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Music Academy of the West's 2013 Marilyn Horne Winners to Present World Premiere

The 2013 winners of the Music Academy of the West's Marilyn Horne Song Competition, baritone John Brancy and pianist Mario Antonio Marra, will perform the premiere of Force by up-and-coming composer Chris Kapica, Schumann's Dichterliebe, works by Dvorák, and American standards in a trio of East and West Coast recitals. The first will take place at the Music Academy's Hahn Hall in Santa Barbara, California on Tuesday, March 4, followed by Santa Monica's Broad Stage on Friday, March 7, and the National Opera Center in New York City on Sunday, March 16. The New York recital is part of OPERA America's Emerging Artist Recital Series, a showcase for finalists and prizewinners from the nation's most prestigious young artist programs and competitions.

In addition to Force and Dichterliebe, Brancy and Marra's complete program for all three performances will include Koljas and Nereiden from Dvorák's Three Modern Greek Poems, Op. 50; Mé srdce casto v bolesti ("My heart is often in pain") from Cypresses, B. 11, also by Dvorák; "The Nearness of You" by Hoagy Carmichael; "The Folks who Live on the Hill" by Jerome Kern; and "Night and Day" by Cole Porter. Following the March 4 recital in Santa Barbara, world-renowned mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne will conduct a question-and-answer session with the performers on stage.

"The song recital remains a uniquely vibrant art form. It's vital that we continue to nurture and promote it among performers and audiences alike," said Horne, who has directed the Music Academy's celebrated Voice Program since 1997. "Once again we have two wonderful young recitalists who I am confident are destined for long careers on stage."

Hailed by the New York Times as "a vibrant, resonate presence" and a "dashing, strong-voiced baritone," John Brancy has given recitals throughout Europe and North America, and has appeared frequently in concert with Steven Blier and the New York Festival of Song. His appearances this season include debuts with Oper Frankfurt, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Pacific Opera Victoria, as well as performances with the Saskatoon and Regina Symphony Orchestras, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Brooklyn Art Song Society. Brancy, who studied with Horne as a 2013 Music Academy Voice Fellow, was born in Philadelphia and recently received his bachelor's degree and graduate diploma at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Edith Wiens. Horne has described him as "a complete singer with wonderful expression."

Warren Jones, who directs the Music Academy's Vocal Piano and Interpretation Program, added, "John Brancy is a very gifted young baritone who combines a beautiful lyric voice with a communicative and engaging manner on stage. His attention to details of text and meaning gives his performances a deep dimension of understanding and projection well beyond his years."

"I am honored and thrilled to be singing in this upcoming recital series presented by Marilyn Horne and the Music Academy of the West," said the 25-year-old Brancy. "My collaboration with pianist Mario Antonio Marra has been nothing short of inspiring. It is also my pleasure to announce the premiere of Force, a new vocal piano work written specifically for these recitals by my dear friend and fellow Juilliard alumnus Chris Kapica, with lyrics by my life-long friend, poet Robert Corsini."

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Mario Antonio Marra, 22, recently received a bachelor of music degree from New York University, where he studied with Marilyn Nonken and Grant Wenaus. His recent performance highlights include "The Song Continues" at Carnegie Hall, a tour of Tuscany as a soloist and collaborator with flutist Roberto Fabbriciani, and the rare privilege of playing a High Mass on the organ of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Marra is currently on the coaching staff of the Manhattan School of Music, where he is pursuing a graduate degree under the tutelage of Warren Jones.

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