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Press Releases from the Kurt Weill Foundation


Semifinalists Announced for the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition

Twenty-eight performers selected as semifinalists for Competition’s 20th anniversary year.

February 13, 2018: Kim H. Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation, has announced the semifinalists for the 2018 annual Lotte Lenya Competition, its twentieth anniversary year. The Foundation received 235 audition videos, from singer/actors ages 19-32, hailing from thirty-one U.S. states and Puerto Rico, and sixteen countries on five continents. From that pool, fourteen men and fourteen women from the U.S., Canada, Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, and Slovenia have been selected to perform at the semifinals at the Manhattan School of Music on 8 and 9 March.

Christine Amon (31, Michigan)
Carly Augenstein (28, Ohio)
Curtis Bannister (32, Wisconsin)
Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod (30, Israel)
Abigail Benke (24, Missouri)
Jason Berger (26, Delaware)
Daniel Berryman (27, New York)
John Brancy (29, Pennsylvania)
Maire Carmack (24, Colorado)
Caitlin Finnie (23, Texas)
Nkrumah Gatling (32, New York)
Richard Glöckner (23, Germany)
Anthony Heinemann (30, Missouri)
Caroline Hewitt (26, Texas)
Christian Hoff (24, Maryland)
Gabrielle Hondorp (20, New York)
Mark Hosseini (23, Illinois)
Barrie Kreinik (32, New York)
Andrea Lett (27, Manitoba)
Christof Messner (31, Italy)
Reilly Nelson (28, Ontario)
Benjamin Pattison (27, Virginia)
Laura Sanders (23, California)
Luke Sikora (29, California)
Philip Stoddard (26, Arizona)
John Tibbetts (27, Kansas)
Rachel Zatcoff (30, New York)
Andreja Zidaric (29, Slovenia)

This year's semifinals judges are stage, opera, and concert performer Lisa Vroman and Tony Award-winning theater and film composer Jeanine Tesori. Each contestant will perform a fifteen-minute program of repertoire from the operatic, golden age, and contemporary musical theater stages, and the music of Kurt Weill, and then receive a fifteen-minute coaching session with that day's judge. The top-rated performers will then proceed to the Competition finals, where they will sing for another star-studded jury comprised of Tony Award-winning actress and singer Victoria Clark, renowned opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Jack Viertel, Broadway producer, author, and Artistic Director of New York City Center Encores! Finals take place on 14 April at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and are open to the public. The evening concert will be live-streamed for free on-line viewing. Information about where and when to watch will be published closer to the date.

In addition to the semifinalists, seven contestants were recognized with Emerging Talent Awards of $500 each: Keenan Buckley, Emily Harkins, Marlene Jubelius, Sarah Jane Juliano, Claire Leyden, Grace Roberts, and Trevor Todd. Shannon Jennings received the Grace Keagy Award of $500 for Outstanding Vocal Promise. All semifinalists receive a cash award of $500. Those who advance to the finals will compete for top prizes of $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000, and individual discretionary awards of $3,500 and $5,000. All finalists will receive a minimum of $1,000. Total prizes will exceed $75,000.

Founded by Kowalke in 1998 to celebrate the centenary of Lotte Lenya's birth, the Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in wide ranging theatrical repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception, the LLC has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of "total-package performers" (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. The roster of prizewinners has likewise grown to over 100, many of whom have gone on to major performing careers.

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


Kurt Weill Foundation for Music Elects HK Gruber Honorary Lifetime Trustee

Honor bestowed in recognition of Gruber's career-spanning contributions to the performance and understanding of Weill’s music.

January 26, 2018: Kim H. Kowalke, President and CEO of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, is pleased to announce the election of composer and conductor HK Gruber as an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the charitable organization entrusted with Weill's legacy. The honor, given on the occasion of Gruber's 75th birthday, recognizes his unrivaled contributions over several decades to the performance and understanding of Weill's music and its ongoing impact on the composition of new music.

Gruber first encountered Weill's music in the 1970s via a recording of his symphonies; he recalls: "I discovered Weill when I was twenty, and step by step I developed great admiration for this unmistakable, many-sided composer and his musical and universal intelligence." When Gruber later signed with classical music publisher Boosey & Hawkes, he formed a close personal friendship with Weill expert David Drew, then its Head of Contemporary Music.

