Saturday, November 9, 2019

WINNERS: The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award, 2019 (MESSIAH SOLOISTS)

The four individuals below have been selected to perform the solo roles in Handel's MESSIAH with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and CBA Chorus in St James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago, as winners of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award, 2019. Congratulations! The performance, Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 7:30 pm, will be under the direction of Maestro Stephen Blackwelder, director of the CBA Chorus.

The winners are:
Laura STRICKLING, soprano
St Thomas VI

Kara MORGAN, mezzo-soprano
Andover MN

Daniel O'HEARN, tenor
Tinley Park IL

Will HUGHES, baritone
Richardson TX

Purchase tickets here. (Substantial savings for advance purchase.)


St Thomas VI

First place winner of the inaugural American Prize in Vocal Performance (Opera, Professional Division, 2011) Laura Strickling was praised by The New York Times for her, "flexible voice, crystalline diction, and warm presence." She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center, National Sawdust, Trinity Church on Wall Street, Washington National Cathedral, Tanglewood Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Songfest at the Colburn School, Mexicoliederfest, Liederfest in Suzhou (China), and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. An acclaimed oratorio soloist, she has appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Asheville Symphony, Berkshire Choral International, and the Cathedral Choral Society. Ms. Strickling created the role of Fanni Radnòti in the World Premiere of Tom Cipullo's opera The Parting with Music of Remembrance. A devoted recitalist, she curated The NewMusicShelf Anthology for Soprano, and has appeared with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, Yellow Barn Music Festival, New Music Gathering, Lyric Fest of Philadelphia, and Trinity Concerts at One. Her discography includes her recording of James Matheson's Times Alone , Glen Roven's The Vineyard Songs, Jake Heggie's Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Tom Cipullo's Of a Certain Age. A Chicago native, Ms. Strickling is an avid traveler, having lived in Morocco, where she studied classical Arabic at the Arabic Language Institute of Fez, and Afghanistan, where her husband was the founding chair of the Department of Law at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. She currently makes her home in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands. For further information, visit

Andover MN

Kara Morgan is a mezzo soprano pursuing her passion to make a name for herself in the opera house and on the concert stage. This fall, Kara returned to Fargo-Moorhead Opera as Hansel in their production of Hansel and Gretel after making her company and role debuts earlier this year singing Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Mercédès (Carmen) as a Gate City Bank Young Artist. Kara spent her summer with the Lakes Area Music Festival covering the title role in their production of Offenbach's La belle Hélène and with Mill City Summer Opera covering Dorabella in Così fan tutte. Kara has sung lead roles with The Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company (Melissa, Princess Ida) and the College Light Opera Company (Mad Margaret, Ruddigore) and was heard as an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera in 2017. As a student, Kara realized the roles of Ottone (Agrippina), Angelina (La Cenerentola), the Old Prioress (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Mrs. Soames (Our Town), Katisha (The Mikado) and Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte) among others. A longtime lover of concert and choral repertoire, Kara made her debut with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota this November as a soloist in their performance of Duruflé's Requiem and Roger-Ducasse's Crux Fidelis. Kara is an alumna of Drake University (BM '14) and the New England Conservatory (MM '16). More information about Kara and her upcoming events can be found on her website at

Daniel O'HEARN
Tinley Park IL

Daniel O'Hearn is a tenor from Tinley Park, Illinois. He has most recently performed as Egisto in Francesco Cavalli's "L'Egisto," Captain Macheath in John Gay/Benjamin Britten's "The Beggar's Opera," and as Endymion in J.S. Bach's "Hunting Cantata." Within the last year, Daniel was the Casa Italia Vocal Scholarship Raimondi Scholar 2018, first place winner of the graduate division of the  Kleinman Vocal Competition 2019, and the first place winner of the Joseph P. Glimco Vocal Competition 2019. Daniel was the 2018 Musica nella Marche Angeli Scholar, and received a scholarship to sing, study opera, and learn the Italian language in Urbino, Florence, Verona, and Venice last summer. He is currently working on his master's degree in operatic vocal performance at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where he studies with the tenor on the school's faculty, Scott Ramsay. Daniel also performs the national anthem for the DePaul Blue Demons at sporting events throughout the school year. Outside of the world of public performance and academia, Daniel has been on the faculty at The House of Music in Orland Park, IL as a private voice instructor for over four years, where he teaches people of all ages from all over Chicagoland how to sing.

Richardson TX

Will Hughes, a Dallas, TX native, has recently performed and covered roles in La bohème (Schaunard), Doctor Atomic (Jack Hubbard), Ariadne auf Naxos (Harlequin), Madama Butterfly (Yamadori, Yakusidé), Les pêcheurs de perles (Zurga), The Consul (John Sorel), Così fan tutte (Guglielmo), and the title role in Billy Budd for The Santa Fe Opera, The Dallas Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. He has also performed scenes from Wuthering Heights (Heathcliff), A Street Scene (Henry), and the title role in Gianni Schicchi with The Santa Fe Opera and Iphigénie en Tauride (Oreste) and Sweeney Todd (Anthony) with Des Moines Metro Opera.

Will has recently sung the title role in a fully staged version of Elijah. His other concert work includes the baritone solos in the requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, and Fauré: the latter of which he sang under the baton of Maestro Rutter along with the baritone solo in the maestro's Mass of the Children. Will has also sung the role of Petrus in a partially staged version of Bach's Matthäus-Passion with the Philadelphia Symphony under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Will earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Wheaton College and Westminster Choir College respectively.

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