WSNY Singers Awards

Annual Society Awards and Grant to Singers

The 2017 awards and grants to singers with Wagnerian potential, totaling $16,000, have been announced by Scott Carlton, Artistic Director of the Society's Singer programs. (More info to come.) 
The top winners are as follows: 
   ·    Suzanne Hendrix, mezzo - Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Award: $6,000

   ·    David Leigh, bass - Ursula Springer Memorial Fund Award: $3,000

The following singers received grants:
   ·    Carami Hilaire, soprano - $2,000 encouragement grant

   ·    Emma McDermott, soprano - $1,000 encouragement grant

   ·    Amy Shoremount-Obra, soprano - $1,000 special one time grant 

   ·    Brooke Dircks, soprano - $1,000 encouragement grant

   ·    Jessine Johnson, soprano - $1,000 encouragement grant 

   ·    Stephen Carroll, tenor  - $1,000 encouragement grant

The jury panel consisted of Ken Benson, Cori Ellison, Eve Queler,and Scott Carlton.

2016 Awards and Grants to Five Young Singers

   NEW YORK, December 1, 2016 -- Five singers with Wagnerian potential were recipients of the annual awards and grants from the Wagner Society of New York, as announced by Scott Carlton, Singers Committee Chairman. Both top winners are on the current Metropolitan Opera roster. They will present a joint awardees recital for the Society in January 2017.

   ·    Tenor Cameron Schutza of Houston, Texas received the WSNY’s top prize, the $6,000 Robert Lauch Memorial Endowment Fund Award, which was supplemented in 2016 by the Verena Kossodo Memorial Award. Schutza has been noted for his “clarity of tone” and “ringing high notes” (Opera).  He began the 2016-17 season with his role debut as Manrico in Il Trovatore with The Astoria Music Festival and covered Florestan in Fidelio at the Caramoor Festival.  A two time Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Arizona District), as well as a Regional Finalist, Mr. Schutza also sang Manrico at Portland’s Summerfest.  In the 2016-17 season he makes his Carnegie Hall debut as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony; he returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Salome, and sings Mozart’s Requiem with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic.
Soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra of Mansfield Township, New Jersey, received the Ursula Springer Memorial Endowment Fund Award of $3,000.  Shoremount-Obra made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2014 as First Lady in Die Zauberflöte. She was featured in SoundBite in the May 2016 issue of Opera News. Recent  engagements have included Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Opera Las Vegas, The Savannah Voice Festival, and Venture Opera; Marchesa (Un Giorno di Regno) with Odyssey Opera of Boston; Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte) with Annapolis Opera; and Leonore (Fidelio) with Grand Harmonie. She has appeared at Carnegie Hall as the soprano soloist in Fauré's Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, and Schubert’s Mass in G. She made her David Geffen Hall debut with the National Chorale as the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem. For the 2016-17 season, engagements include a concert appearance at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ; roles in NabuccoDie Zauberflöte  and Don Giovanni at the Met; and two new operas for Opera America’s New Opera Showcase; a concert with violinist Eric Silberger in Portland, OR; and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the New Choral Society.  She was a national semi-finalist and NY regional winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has degrees from Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School.

The following singers received grants:
Soprano Helena Brown of Brooklyn, N.Y., received a $2,000 Encouragement Grant. Brown will appear at Sarasota Opera, covering Madame Lidoine and the Old Prioress in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and at the Glimmerglass Festival, singing the Queen of England in The Siege of  Calais and covering Serena in Porgy and Bess. Recent appearances include Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible at the Glimmerglass Festival and Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos at Minnesota Opera. She holds a Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor’s degree in Music from Hollins University. She is an encouragement grant awardee for the Metropolitan Opera National Council's Philadelphia District,  alternate winner in Manhattan School of Music's Eisenberg Fried Concerto Competition for Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, a semifinalist in the 2016 Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and a finalist in Opera Ebony's 2014 Benjamin Matthews Competition. 
   ·    Soprano Ashley Curling of Roswell, Georgia, a second-time recipient, received a $1,000 encouragement grant. Curling appeared with LoftOpera as Dama di Lady in their recent production of Macbeth. Last season she covered Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Venture Opera, was the soprano soloist in Lancaster Symphony's Mozart Coronation Mass, and sang the title role of Suor Angelica with Trentino Music Festival and the role of the Marschallin in Harrower Opera's production of Der Rosenkavalier. She was a Metropolitan Opera regional finalist for the New Orleans District.
   ·    Soprano Alicia Jayourba of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a second-time recipient, received a $1,000 study grant. Jayourba recently performed the role of Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw with the Miami Music Festival, Magda Sorel in The Consul with Harrower Opera, and The Mother in  Hänsel und Gretel with CoOPERAtive.  Other credits include Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, the title role in La Navarraise, Love Simpson in Cold Sassy Tree (under composer Carlisle Floyd’s direction) in mainstage productions with the Florida State University Opera. She was a soloist in Dvorák's Stabat Mater at the Musikverein in Vienna and Dvorák Hall in Prague.   Adjudicating judges were conductor Eve Queler; Cori Ellison, Glyndebourne Festival dramaturg and Juilliard School faculty member; Ken Benson, voice consultant and manager; and Scott Carlton, New York City-based voice teacher and coach and member of the Bayreuth Festival Chorus from 2003-2013.

