSPECK is a classically-trained mezzo-soprano whose public performances have been described as "emotionally shattering" with a voice "fully formed from top to bottom, a pristine tone, and high notes that are both extraordinarily controlled and on the edge of wildness."

Ms. Daubenspeck has most recently performed with Opera in the Ozarks (2018), Westminster Opera Theater (2016 – 2017), the Princeton Festival (2016) and the Russian Opera workshop (2016). She has also participated as a Fellow in the CoOPERAtive program (2016), as an artist apprentice with Opera Ithaca (2015-2016) and as a young artist with the Si Parla, Si Canta program (2014). Ms. Daubenspeck has also sung with the Princeton Society of Musical Amateurs, and in Westminster’s Lindsey Christiansen Art Song Festival – both in 2017 and 2018. Ms. Daubenspeck’s past roles have included Augusta Tabor (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia) Madame de Croissy (Dialogues des Carmélites), Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Lyubov (Mazepa), Kecal (Bartered Bride), La Tasse Chinoise (L’enfant et les sortilèges) and Virginia (Billy Blythe).

In 2019, Ms. Daubenspeck has placed first in the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions in South Carolina, and was also selected as the winner of The American Prize in Vocal Performance—The Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2018-19, in the college/university art song division. Her upcoming engagements include the Brahms Alto Rhapsody with the Moravian College Choir and Festival Orchestra, and Hänsel und Gretel with Opera Steamboat, where she will perform the Witch.

Ms. Daubenspeck studies privately in the studio of the distinguished dramatic soprano Sharon Sweet. (Prof. Sweet did not participate in the evaluation.—DK) She graduated with distinction from Westminster Choir College in 2018 with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy.

   
The American Prize winner:
(There was a tie for first place this year)
Theodora Ivanova Nestorova
Acton MA 

Theodora Ivanova Nestorova
Bulgarian-British-American soprano Theodora Ivanova Nestorova is the 2018-2019 Fulbright Study/Research Grant Recipient to Vienna, Austria where she is pursuing the MA Lied & Oratorium program at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (mdw) and conducting vocal pedagogy research. Theodora graduated with a B.M. (Voice Performance & minor in Musicology) from Oberlin College & Conservatory in May 2018 and won third place in the 2017-2018 American Prize Opera/Operetta College Division. An avid concert soloist and recitalist, Theodora has performed early to contemporary music in both Europe and the United States. Highlights include: a world premiere of Eastern European works (Bulgarian National Radio), “Bibliosphäre: Die Kugel der Zeit” Project (Wien Modern Festival), The Bach Institute (Emmanuel Music), and tours with the Oberlin Sinfonietta (Bang on a Can 30th Anniversary Concert) as well as with the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble. Theodora’s recent & upcoming operatic credits include: Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel), Clorinda (La Cenerentola), Noémie (Cendrillon), Oberto (Alcina), and Amore (L’incoronazione di Poppea).

2nd Place: 
Shaina Martinez
Germantown MD 

Shaina Martinez
Shaina Martinez, soprano, recently graduated with her Masters degree from Manhattan School of Music studying with Ruth Golden. She most recently performed the title role in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Lighthouse Opera Company. Other roles include: Cosi fan tutte (Fiordiligi) in Manhattan School of Music’s Opera Repertory Ensemble; Der Zigeunerbaron (Saffi) with Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater; Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) in the Lighthouse Opera Company; La Vida Breve (Salud) with The In Series; La Fille du Regiment (Marie/audit) and Madama Butterfly (Cousin) at the Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance 2015; Henry Mollicone’s Children of the Sun (Our Lady of Guadalupe) with the Little Patuxient Opera Institute 2014; and Die Zauberflöte (2nd lady) and Cendrillon (Prince Charming/cover) at the Siena Music Festival 2013.

As a concert artist, Martinez recently performed Joaquin Turina’s Poema en forma de canciones with the MSM Philharmonia, under the baton of Perry So. She made her recital debut at the National Opera Center of America this past May where she performed with former Met coach, Craig Rutenberg as part of the Emerging Artist Recital Series. She also performed at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul as a soloist with the University of Maryland Chamber Singers. Most recently, she won 1st place in the Talents of the World International Competition 2018, won 3rd place in the XXI Concurso Internacional de Canto Lirico in Trujillo, Peru; won 2nd place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Rocky Mountain Regional Round 2018, won 1st place in Manhattan School of Music’s 2018 Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition in the Voice Category, and won 3rd place in the 2018 Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades competition.

Other awards include: 2018 DC Vocal Arts Society Art Song Discovery Competition (Finalist-Alternate), 2018 Lyra New York Mozart Competition (Semifinalist), 2017 Altamura Caruso International Competition (Finalist), 2014 Sue Goetz Ross Vocal Competition (2 nd place), XVII Concurso Internacional de Canto Lirico in Peru (Semifinalist), and 2018 Mario Lanza and Elaine Malbin Competition (Finalist). Upcoming engagements include her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in the Talents of the World Maria Callas Tribute concert as well as in their Christmas Ball Concert, also at Carnegie. She makes her theater debut in March 2019 with the Bermuda Festival, in their production of Terrence McNally’s Masterclass.


3rd Place (there was a tie):
Clare Demer
Tucson AZ

Clare Demer
Italian-American soprano Clare Demer is a Masters student at the University of Houston, where she has performed Maria in Nina Rota’s I due Timidi and in the world premiere of Robert Nelson’s The School for Scandal. She is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona, where she sang L’Enfant in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Monica in Menotti’s The Medium, and Zweite Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Clare has participated in several summer festivals including the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and the Aspen Summer Music Festival and School. This upcoming summer she will be an Apprentice Artist with Teatro Nuovo (formerly Caramoor). She is the recipient of many awards, including two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Arizona. She is a two-time finalist of the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition and has received numerous accolades from the American Prize foundation both for art song and opera performance.   

