George London Foundation Awards
The winners of the 41st 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 in a front of a capacity audience at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.
A total of $75,500 was given in awards. After three days of preliminary auditions during which 90 singers were heard (selected from more than 200 applicants), 24 were selected as finalists. Of these, six were selected as winners of George London Awards of $10,000 each and 13 were given George London Foundation Encouragement Awards of $1,000 each. The remaining five finalists received $500 Honorable Mention awards.
One of the 2012 George London Award winners, Margaret Mezzacappa, won an Encouragement Award in 2011.
George London Award winners (left to right) Zachary Nelson, Suzanne Hendrix, Corinne Winters,
George London Foundation President Nora London, Margaret Mezzacappa, Chloé Moore, Brandon Cedel (Photo by Shawn Ehlers)
George London AWARDS ($10,000 each):
Brandon Cedel, Bass-baritone, 23 – George London Award (Sponsored by the Gerda Lissner Foundation)
Suzanne Hendrix, Contralto, 32 – George London-Kirsten Flagstad Award (For a singer preparing for a Wagnerian career)
Margaret Mezzacappa, Mezzo-soprano, 24 – George London Award
Chloé Moore, Soprano, 28 – George London Award (For a Canadian singer)
Zachary Nelson, Baritone, 25 – George London Award (In memory of Lloyd Rigler)
Corinne Winters, Soprano, 28 – George London-Leonie Rysanek Award
George London FOUNDATION ENCOURAGEMENT AWARDS ($1,000 each):
Michele Angelini, Tenor, 29 (In memory of Charles Anthony)
Noah Baetge, Tenor, 31 (In memory of Merle Hubbard)
Deanna Breiwick, Soprano, 24 (In memory of Lloyd Rigler)
J'nai Bridges, Mezzo-soprano, 24 (In memory of Merle Hubbard)
Eugene Chan, Baritone, 28 (In memory of Lloyd Rigler)
John Holiday, Jr., Countertenor, 26 (In memory of George Lowin)
Courtney Johnson, Soprano, 20 (In memory of Norma Newton)
Will Liverman, Baritone, 23 (In memory of Theodore Uppman)
Sydney Mancasola, Soprano, 24 (In memory of Merle Hubbard)
Johnathan McCullough, Baritone, 20 (Robert Jacobson Memorial Award)
Nicholas Pallesen, Baritone, 32 (In memory of Merle Hubbard)
Suzanne Rigden, Soprano, 26 (For a Canadian singer)
John Viscardi, Tenor, 28 (In memory of Merle Hubbard)
(The Encouragement Awards in memory of Merle Hubbard are sponsored by the M.S. Worthington Foundation.)
This year's panel of judges included artist manager Ken Benson; opera stage director Bruce Donnell; former Metropolitan Opera administrator Alfred F. Hubay; George London Foundation President Nora London; mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer; former Metropolitan Opera leading tenor and current voice professor George Shirley; and performing arts consultant Thurmond Smithgall. The competition pianist was Linda Hall.
Since 1971, the annual competition of The George London Foundation for Singers has been giving its George London 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, 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.
The goal of the London Foundation, the support and nurturing of young singers, was an abiding interest of the great 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.
2012 George London Award Winners
Brandon Cedel, Bass-baritone, 23
Bass-baritone Brandon Cedel is currently pursuing a master's degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he is a student of Marlena Malas. While at Curtis he has sung many roles with the Curtis Opera Theater, including: The Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, Escamillo in Le tragedie de Carmen, Gaudenzio in Il Signor Bruschino, Dr. Bartolo in IL Barbiere di Siviglia, and Belcore in L'elisir d'amore. Outside of the Curtis Opera Theater he has been seen as Colline in La bohème with the Harrisburg Symphony, and Sciarrone in Tosca with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
He has attended the Music Academy of the West, where he covered the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni in 2010 and sang the role of Don Basilio in IL Barbiere di Siviglia in the summer of 2011.
He has taken top prize in: the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, the Guilio Gari Vocal Competition, the Sue Goetz Ross Memorial Competition-Washington DC, the Livingston Mather Competition-Cleveland, OH, and PA NATS Competition-Harrisburg, PA. He took second prize in the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Vocal competition, Liederkranz Vocal Competition General Opera division, and the Judge's Award from the Opera Index Vocal Competition. He has also received awards from: the Loren L. Zarchary Vocal Competiton, Mario Lanza Vocal Competition, Letters and Arts Foundation, and the Anna Sosenko Fund.
This season, Brandon will be heard as Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust and Capellio in I Capuleti e i Montecchi with the Curtis Opera Theater. He will be singing Raimondo in Rienzi, under the baton of Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York. He will also be making his Opera Santa Barbara debut in the title role of Le nozze di Figaro.
Suzanne Hendrix, Contralto, 32
Contralto Suzanne Hendrix began 2012 by making her role debut as Azucena in Il trovatore at Wichita Grand Opera. Later in the year, she will return to the Santa Fe Opera as an apprentice artist and sing the
role of the Fortune Teller in Arabella.
Ms. Hendrix made her San Francisco Opera debut in Die Walküre in the role of Schwertleite. She performs frequently with Wichita Grand Opera, and in 2011, sang Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. Additional roles also include Mercédès (Carmen), Ma (The Tender Land), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), the Princess (Suor Angelica), and Florence Pike (Albert Herring). On the concert stage, Ms. Hendrix has appeared as a soloist in Durufé's Requiem, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, and Handel's Messiah, among other pieces. She is a former apprentice artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, Merola Opera Program, and the Santa Fe Opera.
Ms. Hendrix teaches voice at Avila University in Kansas City, and has also been on faculty at the University of Northern Iowa and Wartburg College. She attended the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory as well as the University of Northern Iowa.