   The WSNY, celebrating its 40th year in 2017, is the largest Wagner Society in North America.

2015 Awards and Grants to Nine Singers

  New York, October 18, 2015 -- Nine young singers with Wagnerian potential were recipients of the annual awards and grants from the Wagner Society of New York, as announced by Scott Carlton, Singers Committee Chairman.
Clay Hilley, tenor, is the winner of the top award of $6,000, the Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Endowment Award. Hilley, a Georgia native, has  Bachelor's and  Master's degrees in music from the University of Georgia,  a professional studies certificate from Manhattan School of Music, and a Performer's Certificate from the Opera Institute at Boston University. His 2015-2016 appearances include Siegfried in Götterdämmerung (Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis), Radames in Aida at Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Southwest. In April of 2016 he will appear with the Grand Junction (Colorado) Symphony Orchestra as tenor soloist for Verdi's Requiem, and he will perform Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer in November of 2016 with Austin Lyric Opera. Added Feb. 2016:  He recently was the cover for the title role in the Canadian Opera Company's performances of Siegfried. He will make his European debut in the summer of 2016 singing the title role of Idomeneo with Mainfranken Theater Würzburg and he has been invited to sing Canio in Virginia Opera's  Pagliacci in October. 
   ·    Soprano Sarai Elizabeth Cole, of Horsham, PA, received the $3,000 Ursula Springer Memorial Fund Award. Her recent appearances include Mimi in La Boheme and Leonora in Il Trovatore with Center Stage Opera of Harrisburg, PA, the title role in Suor Angelica with Chicago Summer Opera, and Santuzza with The Opera Project.

TThe following singers received grants:
   ·    $2,000 study grant to tenor Obed Floan, tenor from Hallock, Minn. He has performed Florestan, Laça in Janácek's Jenufa, the Second Nazarene in Strauss' Salome with Minnesota Opera, Parpignol in Puccini's La Bohème and The Chaplain in Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (this with Des Moines Metro Opera).  He is a graduate of Jane Eaglen’s Wagner Intensive Program and there performed excerpts of roles including the title roles of Siegfried, Tannhäuser, and Tristan.
   ·    $1,500 encouragement grant to soprano Ashley Curling, of New York City. Recent appearances include the title role in Suor Angelica at the Trentino Music Festival, the Marschallin at Harrower Opera of Atlanta, and as soloist with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and the Miami Chamber Orchestra.  She was a Metropolitan Opera regional finalist for the New Orleans District.
   ·    $1,000 encouragement grant to soprano Leah Schenck-Crowne, of New York City. Recent appearances include the title role in  Turandot with Opera Fort Collins and a reprise of the role in 2015 with the Opera Company of Middlebury. She recently sang excerpts from the roles of Salome in Massenet’s Herodiade and Giulietta in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, in Bezier, France, and covered the title role in Tosca and Elisabeth in Verdi’s Don Carlos at Sarasota Opera.
   ·    $1,000 encouragement grant to soprano Alicia Jayourba, of Pittsburgh, PA. Recent appearances include Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Anita in Massenet’s La Navarraise, and Love Simpson in Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree with Florida State University Opera.  She was soloist in Dvorák’s Stabat Mater at the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria and Dvorák Hall in Prague.
   ·    $1,000 encouragement grant to soprano Terina Westmeyer, of Martinsburg, W. Va. Past winner of an Encouragement Award for the Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists. In January 2015 she sang Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Bronx Opera. At the 2013 Baldwin-Wallace Wagner Intensive, Ms. Westmeyer sang excerpts from Götterdämmerung.  She performed Agathe in Der Freischütz, La Badessa in Suor Angelica, and Sarah in The Ballad of Baby Doe at Chelsea Opera.  She also studied at Actors Studio Drama School.
   ·    $1,000 encouragement grant to baritone Barry L. Robinson, of New York City. He recently made his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, and sang the role of Fojo in the revival of Harry Lawrence Freeman’s Voodoo at the Miller Theater of Columbia University. Other roles include Leporello and Don Alfonso, as well as the Count and as Figaro in  Le Nozze di Figaro.
   ·    $1,000 encouragement grant to mezzo-soprano Marianna Vikse, of Staten Island, NY. She recently debuted as Carmen with the Teatropera Festival Opera Company in Tolentino, Italy.  She sang selections from Samson et Dalila in concert.  She will return in 2016 to Tolentino to perform Amneris.  Upcoming performances  include Meg Page in Falstaff with Delaware Opera and Tigrana in Puccini's Edgar with Baltimore Concert Opera.

