Finalists Announced For the 2020 George London Award Competition
On February 21, 2020, some of the best young American and Canadian opera singers will perform with pianist Lydia Brown before a panel of judges and an enthusiastic audience at The Morgan Library & Museum. At the event's conclusion, a few of them will be named this year's winners of the George London Award, an honor that has been conferred upon hundreds of the best young singers since 1971. The award, currently a $10,000 prize, is named for the legendary Canadian-American bass-baritone, one of the greatest opera singers of 20th century.
This event is the final round of the 49th annual George London Foundation Competition, one of the oldest and most prestigious vocal competitions in the U.S. and Canada. Over three days of preliminary auditions on February 17-19, approximately 90 singers will compete to reach the finals. On Friday, February 21, at 4:00 PM, at the Morgan's Gilder Lehrman Hall, each finalist performs one selection, and the audience is invited to a reception while the judges deliberate. The audience is then asked back into the hall for the announcement of the winners.
This year's panel of judges includes soprano Harolyn Blackwell, mezzo-soprano Susan Quittmeyer, Spoleto Festival Artistic Administrator Lenore Rosenberg, tenor Richard Stillwell (one of the first George London Award winners), George London Foundation Executive Director John Hauser, and George London Foundation President Nora London. The competition pianist is Lydia Brown.
The 2019 George London Award winners were soprano Rebecca Pedersen, mezzo-sopranos Samantha Gossard and Carolyn Sproule, and tenors Kyle van Schoonhoven and Charles Sy (pictured above with Nora London).
As The New York Times recently noted, "this prestigious competition ... can rightfully claim to act as a springboard for major careers in opera."
Many George London Award winners have gone on to international stardom - the list of past winners includes Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Catherine Malfitano, James Morris, Matthew Polenzani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Neil Shicoff, and Dawn Upshaw. (See list below.)
Continuing the foundation's season of events are a gala benefit reception marking George London's 100th birthday, and the final event in the season's George London Foundation Recital Series, which presents pairs of outstanding opera singers, many of whom were winners of a George London Award:
- "Celebrating George London's 100th Birthday," a gala benefit reception at New York's famed Metropolitan Club, will gather former colleagues of London's and past winners of the competition to celebrate the singer's centennial and honor the work that the foundation continues in his name. Thursday, March 19, 2020, at the Metropolitan Club
- Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano, and Lawson Anderson, bass-baritone, perform a duo-recital with Ken Noda, piano. Both singers are 2018 George London Award winners; in its coverage of the competition, New York Classical Review described Anderson's voice in his award-winning performance as "like granite, perfectly firm, but with a richly veined tone," and Chaieb's performance as "captivating." Sunday, April 19, 2020, at 4:00 pm at The Morgan Library & Museum
The goal of the London Foundation, the support and nurturing of young singers, was an abiding interest of the great Canadian-American bass-baritone George London, who devoted a great part of the time and energy of his later years to this purpose. "Remembering his difficult road to success, George wanted to devise a way to make the road a little easier for future generations of singers," said George London Foundation President Nora London. Initially created under the auspices of the National Opera Institute, the George London Awards program has been administered since 1990 directly by the Foundation as a living legacy to George London's own exceptional talent and generosity. Visit www.georgelondon.org.
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