NEW YORK CITY: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music presented a record number of prizes in the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition, which was held on April 18 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. An international theatre singing contest, the Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singer/actors, aged 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill.
Lauren Michelle of Los Angeles took the $15,000 first prize. Robin Bailey of London and Jordan Davidson of Philadelphia both received second prize, with $10,000 each. Adam Fieldson of Lincoln, Neb., and Michael Maliakel of New York both won third prize, with $7,500 each. The remaining finalists received $2,000 each, double what is usually awarded. The foundation distributed a total of $85,500 in prizes this year.
“The judges found it difficult to choose only three top winners because of the consistently high level of talent, versatility and preparation of all the finalists,” said Kim H. Kowalke, president of the Kurt Weill Foundation and founder of the competition, in a statement.
For the competition, 14 finalists presented four songs each. Michelle performed “My Own Morning” from Hallelujah, Baby, “Denn wie mann sich bettet” from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, “I’ll Be Here” from Ordinary Days and “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess. As the first prize winner, she will represent the U.S. in the 2015 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest.
Special awards were also presented, with Talya Lieberman of Queens, N.Y., and Florian Peters of Köln, Germany receiving $3,500 Lys Symonette Awards for outstanding performance of an individual number for “Non, monsieur mon mari” from Les mamelles de Tirésias and for “Bilbao Song” from Happy End, respectively. Briana Silvie Gantsweg of Brooklyn, N.Y., won a special $3,500 Carolyn Weber Award for her creative programming and sensitivity to text/music relationships. The remaining finalists were Anthony Heinemann of St. Louis, Mo.; Carter Lynch of New York; Katherine Riddle of Annapolis, Md.; Jim Schubin of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Annie Sherman of Los Angeles; and Christine Cornish Smith of New York.
Actress Rebecca Luker, conductor James Holmes and Rodgers & Hammerstein president and American Theatre Wing vice-chairman Theodore S. Chapin served as the judges. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $700,000 in prize money to outstanding young performers and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.