A consummate performer of Weill's music, both as conductor and vocalist, Gruber's affinity for Weill is evident in his own compositions. In its review of the world premiere of his Piano Concerto (2017), The New York Times noted, "Weill's ingenious merging of contemporary and cabaret styles remains a model for composers like Mr. Gruber." In a recent interview with TheArtsDesk.com, Gruber acknowledged the importance of Weill's influence on his own music, calling Weill and Hanns Eisler his two "forefathers," stating: "What I learnt from Eisler and Weill is how it is possible to simplify the musical language without losing the symphonic quality."

Kowalke said, "Gruber's performances and recordings as conductor and singer have set the gold standard for this repertory, and his championing of Weill's lesser-known works has introduced them to a new audience. His own oeuvre as a composer evinces the remarkable resonance Weill's music and esthetic still finds in a postmodern global musical landscape."

Gruber's landmark appearances as conductor of Weill's music include numerous iterations of Die sieben Todsünden, Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, Symphony No. 1, and Symphony No. 2 with ensembles around the world; countless performances of Die Dreigroschenoper, including the 2009 tour starring Angelika Kirchschlager and Ian Bostridge with Klangforum Wien, and a concert presentation with Ensemble Modern, Max Raabe, Ute Gfrerer, and Sona MacDonald at the 2015 Salzburg Festival; and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival. He performs frequently at the annual Kurt Weill Fest in Dessau, Germany. On 15 and 17 February, he leads the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in a performance of selections from Der Silbersee.

His recordings include the definitive Die Dreigroschenoper (Ensemble Modern, Nina Hagen, Max Raabe); Berlin im Licht (Ensemble Modern); and Charming Weill: Dance Band Arrangements with Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester. Two more recordings are forthcoming this year: Gruber reteamed with the Ensemble Modern for the premiere recordings of the critical edition of Mahagonny Songspiel and Chansons des quais, along with Kleine Dreigroschenmusik; and the forthcoming film Mackie Messer: Brechts Dreigroschenoper (Süddeutsche Rundfunk, 18 March 2018), featuring Gruber conducting portions of Die Dreigroschenoper on its soundtrack, of which the film's producers also plan a commercial CD release.

Responding to his election, Gruber said, "Now with this birthday present I have the pleasure to belong to the Weill family. I promise I will make the most of it!" Gruber joins a small but distinguished roster of honorary trustees, including Teresa Stratas, James Conlon, Stephen Davis, and Drew.

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Judges for the 20th Anniversary Lotte Lenya Competition Announced!

All-Star judges to preside over 20th anniversary international musical theater competition; top prizes of $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000; total prizes to exceed $75,000.

January 10, 2018: Kim H. Kowalke, President and CEO of the Kurt Weill Foundation, has announced the judges for the 20th Anniversary Lotte Lenya Competition. A distinguished panel will preside over the finals on 14 April in Rochester, NY: Tony Award-winning actress and singer Victoria Clark, renowned opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Jack Viertel, Broadway producer, author, and Artistic Director of New York City Center Encores!

Broadway, film, and television actress and director Clark returns as judge for the fourth time. Perhaps best known for her Tony-winning portrayal of Margaret in The Light in the Piazza, her recent work includes Sara Jane Moore in Assassins (City Center Encores! Off-Center), Tony nominations for her roles in Gigi, the Musical and Cinderella, and directing Newton's Cradle, for which she won the New York Musical Festival Best Director Award.

Holmes’s wide-ranging credits include work in major opera houses and theaters around the world, with a particular focus on the music of Weill. This season, he leads the German stage premiere of Weill's Love Life at Theater Freiburg, a production which stars two past Lenya Competition winners in the leading roles, Rebecca Jo Loeb (1st Prize, 2008) and David Arnsperger (2nd Prize, 2010). He previously held the posts of Head of Music at English National Opera and Opera North, where this season he is music director for Kiss Me, Kate! 2018 marks his sixth appearance as a Lenya judge.

