Winners Of The 2019 George London Awards Are Announced
The winners of the 48th annual George London Foundation Awards Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers were announced at the conclusion of the competition's final round this evening, which took place before an enthusiastic audience at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.
A total of $61,000 was given in awards. Of all the singers heard over three days of auditions, 16 were selected as finalists to perform at the Morgan. Of these, five were selected as winners of George London Awards of $10,000 each. The remaining 11 singers were awarded George London Encouragement Awards of $1,000 each.
George London Foundation President Nora London, third from right, with 2019 George London Award winners (left to right) Carolyn Sproule, Samantha Gossard, Charles Sy, Rebecca Pedersen, and Kyle van Schoonhoven. Photo by Jennifer Taylor (Click here to download hi-res version.)
The George London Foundation and George London Awards are named for the great American bass-baritone (1920-1985), who devoted much of his time and energy in his later years to the support and nurturing of young singers. The announcement was made by George London's widow, Nora London, the foundation's president, who said in her remarks, "I know that George would have been so happy to hear you all. I know I need not worry about the future of opera."
GEORGE LONDON AWARDS ($10,000 each):
Samantha Gossard, mezzo-soprano (30, Sidney, OH), who sang "Connais-tu le pays" from Massenet's Mignon - George London Award sponsored by Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, The Miriam and Arthur Diamond Charitable Trust and Barbara Brookes
Rebecca Pedersen, soprano (27, Salem, UT), who sang "Dich teure Halle" from Wagner's Tannhäuser - George London Award in memory of Leonie Rysanek sponsored by an anonymous donor
Carolyn Sproule, mezzo-soprano (30, Montréal, Canada), who sang "Deh! Proteggimi o Dio" from Bellini's Norma - George London Award for a Canadian singer, sponsored by Mrs. Walter J. Laughery
Charles Sy, tenor (27, Toronto, Canada), who sang "Ich baue ganz" from Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail - George London Award in memory of Lloyd E. Rigler and Lawrence E. Deutsch, sponsored by The Lloyd E. Rigler - Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, James D. Rigler, President
Kyle van Schoonhoven, tenor (30, Lockport, NY), who sang "Mein Lieber Schwan" from Wagner's Lohengrin - George London Award in memory of Kirsten Flagstad, sponsored in part by the New York Community Trust
GEORGE LONDON ENCOURAGEMENT AWARDS ($1,000 each)
Amanda Lynn Bottoms, mezzo-soprano (27, Cheektowaga, NY), who sang "Charlotte's Letter Scene" from Massenet's Werther - Award sponsored by Meche Kroop
Sarah Joyce Cooper, soprano (27, Lincoln, MA), who sang "E strano...Sempre libera" from Verdi's La Traviata - Award sponsored by Donald Palumbo
Ron Dukes, bass (24, Indianapolis, IN), who sang "Vous qui faites l'endormie" from Gounod's Faust - Award in memory of Louis D'Angelo, sponsored by Robert Lombardo
Vartan Gabrielian, bass-baritone (25, Toronto, Canada), who sang "Quand la flamme de l'amour" from Bizet's La jolie fille de Perth - Award in memory of Jaclyn Rendall Elyn, sponsored by Mark Elyn
Shannon Jennings, soprano (30, Orlando, FL), who sang "Stridono lassù" from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci - Award sponsored by the George London Foundation
Olivia Smith, soprano (20, Kelowna, BC, Canada), who sang "Deh vieni non tardar" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro - Award in memory of Jaclyn Rendall Elyn, sponsored by Mark Elyn
Matthew Swensen, tenor (26, Rochester, NY), who sang "Ecco ridente in cielo" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Award in memory of Irwin Scherzer, sponsored by The Irwin S. Scherzer Foundation
Joseph Tancredi, tenor (21, Bayville, NY), who sang "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from Lehár's Das Land des Lächelns - Award in memory of Alfred Hubay, sponsored by the George London Foundation
Polixeni Tsiouvaras, mezzo-soprano (23, Santa Barbara, CA), who sang "Se Romeo t'uccise un figlio" from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi - Award in memory of Alan M. Ades, sponsored by Joan Taub Ades
Matthew White, tenor (27, New Market, VA), who sang "O paradis" from Meyerbeer's L'Africaine - Award in memory of Herbert J. Frank, sponsored by David Shustak
This year's panel of judges included soprano Harolyn Blackwell, George London Foundation Executive Director John Hauser, George London Foundation President Nora London, and tenor and voice professor George Shirley. The competition pianist was David Holkeboer.
The 2018 George London Award winners were soprano Lauren Margison, mezzo-sopranos Raehann Bryce-Davis, Rihab Chaieb, and Emily D'Angelo, baritone Benjamin Taylor, and bass-baritone Lawson Anderson.
Since 1971, the annual competition of The George London Foundation for Singers has given more than 300 awards, and a total of more than $2 million, to an outstanding roster of young American and Canadian opera singers who 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.
One of the oldest vocal competitions in the United States and Canada, the George London Foundation Awards Competition offers among the most substantial awards. As is seldom the case in musical competitions, no fee is charged to the applicants or competitors, a pianist is provided for the competition rounds, and prizes are awarded immediately.
To round out the foundation's season of events, the George London Foundation Recital Series, which presents pairs of outstanding opera singers, many of whom were winners of a George London Award, continues its 23rd year:
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor, and Amy Owens, soprano, with Warren Jones, piano. Griffey, arguably the world's reigning interpreter of the title role of Britten's Peter Grimes, appears in the 2018-19 Metropolitan Opera U.S. premiere production of Nico Muhly's Marnie. Amy Owens, who received critical acclaim when she stepped into the U.S. premiere of Milhaud's La mère coupable with On Site Opera in New York City last summer, won a $5,000 prize at the 2018 George London competition, and was praised by New York Classical Review for the "steely, pinpoint-accurate rendition of 'I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung,'" from Adams's Nixon in China. Sunday, March 24, 2019, at 4:00 pm
Julie Adams, soprano, and Emily D'Angelo, mezzo-soprano, with Ken Noda, piano. Adams, a 2015 George London Award winner, starred in the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts's Silent Night with Opera San Jose last year, prompting Opera Today to say, "Her rich, creamy, agile soprano was of the highest quality, the kind that prompts excited 'who-is-she?' intermission chatter (and beyond)." D'Angelo won her George London Award earlier this year, and was praised thus by New York Classical Review: "D'Angelo [was] among the most impressive, with a sublime rendition of Rosina's 'Una voce poco fa' from Barbiere di Siviglia, fitting her smoky mezzo-soprano over the contours of the aria like an impeccably tailored glove." Sunday, May 5, 2019, at 4:00 pm
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. As The New York Times recently noted, "this prestigious competition ... can rightfully claim to act as a springboard for major careers in opera." Visit www.georgelondon.org.