George London Foundation Presents Heidi Melton & Kyle van Schoonhoven in Recital
Soprano Heidi Melton is the 2009 George London-Kirsten Flagstad Award winner who in February sings the role of Sieglinde in the New York Philharmonic's concert performance of Act I of Wagner's Die Walküre led by Jaap van Zweden, and tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven is the winner of the Nicolai Gedda Memorial Award at the 2017 George London competition as well as a 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner. These two young rising stars join pianist Craig Rutenberg to perform a joint recital, the final event of the George London Foundation's 2017-18 season, on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at 4:00 pm, at the Morgan Library and Museum's Gilder Lehrman Hall.
The George London Foundation for Singers, named for the great American bass-baritone, has been honoring, supporting, and presenting the finest young American and Canadian opera singers since 1971. The foundation's annual recital series, which celebrated its 20th anniversary with a star-studded gala in 2016, presents pairs of outstanding singers, many of whom were winners of a George London Award, the prize of the foundation's annual vocal competition.
Heidi Melton will sing Debussy's Trois Chansons de Bilitis and "Isolde's Narrative and Curse" from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Kyle van Schoonhoven will perform songs by English composers Vaughan Williams, Britten, and Bridge, and two Wagner arias - the prayer from Rienzi and "Mein lieber Schwan" from Lohengrin. The two singers will perform "Brautgemach" ("Bridal Chamber Scene") from Lohengrin.
Recent Praise for Heidi Melton and Kyle van Schoonhoven
When Heidi Melton this past fall made her role debut as Brünnhilde in a new production of Götterdämmerung at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said, "the American soprano Heidi Melton demonstrated complete certainty and succeeded in singing the murderous part of Brünnhilde strongly until the very last note." When she performed the role of Mescalina in Ligeti's Le grand macabre with Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra last season, the Financial Times said, "As Mescalina, the whip-wielding wife, Wagnerian soprano Heidi Melton proved luxury casting." And of her 2016 performance of Strauss songs with the New York Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, Opera News said, "Heidi Melton slew 'Ruhe, meine Seele' with her silky soprano, which you want to wrap around yourself like a scarf and rub your cheeks against all day."
When Kyle van Schoonhoven, currently an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, performed in the Adler Fellows' concert last December, the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Perhaps the evening's most striking revelation came shortly before the end, when tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven unleashed a vivid, shapely and full-throated account of 'Mein lieber Schwan' from Wagner's 'Lohengrin,'" and Opera West observed, "This is a rare and amazing instrument, combined with musicality and presence." And of his performance at the 2017 George London Foundation competition, New York Classical Review commented, "Kyle van Schoonhoven won singing the mad scene from Peter Grimes "with riveting directness."
Before the March 4 recital, the 47th annual George London Foundation Awards Competition takes place, with three days of preliminary auditions culminating with the final round and award ceremony open to the public. The 2018 competition takes place February 12-16, and the public is invited to attend the competition finals and awards announcement on Friday, February 16, 2018, at 4:00 PM.
The George London Foundation Awards and Recital Series
The George London Foundation Awards competition is one of the oldest vocal competitions in the United States and Canada, and it offers among the most substantial awards.
Through the annual juried competition for outstanding young American and Canadian opera singers (under the age of 35 who must have performed at least one professional engagement), awards are given to the most promising performers: at the 2017 competition, a total of $75,000 was given in the form of five George London Awards of $10,000, three awards of $5,000, and 10 awards of $1,000.
The recital series began at the Morgan in 1995 as a way to give grantees exposure and experience, and, in many cases, a New York debut. Each season consists of three recitals featuring recent award winners sometimes paired with a well-known international artist - often a past George London Award winner - that have in recent years included Joyce DiDonato, Eric Owens, Stephen Costello, Ailyn Perez, Matthew Polenzani, Christine Brewer, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, René Pape, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, and Dawn Upshaw.
Heidi Melton (2009 George London-Kirsten Flagstad Award) is a native of Spokane, Washington. This season she made her role debut as Brünnhilde to great critical acclaim in a new production of Götterdämmerung at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, which will be followed by performances of the complete Ring cycle later in the spring. Ms. Melton also returns to the New York Philharmonic as Sieglinde in Act 1 of Die Walküre and with the Dallas Symphony as Brünnhilde in a complete concert performance of Die Walküre, both conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Last season saw Ms. Melton's first performances of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre and Siegfried, both at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. She also debuted with the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic in Ligeti's Le grand macabre under Simon Rattle. She returned to the Hong Kong Philharmonic in concert performances of Siegfried which was recorded for Naxos and debuted at Houston Grand Opera as Gutrune inGötterdämmerung. She sang performances of Isolde in Tristan und Isolde with Valery Gergiev and the Mariisnky Orchestra for commercial recording. Ms. Melton recently debuted with the Vienna Philharmonic singing Brünnhilde's "Immolation Scene" from Götterdämmerung under the baton of Valery Gergiev, both in Vienna at the Musikverein and in New York at Carnegie Hall. She made her New York Philharmonic debut with Alan Gilbert in Strauss Lieder and Act 3 of Die Walküre as Brünnhilde. www.heidimelton.com
Kyle van Schoonhoven (2017 Nicolai Gedda Memorial Award from the George London Foundation) is currently an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera. He made his debut on the San Francisco Opera stage as Young Servant in Strauss' Elektra, and covered the leading roles of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Aegisth in Elektra. In addition, he will cover Froh in Das Rheingold, and Siegmund in Die Walküre. ?In 2017, in addition to winning his George London Foundation award, van Schoonhoven was named a winner of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He also received the top prize in the Brava! Opera Theater and James M. Collier Young Artist Program Vocal Competition, and was a finalist in the 2016 Jensen Foundation Voice Competition.
Among Mr. van Schoonhoven's other roles are Don José in Carmen, the title role in Chandler Carter's Bobby, Alfredo in La Traviata, Bacchus inAriadne auf Naxos, Hoffmann in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Peter Fallow in Stefania de Kenessey's Bonfire of the Vanities, and Genaro in the U.S. Russian-language premiere cast of Prokofiev's Maddalena. Mr. van Schoonhoven holds degrees from the Fredonia School of Music, and Westminster Choir College. www.kylevanschoonhoven.com
Photo: Heidi Melton (photo by Simon Pauly) and Kyle van Schoonhoven (photo by Paul Sirochman Photography)