At City Center, Viertel has overseen fifty-two productions, including Weill's Lost in the Stars and Blitzstein's Juno. Additionally, he is senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters on Broadway and the author of The Secret Life of the American Musical, published in 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This is his first time judging the Competition.

Semifinalists will audition for and be coached by stage, opera, and concert performer Lisa Vroman and Tony Award-winning theater and film composer Jeanine Tesori. Vroman is no stranger to the music of Kurt Weill, having performed Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera and Anna I in The Seven Deadly Sins; she is currently performing with the ongoing Music Unwound "Kurt Weill's America" project. She also sang the role of Birdie in Blitzstein's Regina at Utah Opera in 2009. Called "the most accomplished female composer in Broadway history," Tesori co-wrote the musical Fun Home, for which she and Lisa Kron won the Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2015. Other major credits include Caroline, or Change, Violet, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Shrek, the Musical. She is the founding artistic director of City Center Encores! Off-Center.

Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of "total-package performers" (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. The roster of prizewinners has likewise grown to over 100, many of whom have gone on to major performing careers. With top prizes of $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000, total prizes will exceed $75,000.

Semifinals take place on 8 & 9 March 2018 at Manhattan School of Music. Finals will be held on 14 April 2018 in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY. The daytime round and evening concert are both free and open to the public. The evening concert will be live-streamed for free online viewing. Information about where and when to watch will be published on www.kwf.org closer to the date.

The deadline to apply is 22 January 2018. The competition is open to singer/actors of all nationalities, ages 19-32 (born after April 15, 1985 and before January 21, 1999). For complete guidelines, tips, repertoire suggestions, and insights from previous winners, visit www.kwf.org/llc.

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


Sensational Discovery of Unknown Kurt Weill Song

A previously unknown song turns up in the archive at Freie Universität Berlin

 

October 31, 2017: In a remarkable find, a previously unknown composition by Kurt Weill was recently discovered in a Berlin archive. The three-page manuscript in the composer's hand bears the peculiar title "Lied vom weißen Käse" ("Song of the White Cheese," lyric by Günther Weisenborn). Weill composed it for his wife, the singer-actress Lotte Lenya, for performance in a political revue produced to benefit unemployed actors of the Berlin Volksbühne in November 1931. Other prominent contributors to this revue included Bertolt Brecht, Hanns Eisler, and Friedrich Hollaender. In the 1960s, Lenya made an attempt to find the song, which she remembered under the title "Song of the blind maiden." When her search yielded no results, she lamented the loss of the music: "Nowhere to be found. Probably buried in some basement." According to Foundation President Kim Kowalke, this vintage, politically engaged song dating from the apex of Weill's career in Germany, will soon be published and recorded.

"Although the discovery is small in terms of the song’s length, it is truly sensational," commented musicologist Elmar Juchem, Managing Editor of the Kurt Weill Edition, who was able to identify Weill's manuscript while conducting archival work in Berlin. "Nobody believed that something completely unknown by Weill could still surface, let alone from his Berlin heyday." Juchem came across the song in the archives of the department of theater studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. While examining documents related to Weill's music for the play Happy End (1929), he inquired whether the university held any other Weill-related materials. Archivist Peter Jammerthal pulled a number of programs, photos, and press clippings, and then retrieved the hitherto unidentified music manuscript. The neatly written holograph score resides among the papers of a relatively obscure actress named Gerda Schaefer, whose documents came to the Freie Universität several years ago. Schaefer was an ensemble member of the Volksbühne in the early 1930s.

The song, sung by the character of a blind girl, tells of an evangelical preacher's unsuccessful attempt to heal her with "white cheese." The lyric refers to Joseph Weißenberg (1855–1941), a well-known faith healer in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, whose preferred method of healing was "cottage cheese and two Our-Fathers." In the composition, Weill interpolates phrases from the popular Lutheran chorale "So nimm denn meine Hände" ("Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me"), to grotesque and comical effect. The song ends with the girl speculating that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if everybody were blind, so that nobody would have to see "what's currently going on in this world." At the time of the composition, the world had begun to feel the Great Depression and Germany's political situation had taken a sharp turn for the worse. A new series appearing on German cable TV (and soon to be released on Netflix), Babylon Berlin, depicts this very time in Germany's history. The show features Weill's music in at least one episode, including a reenactment of the original production of Die Dreigroschenoper from 1928. Then as now, Weill's music indelibly captures the sonic world of the Weimar period and remains an iconic representation of that era.