Scott Carlton, New York City-based voice teacher and coach and member of the Bayreuth Festival Chorus from 2003-2013, chaired the adjudicating panel, which consisted of Shirley Close, international mezzo-soprano and professor of voice at Florida State University; conductor Eve Queler; Robert Lombardo, artists’ manager and partner at Robert Lombardo Associates; and Carlton. The awards are funded by members who established the Robert Lauch Memorial Endowed Fund,  the Ursula Springer Endowed Fund, and a matching fund of the WSNY, with additional grants supported by member contributions. Auditions are by invitation only and are conducted annually. The WSNY celebrated its 38th year in 2015, and is the largest Wagner Society in North America.

Nine Young Wagnerians Receive 2014 Awards from Wagner Society of New York

  NEW YORK, October 23, 2014 -- Nine young singers with Wagnerian potential have received  awards and grants from the Wagner Society of New York.
Tenor Ric Furman received the top award of $4,000, the Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Endowment Award, said Scott Carlton, WSNY Singers Committee chairman. Soprano Jennifer Diane Behnke, received the $2,500 EugeneBrister Memorial Award. The Brister Award honors the longtime former chairman of the Singers Committee, who died  this year. He did a great deal to further the careers of young singers. Mr. Furman and Ms. Behnke will be presented at the Society's annual Holiday Recital on Jan. 4., 2015, at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the Y (10 West 64th Street), Manhattan.

Ric Furman is a native of Macomb, Ill., and made his debut as a dramatic tenor as Florestan with the Seattle Opera, where he also appeared as Froh. In 2015 he will make his German debut as Erik and Pinkerton in Wiesbaden, and will sing Anatol in Barber’s Vanessa in Hagen.  He will sing the role of Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in Seattle in 2015.  He is an alumnus of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Western Illinois University.
   ·    JenniferDiane Behnke was born in Highland Lakes, N. J. and is a graduate of the Eastman School and Manhattan School of Music. She has sung a varied repertory, ranging from Elsa and Sieglinde to the Female Chorus in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia. She participated in Jane Eaglen’s Wagner Intensive Program as well as the Johanna Meier Opera Theatre Intensive.

Three Ursula Springer Fund Awards of $1,000 each were given to sopranos Shareese Arnold, Amanda Zory, and mezzo-soprano Milica Nikcevic.
   ·    ShareeseArnold is a native of Sheffield, Ala. Recent appearances include the Marschallin and Agathe with the Converse College/Petrie School of Music Opera Theatre, as well as performing the soprano solo in Brahms’ Requiem and Britten’s World of the Spirit at Indiana University.
   ·    Amada Zory is a native of Deer Park, Long Island. She studied at the Juilliard School, Ithaca College and Hunter College. She has sung a varied repertory, including workshop performances as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, and as Donna Anna.
   ·    MilicaNikcevic, a native of Milwaukee, Wis., has performed with local opera companies and in workshop as Carmen, La Cieca in La Gioconda, and the Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica. In November 2014 she will appear locally as Baba in The Mediumand, as Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera. February 2014 saw her film debut in Matthew Barney’s “River of Fundament”, starring Paul Giamatti, Maggie Gyllenhall, Ellen Burstyn and Elaine Stritch.

WSNY study grants went to soprano Natalie Bergeron, a nativeof Birmingham, Al, soprano Sarai Johnson, a native of Pasadena, Ca, tenor Brent Reilly Turner, who grew up in Ovieda, Fl, and soprano Terina Westmeyer, a native of Martinsburg, W.V. Judges were conductor Eve Queler, mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn, artists manager Ken Benson, and Scott Carlton. The WSNY, which was founded in 1977, is the largest Wagner Society in North America.

