Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

2014 Music Academy of the West Marilyn Horne Song Competition to Launch National Recital Tour

Soprano Michelle Bradley and pianist Michael Gaertner, winners of the 2014 Music Academy of the West Marilyn Horne Song Competition, will perform a program of lieder, spirituals, and other works by Beethoven, Strauss, Duparc, Faure, Poulenc, Bachelet, and H.T. Burleigh in recital appearances this May in Santa Barbara, Dallas, and New York City.

The first performance will take place at 7:30 pm on Thursday, May 14, in the Music Academy's Hahn Hall. Ms. Bradley and Mr. Gaertner also will perform at 2 pm on Sunday, May 17, in Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art, and at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 20, at the National Opera Center in New York City. The latter event will be live streamed. The complete program for all three performances will include Beethoven's Ah! Perfido; Strauss' "Ständchen," "Befreit," "Freundliche Vision," "Ich trage meine Minne," and "Cäcilie"; Duparc's "La vie antérieure"; Faure's "Au cimetiere" and "Notre Amour"; Poulenc's "Les chemins de l'Amour"; Bachelet's "Chère nuit"; H.T. Burleigh's "Five Songs of Laurence Hope" and "Give Me Jesus"; and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" (arrangement by Margaret Bonds/Jessye Norman).

"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 Ms. 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."

Born in Versailles, Kentucky, Ms. Bradley is a graduate of Kentucky State and Bowling Green State universities. She currently resides in Houston, Texas, where she studies privately with Lois Alba. The recipient of a Houston Ebony Opera Guild Encouragement Award, Ms. Bradley won the Lois Alba Aria Competition in 2011, and recently earned third prize in the 2014 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition. She placed third and received the Audience Choice Award at the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert Vocal Competition in December 2013. Ms. Bradley made her New York debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Opera Ebony last October, and will sing the title role in Puccini's Suor Angelica produced by Lois Alba and the Soma International Foundation in April.

"I am elated to be performing a recital tour and representing the Music Academy of the West," said Ms. Bradley, 32. "It's exciting to share with audiences the works of some of my favorite German composers, Richard Strauss and Ludwig van Beethoven. I am grateful for the time invested in me by Marilyn Horne and all of the Music Academy family."

A rising and sought-after collaborator and coach, Mr. Gaertner is currently the resident pianist at Shreveport Opera, where his duties include serving as chorus master for the company's productions, as well as concert performances and outreach programs throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Gaertner recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a master's degree in collaborative piano. He earned a bachelor's degree in piano performance, with a collaborative emphasis, at Ithaca College, where he received the Mary Hayes North Piano Competition Award and was a finalist in the college's annual concerto competition. His teachers have included Martin Katz, Warren Jones, Kenneth Merrill, Jennifer Hayghe, and Charis Dimaras, and he has performed in masterclasses for Eric Owens, Deborah Voigt, and Marilyn Horne.

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate and perform with Michelle for these recitals," said Mr. Gaertner, 24. "I greatly enjoyed meeting Michelle last summer and am looking forward to performing a beautiful program of music with her on tour. We are very grateful to Marilyn Horne, Warren Jones, and the Music Academy of the West for allowing us the privilege to work together again and share our love for art song."

One of the most popular events of the summer season at the Music Academy of the West, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition is a showcase for Academy singers and vocal pianists. Top awards, presented in memory of longtime Music Academy vocal accompaniment faculty member Gwendolyn Koldofsky, are given to the Academy singer and vocal pianist who demonstrate both excellence in the performance of song repertoire and an exceptional gift for audience communication. Winners receive full underwriting from the Music Academy for recital appearances, cash awards of $2,500, and individual consultations with New York-based communications firm 21C Media Group. The competition regularly attracts industry insiders eager for a glimpse of emerging talent.

Previous winners of the competition have included baritone John Brancy and pianist Mario Antonio Marra (2013); soprano Tracy Cox and pianist Maureen Zoltek (2012); soprano Karen Vuong and pianist Saule Tlenchiyeva (2011); soprano Megan Hart and pianist Sun Ha "Sunny" Yoon (2010); mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller, tenor Jeffrey Hill, and pianist Lio Kuokman (2009); soprano Simone Osborne, baritone Edward Parks, and pianist In-Sun Suh (2008); soprano Nadine Sierra and pianist Karen Kyung-Eun Na (2007); baritone Evan Hughes (2006); soprano Elaine Alvarez, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and pianist Tamara Sanikidze (2005); mezzo-soprano Daniela Lehner and pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone (2004); mezzo-soprano Megan Latham and pianist Carol Wong (2003); mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski and pianist Jerome Tan (2002); tenor Ramon Diggs and pianist Nino Sanikidze (2001); baritone Nicolai Janitzky, mezzo-soprano Liesel Fedkenheuer, and pianists Ji Young Lee and Spencer Myer (2000).

Tickets for the May 14 recital cost $25 for general admission and $10 for students. Hahn Hall is located at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road in Santa Barbara. Free parking will be available on the campus grounds.

The Dallas Museum of Art is located at 1717 N. Harwood Street in Dallas. The May 17 recital will be presented as part of the Dallas Opera's Robert E. and Jean Ann Titus Art Song Recital Series. For additional information on that event, visit or call 214.443.1000.

The recital on May 20 will be presented as part of Opera America's Emerging Artist Recital Series, which was inaugurated in September 2013 by 2012 Music Academy of the West Marilyn Horne Song Competition winners Tracy Cox and Maureen Zoltek. For additional information relating to that event, including live-streaming details, visit

The Music Academy of the West's 2015 Summer School and Festival will take place from June 15 to August 8. Over the course of this year's eight-week season the Music Academy will present some 200 events, including a new production of Gioachino Rossini's effervescent comic opera Cinderella and five performances by the Academy Festival Orchestra at the historic Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara. Guest conductors in 2015 will include Larry Rachleff, Osmo Vänskä, Courtney Lewis, Nicholas McGegan, and Christoph von Dohnányi. Additional season highlights will include a performance by the Takács Quartet. Featuring the Academy's exceptionally talented Fellows, together with illustrious guest performers and faculty, the events will be presented at the Academy's scenic oceanside campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara.

Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles View More Classical Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You