Chronologically speaking, the newly discovered song belongs to the phase of Weill's career when he had just concluded the composition of his grand opera Die Bürgschaft ("The Pledge"), which would receive its world premiere in Berlin in March 1932. At the same time, Weill was frantically preparing a production of his opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny for another Berlin stage in December 1931. In the years between 1927 and 1931, Weill composed incidental music for a number of productions written or staged by Lion Feuchtwanger, Bertolt Brecht, Arnolt Bronnen, and Erwin Piscator.

Image and audio files available for download
About Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill (1900-1950) is best known as the composer of The Threepenny Opera (1928). Following the rise of the Nazis, he emigrated to France in 1933, and then to the United States in 1935, where he made a career composing Broadway musicals, and was a key influence on the works of Leonard Bernstein, John Kander and Fred Ebb, and Stephen Sondheim.

A three-volume critical edition of one of his central works, Lady in the Dark (1940, book by Moss Hart, music and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Weill), will be published in November. On 9 December, the German-language premiere of Weill's Love Life (1948, book by Alan Jay Lerner, lyrics and music by Lerner and Weill) takes place at Theater Freiburg.

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Download press release (Deutsche Fassung)

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


2017 Kurt Weill Prizes Honor Kara Anne Gardner and Suzanne Robinson

$5,000 and $2,000 prizes awarded for outstanding book and article on music theater

 

October 3, 2017: The 2017 Kurt Weill Prize for an outstanding book in music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Agnes de Mille: Telling Stories in Broadway Dance, by Kara Anne Gardner, published in the Oxford University Press Broadway Legacy Series, 2016. Offering readers an in-depth study of de Mille's ground-breaking choreographic work on the Broadway stage, the book includes a chapter on her involvement in the original production of One Touch of Venus (1943), by S.J. Perelman (book), Ogden Nash (book and lyrics), and Weill (music), and which starred Mary Martin in the title role. Gardner demonstrates how Weill and de Mille's similar views about the use of music (for Weill) and dance (for de Mille) as a means of storytelling made them especially compatible as collaborators. Gardner writes of their interactions, "She also found Kurt Weill, who treated her like an equal, to be a perfect partner." Adjudicated by a panel of music and theater experts, the award carries with it a cash prize of $5,000. The panelists described Gardner’s work as "a model of musical theater scholarship," and "a very impressive and important book that forcefully establishes Agnes de Mille's unique importance in Broadway theatre."

The $2,000 prize for an article recognized "Popularization or Perversion?: Folklore and Folksong in Britten's Paul Bunyan" by Suzanne Robinson, published in American Music in 2016. The prize panelists selected Robinson's article from a pool of fifty-two nominees, noting that it "illuminates a really significant issue within an important and unusual work." Robinson is an honorary fellow at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

About the Kurt Weill Prizes

Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prizes recognize distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2015-2016 were eligible for the 2017 prize. Nominations were reviewed and the winning titles selected by a panel of music and theater experts. Past winners and guidelines for nominations for the 2019 prize can be found here.

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


Announcing the Winners of the 20th Annual Lotte Lenya Competition

Bradley Smoak wins top prize of $20,000; Felipe Bombonato wins $15,000 2nd Prize, and Paulina Villarreal wins $10,000 3rd Prize; eleven Special Awards of $3,000 each granted to remaining contestants; Most prizes and awards bestowed in competition history!

April 24, 2017: Bradley Smoak, 32, of Cary, NC, won First Prize in the 2017 Lotte Lenya Competition, sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. Smoak took home $20,000, the largest single prize amount given in the Competition's nineteen year history.