June 2013: WSNY Gives $12,000 in Awards, Grants to Young Singers

  The Wagner Society of New York gave two awards and six  study grants totaling $12,000 to eight young singers with Wagnerian potential. Robert Lauch Memorial Fund awards were given to bass-baritone Jason Grant in the amount of $3,000,  and to soprano Felicia Moore, $2,000, said Scott Carlton, WSNY Singers Committee chairman.
Mr. Grant is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center and Eastman School of Music and  is an alumnus of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program and the Merola Program of San Francisco Opera. He sang for seven seasons with New York City Opera. Roles have included Dulcamara in Jonathan Miller's production of "L'elisir d'amore" and Leporello in "Don Giovanni".  Future appearances include a return to Dallas Opera in "Salome".
Ms. Moore was a national semi-finalist this year in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a winner of the George London Award. She has a master's degree from Mannes College and studies with Ruth Falcon and Lucy Arner. She has performed with Nevada Opera and at Spoleto Festival, and will perform scenes at Crested Butte Music Festival as a Marcello Giordani Young Artist.
    A study grant of $2,000 went to Celeste Siciliano, and grants of $1,000 each, to sopranos Natalie Bergeron and Sarah Heltzel, tenors Obed Floan and Mauricio Trej,o and mezzo-soprano Milica Nikcevic.  The study grants were made possible by a much-appreciated gift from WSNY charter member Verena Kossodo.
The adjudicating panel panel for the May auditions consisted of mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn, conductor Eve Queler, consultant Ken Benson and Mr. Carlton.
The 35-year-old Wagner Society of New York is the largest in North America. It presents an annual recital featuring some of the grantees.

WSNY Endowed Awards and Grants to Young Singers
  WSNY's Endowed Awards arefunded by Society members who established the Robert Lauch Endowed Fund, the Ursula Springer Endowed Fund, and a matching fund of the WSNY. Grants are supported by member contributions. Wagner Society of New York has given a total of $33,000 in the past season to aid singers with Wagnerian potential.

Scott Carlton, WSNY Singers Committee chairman, New York City-based voice teacher and coach and member of the Bayreuth Festival Chorus since 2003, chairs the adjudicating panels. Singer Awards are made to performers up to age 40. Auditions are by invitation only and are conducted annually. "We are pleased by the quality of these singers, and glad that we can help them develop their promise. They are after all an investment in the future of Wagnerian performance, and many earlier grantees now are performing on major stages." said WSNY President Nathalie D. Wagner.

June 2012: WSNY Awards $16,000 in Grants to Eight Young Singers

The awardees were:

Amy Louise Yekel, soprano, of North Canton, Ohio, $5,000 Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Award

Issachah Savage, tenor, of Washington, D.C., $3,000 Ursula Springer Award

Kevin Ray, tenor, West Point, N.Y., $2,000 Ursula Springer Award

$1,500 encouragement grants were awarded to Obed Floan, tenor, Oklahoma City, Okla., and bass-baritone John Dominick III, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

$1,000 study grants were awarded to three mezzo-sopranos: Joanna Dionis, Brooklyn, N.Y., Sarah Heltzel, New York, NY, and Milica Nikcevic, Astoria, N.Y.

The adjudicating panel consisted of Mr. Benson, Ms. Dunn, and Eve Queler, conductor laureate of Opera Orchestra of New York, and Mr. Carlton.

November2011: WSNY Awards $12,000 in Grants to Seven Young Singers

The awardees were:

Adam Laurence Herskowitz, tenor, of Staten Island, N.Y., $5,000 Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Award

$1,500 encouragement grants went to soprano Hope Osborn, Princeton, N.J.; and tenor Phillip Webb, Valencia, Calif.

$1,000 study grants to tenor Kevin Ray, West Point, N.Y., soprano Amy Louise Yekel, North Canton, Ohio, bass-baritone John Dominick III, Mamaroneck, N.Y., and tenor Jeffrey Michael Hartman, Natick, Mass.

In addition, a one-time scholarship grant of $2,800 was given to the Wagner Intensive Program of Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio (a summer program  directed by Jane Eaglen and Dr. Timothy Mussard), and travel and role-preparation grants were given to previous recipients.
The adjudicating panel consisted of Ken Benson, New York-based vocal consultant; Shirley Close, international mezzo-soprano and assistant professor of voice at Florida State University; renowned mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn; and Mr. Carlton.

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