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2008 Lotte Lenya Competition Showcases Budding Stars

Eastman School of Music Hosts International Competition

Fifteen exceptionally talented young singing actors from the United States and Europe will compete for prizes of more than $25,000 in the finals of the 2008 Lotte Lenya Competition in Rochester, New York, on 12 April. Traveling to Rochester from as far away as Berlin and Helsinki, this year's finalists have an unusually wide range of performing experience: from opera to cabaret and avant-garde music, from the Off-Broadway stage to jazz and rock. Judges for this year's finals are equally diverse: Broadway star Victoria Clark, Tony Award-winning leading lady of The Light in the Piazza, also an esteemed director and teacher; Theodore S. Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and author of the book Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical "Follies"; and James Holmes, conductor of opera, American musicals, and concerts, including many Kurt Weill productions, in Great Britain and across Europe.

Chosen from more than 160 contestants at regional competitions and video submissions, each finalist will present a varied program, including an opera/operetta aria, an American musical theater number, and two contrasting Kurt Weill selections. The contestants are:

  • Tora Augestad, 28, mezzo-soprano (Berlin, Germany)
  • Diana Rose Becker, 22, soprano (East Northport, NY)
  • Candice Bondank, 23, soprano (Lawrence, KS)
  • John Brancy, 19, baritone (Mullica Hill, NJ)
  • Steven Ebel, 28, tenor (Astoria, NY)
  • Steven Herring, 32, baritone (New York, NY)
  • Lauren Jelencovich, 23, soprano (New York, NY)
  • Rebecca Jo Loeb, 25, mezzo-soprano (New York, NY)
  • Ashley Logan, 25, soprano (Princeton, NJ)
  • Ariela Morgenstern, 29, mezzo-soprano (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Margaret Peterson, 22, mezzo-soprano (New York, NY)
  • Elizabeth Reiter, 22, soprano (New York, NY)
  • Michael Scarcelle, bass-baritone (New York, NY)
  • Maija Skille, 30, mezzo-soprano (Helsinki, Finland)
  • Bray Wilkins, 27, tenor (Moscow, ID)

Previous winners of the Lenya Competition continue to light up major opera and musical theater stages, demonstrating their versatility. Elaine Alvarez (2003 prizewinner) made a critically acclaimed debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in fall 2007, portraying Mimì in La bohème; other prizewinners have appeared at the Metropolitan Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Past winners Richard Todd Adams, Amy Justman, and Erik Liberman have played roles in Broadway musicals, and Justman's performance in Company was broadcast nationwide this winter by PBS.

The day-long finals at Eastman School of Music's Kilbourn Hall offer the audience a chance to be on the spot when a new star is discovered. The first round, when each contestant will sing his/her full 13-minute program, runs from 11 a.m until 3:15 p.m. The evening concert featuring all finalists begins at 8 p.m., and winners will be announced immediately thereafter.

Contact: Carolyn Weber, Kurt Weill Foundation, 212.505.5240,