3rd Place (there was a tie): 
Victoria Lawal
Los Angeles CA  

Victoria Lawal
Nigerian-American soprano VICTORIA LAWAL is a recent graduate of Boston University, having studied under the tutelage of Ms. Penelope Bitzas. Her notable scene work includes Marzelline (Fidelio), La princesse (L’enfant et les sortilèges), and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). In 2016, She was recognized as a Fine Arts Scholar by the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. An alumna of the Songfest Young Artist Program, she enjoyed a summer working with Dr. Alan Louis Smith, Sanford Sylvan, and Libby Larsen, among others. A champion of new works, she presented the World Premiere of “I Stood Upon a Star”, a commissioned chamber work for Soprano, Piano, and Cello by Francis Snyder. Named the 2018 Soprano Young Artist, Ms. Lawal looks forward to spending her summer season at the Ad Astra Festival. This fall, she will begin her graduate studies in Vocal Arts at the Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles.


Special Judges' Citation: "Championing African-American Composers of Art Song"
Christine Jobson
Miramar FL  

Christine Jobson
Ms. Christine Jobson, a native of Miami, Fl, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Oakwood University and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Kentucky. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Miami. She has a particular interest in the preservation and dissemination of vocal music written by African American composers including Negro spirituals, anthems, art song, gospel, and hymns.

As a concert singer, Ms. Jobson has been featured in Spain, Bermuda, Portugal, the Bahamas, Austria, Russia and all over the United States. She has also been featured as a soprano soloist for the Delray Beach Chorale, the Hampton House Community Trust, and the South Florida Youth Orchestra.

Ms. Christine Jobson seeks to share love, peace, and joy with the world through music. www.christinejobson.com



The American Prize in Vocal Performance—women in art song (high school division),  2018-19, The Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards

The American Prize winner:
Alea Vernon
Cheshire CT

Alea Vernon
Alea Vernon, soprano, is a freshman at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she studies vocal performance under the tutelage Professor William McGraw. She is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School Pre-college; where she was a vocal performance major, and studied with Lorraine Nubar. Ms. Vernon was also an Ensign-Darling Fellowship at The Bushnell Theatre.

Alea has won and placed in several competitions and received numerous awards. Some accomplishments include being the first place winner of the 2017 Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, a 2019 National YoungArts finalist, the first place winner of the Rondo Young Artists Vanguard Competition, third place winner of The Boston Schmidt Vocal Competition, and a two time George London Scholarship Recipient.

Prior to beginning her undergraduate studies at CCM, Alea spent her summers attending summer programs such as the Casentino Voice Festival in Popi, Italy, New York Summer Music Festival, and The Boston University Tanglewood Institute. This past summer she attended The Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria under the tutelage of Lorraine Nubar, Dalton Baldwin, and Wolfgang Holzmair. This summer Alea will be singing with the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center.


2nd Place:
Pauline Rogers
Fremont CA

Pauline Rogers
Pauline Rogers is a Freshman at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA. She has been a vocal soloist ever since a public performance when she was 6 years old. Her current teachers include Fang Hong, a soprano, Eugene Brancoveanu, a baritone and a Tony award winner, and Hao Wu for piano.

She has performed in famous theaters across the globe, from Oscar Venue Dolby Theater, Los Angeles, Herbst Theater, San Francisco, and Carnegie Hall, New York, to grand churches in Vienna, Austria to The Watercube Stadium in Beijing, China.

*Silver Award Winner of 2014 Golden Key Festival, Performed in Carnegie Hall, New York.
*Best Vocal Ensemble Winners of MTAC 2014, 2015, and 2016 Silicon Valley Branch Competition. *Title winner of Golden State Junior Ambassadress at California State Youth Accolade scholarships competition in 2014.
*The first place winner in 2015 Silicon Valley Chinese Songs singing competition.
*The second place winner in Solo competition in MTAC 2016 Silicon Valley Competition.
*The Grand prize winner for the 2016 Watercube Chinese Songs singing Competition in San Francisco, represented the Northern California in the final singing competition in Beijing.
*The First Place Winner for  the 2017 San Francisco International New Concept Film Songs Competition.
*As a Team USA member, she performed in the 2017 World Championship for the Performing Arts in Long Beach, CA.
*She played double Bass in the Hopkins Advance Orchestra in 2016-2017, She played Cello in the El Camino Youth Orchestra from 2015-2016.


3rd Place:
Victoria Lourdes Whatley
Fairhope AL

Victoria Lourdes Whatley
Victoria Whatley (13) is a vocalist and violinist from Alabama. She also plays guitar, ukulele and piano. Her first vocal performance was during a 3rd grade talent show. She had planned a guitar solo but decided to add vocals at the last minute because she felt something was missing. She delivered a touching rendition of Amazing Grace and left all the judges in tears.  At the age of 11, she placed 3rd in a high school Steinway Society vocal competition which she entered because it was the youngest age bracket.  Victoria is the Concert Master for the Baldwin County Youth Orchestra and Chamber Group.  She also performs solo in festivals, concerts, and community events.  In 2017, she was elected to the All-State Festival by the Alabama Orchestra Association.  In 2018, Victoria performed a solo in Carnegie Hall and won the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Concerto Competition.
  

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Congratulations!

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