Felipe Bombonato, 28, of Gainesville, FL, earned Second Prize, $15,000, and Paulina Villarreal, 27, of Torreón, Mexico received Third Prize, $10,000. The remaining eleven contestants each garnered a Special Award in the amount of $3,000 in recognition of the excellence demonstrated by all finalists: Curtis Bannister, Green Bay, WI; Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod, Tel Aviv, Israel; Molly Dunn, South Orange, NJ; Jasmine Habersham, Macon, GA; Michael Hewitt, Denver, CO; Philip Kalmanovitch, Ottawa, ON; Tony Potts, Fargo, ND; Marie Oppert, Paris, France; Taylor Raven, Fayetteville, NC; Katherine Riddle, Crownsville, MD; and Lisa Marie Rogali, Bergenfield, NJ. Fourteen prizes and awards were granted, the most in competition history, an indication of the unprecedented level of talent showcased at this year's Competition.

Foundation President and CEO, and founder of the Competition, Kim H. Kowalke said of this year's finals, "The judges simply couldn't find a way to single out any of the eleven Special Award winners. Their scores were all so close. So they all deserved recognition."

The finals, held April 22 in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, consisted of a Daytime Round, during which each contestant performed a full fifteen-minute program of four selections ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary musical theater; and an Evening Concert, at which each contestant repeated one or two selections as requested by the judges. A capacity crowd had already filled Kilbourn Hall a half hour prior to the Evening Concert and an additional 200+ viewers tuned in to watch via livestream. The audience leaped to their feet when the finalists took the stage for the awards ceremony, and continued to applaud vociferously throughout the announcements of the three individual top prizes and eleven Special Awards.

Smoak impressed the judges with his "beautifully crafted program," consisting of "This is the Life" from Love Life by Weill, "Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni" from La sonnambula, "Higher Than a Hawk" from Calamity Jane, and "Me" from Beauty and the Beast. They noted his performances were "motivated by genuine emotion and ranged from strength to vulnerability to physical humor. His program took us to unexpected places and the repertoire took us from genre to genre, all with vocal ease and acting finesse."

Bombonato displayed "a special quality from the moment he entered, with a natural rhythm that made each of his four characterizations believable." He nailed Jimmy Mahoney's high C in "Nur die Nacht" from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny twice in one day, a feat rarely attempted, and even less frequently achieved. His program also included "Fanny" from Fanny, "I Am Adolpho" from The Drowsy Chaperone, which elicited much laughter from the audience, and "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca. "Bombonato is both a strong actor and a formidable singer," an apt depiction of what sets the Lenya Competition apart.

Villarreal captivated the judges and audience with a fiery zarzuela number, "Carceleras" from Las hijas del Zebedeo. She followed this with two Weill numbers, "One Life to Live" from Lady in the Dark and "Der Abschiedsbrief," and ended with "Maybe I Like it This Way" from The Wild Party. The judges admired her "courageous risk-taking" and "charisma to burn."

The group of fourteen finalists represented a diverse group of versatile performers hailing from eight states, as well as Mexico, Canada, France, and Israel, and fully spanning the boundaries of age eligibility from 19 to 32, including the youngest contestant ever to reach the finals, the 19-year-old Oppert.

The panel of judges included renowned stage director Anne Bogart, Tony and Olivier Award-winning actor Shuler Hensley, and Broadway music director Rob Berman. This year's preliminary round drew 266 audition videos (a 20% increase over the previous record) from contestants in 17 countries and 31 states. This pool was narrowed to thirty-two semifinalists, who auditioned live in March for judges Judy Blazer and Ted Sperling. Prior to the finals round, the eighteen non-advancing semifinalists received an award of $500 each. Following the preliminary round, six contestants were recognized with Emerging Talent Awards ($500), and one with the Grace Keagy Award for Outstanding Vocal Promise ($500), bringing the total awarded to $89,500.

International opera star Teresa Stratas, the Special Guest of Honor, made her eleventh appearance at the competition finals. Stratas charged the finalists with a mandate: "The Gift has chosen you. You don't have a choice. You are here because something compels you to get up and sing . . . . If you remember to connect to that pulse, you will always be the messengers of that light." Stratas, whose career defied conventional categories--she has earned awards for her work in opera, musical theater, film, and television--served as the inspiration for the Competition and has been integral to it since its inception in 1998, on the 100th anniversary of Lenya's birth. It remains the only competition she has ever agreed to judge.

