$90,000 awarded to this year’s contestants;
Total awarded over 24 years now exceeds $1.3 million.
NEW YORK (May 10, 2022) — The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music announced the winners of the 24th annual Lotte Lenya Competition. The final round took place at Merkin Hall on May 6, the first time the Competition has been presented publicly before a New York City audience. Amanda Sheriff took home the First Prize of $20,000. Ruth Acheampong and Katrina Galka each claimed a $15,000 Second Prize, and Jeremy Weiss won the $10,000 Third Prize. Reflecting on Sheriff’s first-place performance, the judges enthused that “she did it all,” citing her “sensual, funny, and heartbreaking” realization of a program that showed her willingness to embrace “risky repertory and acting choices.” An edited version of the Finals will be streamed free and on-demand to audiences worldwide beginning Friday, May 13 at kwf.org/2022Finals.
Kim Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation and Founder of the Competition, praised this year’s winners, who “all triumphantly demonstrated with their idiomatic performances that they really could sing and act the diverse generic range of music theater.” Attending the Lenya Competition for the first time, incoming Director of the Vienna Volksoper Lotte de Beer appreciated the broader role of the Competition: “My first Lenya Competition finals have been a unique experience in the landscape of singing competitions. Encouraging artists to truly express themselves in all dimensions of music theater is not only heartwarming, but might be the only way to sustain this art form in the long run.”
Each finalist performed a continuous fifteen-minute program of four contrasting numbers, including a selection by Kurt Weill. The eminent jury for the Finals included Tony Award-winning Broadway and opera composer Jeanine Tesori, Tony Award-nominated Broadway and opera performer Phillip Boykin, and acclaimed stage director Robin Guarino.
As the judges deliberated, Tony Award winner Victoria Clark hosted a recital of performances by six past winners celebrating the continuing success of the Competition’s alumni. Appearing were prominent artists from the theatrical world including Andrew Polec (winner of 2017 Best West End Debut award for his starring role in Bat Out of Hell), Michael Maliakel (currently starring in the title role of Aladdin on Broadway), Kyle Lopez Barisich (more than 1,000 performances as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and on national tour), and Robert Ariza (the titular role of the Chicago company of Hamilton). From the opera world, Briana Elyse Hunter (Metropolitan Opera debut this season in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones) and Rebecca Jo Loeb (starred in the premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera p r i s m at LA Opera) each performed a selection.
The panel chose to award finalist Ronald Wilbur the second-ever Rebecca Luker Prize for his performance of “Night Song” from Golden Boy. The $4,000 Prize honors Luker, a six-time judge for the Competition who succumbed to ALS in December 2020, by recognizing an outstanding performance of a “Golden Age” selection. Each of the remaining finalists received $2,000: Eric Botto, Cierra Byrd, Francesca Mehrotra, Lauren Senden, Tristan Tournaud, Ian Williams.
The 2022 Competition drew 259 applicants from thirty-nine US states and twenty-one countries. In the semifinal round, 28 contestants auditioned either in-person or remotely and received immediate feedback and coaching. Victoria Clark and Drama Desk Award winner Lauren Worsham served as coach-judges for the semifinal round. The eleven finalists ranged in age from 21 to 32.