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Soprano Janai Brugger Wins 2016 Marian Anderson Vocal Award


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington National Opera (WNO) today announced that soprano Janai Brugger is the 2016 winner of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award. The Award, which honors trailblazing contralto Marian Anderson's personal and humanitarian achievements, celebrates excellence in performance by recognizing a young American singer who has achieved initial professional success in the vocal arts and who exhibits promise for a significant career. In addition to receiving a $10,000 cash prize, Ms. Brugger will perform a recital on Thursday, September 8, 2016 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater and will establish an educational residency at the opera workshop program of Washington's Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

"I am so excited to win this prestigious award and to join the ranks of so many past winners who continue to inspire me," said Ms. Brugger. "I can't wait to work with the students at Duke Ellington and to share with them how Marian Anderson's enduring legacy continues to shape my career and my life."

Janai Brugger is one of opera's brightest rising stars. She was the 2012 winner of Plácido Domingo's prestigious Operalia competition, taking all three prizes, and the same year she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She recently made her WNO debut as Micaëla in Carmen, a role she will sing later this season at Lyric Opera of Kansas City. She also returns to LA Opera later in the 2015-2016 season as Musetta in La bohème with conductor Gustavo Dudamel and makes her role debut as Norina in Don Pasquale at Palm Beach Opera, following her past success there as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette in 2010. Recent highlights include her debut at London's Royal Opera House as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and a return appearance at the Metropolitan Opera as Helena in The Enchanted Island, which followed her debut in 2012 as Liù in Turandot. She has numerous concert and recital appearances to her credit, including the recent Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series at Brooklyn Bridge Park and on Central Park's SummerStage, as well as several appearances in the Met's Rising Stars Concert Series nationwide

In keeping with its mission to develop programs and initiatives that connect exemplary artists with the community, the Kennedy Center will work with Ms. Brugger to create a curriculum for an educational residency at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, the District of Columbia's public arts magnet high school. The residency will include master classes and workshops with vocal music students, as well as other events developed by Ms. Brugger. The school offers a dual curriculum encompassing professional arts training along with academic enrichment, helping to prepare its students for both college and future careers in the arts.

"Janai Brugger is an outstanding artist and I am thrilled that she is the Marian Anderson Vocal Award winner this year," said WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "The life and career of Marian Anderson stands as a stirring example to all young artists, and Janai's work with the remarkable vocal students at the Duke Ellington School will honor that legacy in very meaningful ways."

To celebrate the Award, Ms. Brugger will also perform a recital on Thursday, September 8, 2016 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater. Ticket information for the recital will be announced in the coming weeks.

Ms. Brugger was selected from a pool of singers who were nominated by opera companies, orchestral and choral organizations, agents, professional music critics, and other organizations and individuals across the country. The selection committee included distinguished members of the opera and classical music communities, including James Conlon (LA Opera), Jonathan Friend (The Metropolitan Opera), Jeremy Geffen (Carnegie Hall), Charles MacKay (Santa Fe Opera), Francesca Zambello (WNO), and Brian Zeger (The Juilliard School).

Prior Award recipients include Sylvia McNair, Denyce Graves, Philip Zawisza, Nancy Maultsby, Patricia Racette, Michelle DeYoung, Nathan Gunn, Marguerite Krull, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Indira Mahajan, Sasha Cooke, J'nai Bridges, and most recently, Jamie Barton.

Beginning this year, the Award will be given on an annual basis. Nominations for the 2017 Award will open in September 2016

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