Over the last nineteen years, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown from a small contest exclusively for students of the Eastman School of Music to one of the widest-reaching international singing competitions. Past prize winners have gone on to appear on major theater, opera, and concert stages around the world. This season, LLC laureates can be seen in seven Broadway shows, at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Komische Oper, Vienna State Opera, in concert with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, on national and international theatrical tours, and on two Grammy Award-winning recordings. To see why Opera News said of the competition, "[N]o vocal contest better targets today's total-package talents, unearthing up-and-coming singers who are ready for their close-ups," watch the winners' performances on YouTube.

Click on the image below for a printable image of the top three prizewinners:

2017 Lotte Lenya Competition top Prize winners
Caption: 2017 Lotte Lenya Competition top Prize winners (l to r): Paulina Villarreal (Third Prize), Felipe Bombonato (Second Prize), Bradley Smoak (First Prize). Photo: MattWittmeyer.com/Gabrielle Plucknette.

Click on the image below for a printable image of all finalists:

2017 Lenya Competition finalists
Caption: 2017 Lotte Lenya Competition finalists. Seated (l to r): Marie Oppert, Michael Hewitt, Molly Dunn, Felipe Bombonato, Jasmine Habersham. Standing (l to r): Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod, Taylor Raven, Katherine Riddle, Philip Kalmanovitch, Curtis Bannister, Tony Potts, Paulina Villarreal, Bradley Smoak, Lisa Marie Rogali. Photo: MattWittmeyer.com/Gabrielle Plucknette.

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


2017 Lotte Lenya Competition Finalists Announced

Fourteen young artists selected as finalists; director Anne Bogart, actor Shuler Hensley, and music director Rob Berman to adjudicate; Top prize increased to $20,000 to mark 20th annual competition.

Update (20 March 2017): The evening concert of the 2017 Lenya Competition finals will be streamed live direct from Kilbourn Hall in Rochester! The concert begins at 8:00 p.m. EDT on 22 April; point your browser to http://www.esm.rochester.edu/live/kilbourn before the concert to stream it (no password required).

March 14, 2017: The Kurt Weill Foundation is pleased to announce the fourteen young singer/actors named as finalists for the 20th annual Lotte Lenya Competition:

Curtis Bannister
Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod
Felipe Bombonato
Molly Dunn
Jasmine Habersham
Michael Hewitt
Philip Kalmanovitch
Marie Oppert
Tony Potts
Taylor Raven
Katherine Riddle
Lisa Rogali
Bradley Smoak
Paulina Villarreal

2017 Lotte Lenya Competition finalists

 

The contestants represent a diverse group of versatile performers, ranging in age from 19 to 32, from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, France, and Israel. An initial pool of 266 preliminary audition videos (the most applications ever received) was narrowed down to thirty-two semifinalists, who then auditioned live last week in New York City for judges Judy Blazer and Ted Sperling. Blazer and Sperling also coached each of the contestants individually.

Blazer said of her experience coaching the semifinalists: "Working with these singers is an enlightening and thrilling experience and whether they win the brass ring or not they all win in a sense for having done it. This particular competition has such a warm and supportive air to it that the artists feel safe enough to put themselves out there. They learn and grow from the opportunity and develop themselves as performers in a way that they couldn't in any other environment."

Kurt Weill Foundation President Kim H. Kowalke said of the 2017 competition, "This year's semifinals were more competitive than some of our finals in previous years; the judges in Rochester are going to have their work cut out for them, especially with the stakes increased this year to a top prize of $20,000."

At the finals, each contestant will sing a program of four selections from the operatic, "Golden Age," and contemporary musical theater repertoires, and of course, the music of Kurt Weill, to compete for prizes totaling over $75,000. In celebration of the 20th competition, and to match the ever-rising level of talent seen at the competition since its inception, top prizes have increased to $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000. Judges may also bestow additional discretionary awards of $3,500 each for outstanding performances of individual numbers. The new Kurt Weill Award for $5,000, established this year, will recognize an outstanding performance of two contrasting Weill selections. All finalists receive a minimum cash award of $1,000.

The finals take place Saturday, April 22 at Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Each finalist will present his or her entire program in the daytime round, 11:00-4:00. An evening concert, in which contestants sing only a portion of their programs, follows at 8:00. The concert concludes with the announcement of awards and prizes. Both the daytime round and evening concert are free and open to the public.

