NEW YORK CITY: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music has announced the creation of the Rebecca Luker Award, an annual award given to a finalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition for an outstanding performance of a selection from the Golden Age of American musical theatre. The award, approved unanimously by the foundation’s board of trustees, is named in honor of Broadway performer Rebecca Luker, who died in December 2020.
“Luker’s career as an ingenue centered on this repertory, which she performed definitively and seemingly effortlessly,” said Kim Kowalke, foundation president and founder of the Lotte Lenya Competition, in a statement. “Her recordings remain a model and a standard for contestants in the Lotte Lenya Competition. The courage and commitment she demonstrated in adjudicating last year’s semifinals from her wheelchair was an inspiration for the 13 singers who were fortunate to experience Rebecca’s warmth, wisdom, kindness, and radiance while she was already struggling with the ravages of ALS. Sitting next to Rebecca as she adjudicated and coached on six occasions was a privilege and profound tutelage I will treasure always.”
The Lotte Lenya Competition was established in 1998 to honor the centenary of the birth of singer and actress Lotte Lenya, Weill’s widow. Luker was an advocate for the competition, which recognizes talented singer-actors ages 19-32, serving as a judge of the semifinal and final rounds of the competition three times each, including the 2020 semifinal round, which took place after she had been diagnosed with ALS. In addition to helping select the winners, Luker coached the prize winners and shared insights from her own career.
In addition to the announcement of the new award, the Kurt Weill Foundation also collected tributes to Luker’s legacy, including quotes from Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Laura Benanti, and Kristin Chenoweth, as well as obituaries and tributes from media outlets across the country. Those tributes can be found on the foundation’s website.
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