This year's judges' panel brings together three internationally recognized artists. Renowned stage director Anne Bogart brings diverse theatrical and operatic credits to the jury. In January 2017, she directed the highly acclaimed production of Lost in the Stars with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Tony Award-winning actor Shuler Hensley has demonstrated his versatility as an actor on Broadway in roles as wide-ranging as Pozzo in Waiting for Godot, The Monster in Young Frankenstein, and a Tony and Olivier Award-winning performance as Jud Fry in Oklahoma! Bogart and Hensley, both first-time judges, join veteran judge Rob Berman, who returns to the competition for a seventh time. Berman has been seen on Broadway most recently as music director for Bright Star and Dames at Sea; he is music director for the popular Encores! series at New York City Center.

Over the last twenty years, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown from a small contest exclusively for students of the Eastman School of Music, to one of the widest-reaching international vocal competitions. Past prize winners have gone on to appear on major theater, opera and concert stages around the world. This season, LLC laureates can be seen in seven Broadway shows, at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Komische Oper, in concert with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, on national and international theatrical tours, and heard on two Grammy Award-winning recordings. See why Opera News said of the competition, "[N]o vocal contest better targets today's total-package talents, unearthing up-and-coming singers who are ready for their close-ups."

Download press release

###

If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .


Semifinalists Announced for the 2017 Lotte Lenya Competition

Thirty-two singers selected as semifinalists; record number of audition videos received.

February 15, 2017: Kim H. Kowalke, President and CEO of the Kurt Weill Foundation, has announced the semifinalists for the 20th annual Lotte Lenya Competition. The Foundation received 266 audition videos, the most in the Competition's history, from singer/actors ages 19-32, hailing from thirty-one US states and sixteen countries on five continents. From that pool, thirty-two semifinalists from the U.S., Canada, France, Israel, Luxembourg, and Mexico have been selected to perform at the semifinals at the Manhattan School of Music on 9 and 10 March.

Meroë Adeeb
Carolyn Bacon
Curtis Bannister
Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod
Daniel Berryman
Felipe Bombonato
Samantha Bruce
Kristen Choi
Jil Clesse
Kellie Cundiff
Molly Dunn
Benjamin Dutton
Jasmine Habersham
Michael Hewitt
Maurio Hines
Philip Kalmanovitch
Charlotte Knight
Reilly Nelson
Lindsay O'Neil
Marie Oppert
Tony Potts
Taylor Raven
Katherine Riddle
Lisa Rogali
Mackenzie Rogers
Laura Sanders
Aaron Sheppard
Bradley Smoak
Elise Spurlock
Travis Taylor
Paulina Villarreal
Anson Woodin

This year's semifinals judges are veteran Broadway performer Judy Blazer and Tony Award-winning music director Ted Sperling. Each contestant will perform a fifteen-minute program of repertoire from the operatic, golden age, and contemporary musical theater stages, and the music of Kurt Weill, and then receive a fifteen-minute coaching session with that day's judge. The top-rated performers will then proceed to the Competition finals, where they will sing for another star-studded jury composed of renowned stage director Anne Bogart, Tony Award-winning actor Shuler Hensley, and Broadway music director, conductor, and orchestrator Rob Berman. Finals take place on 22 April at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and are open to the public.

In addition to the semifinalists, six contestants were recognized with Emerging Talent Awards of $500 each: Annette Berning, Tucker Breder, Kalyn Schnable, Juliane Stolzenbach Ramos, Trevor Vanderzee, and Danielle Bavli. Jennifer Witton of London, UK, received the Grace Keagy Award of $500 for Outstanding Vocal Promise. All semifinalists receive a cash award of $500. Those who move on to the finals will receive a minimum of $1,000, with individual discretionary awards of $3,500 and $5,000, and top prizes increased this year to $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000. Total prizes will exceed $75,000.

More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in wide-ranging theatrical repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Past prizewinners have gone on to appear on major theater, opera, and concert stages around the world. Don't miss the competition described by Opera News as "target[ing] today's total-package talents, unearthing up-and-coming singers who are ready for their close-ups."

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If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .

 

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