Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota’s 2016 National Competition for Voice April 16 § Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center; Twelve young singers from around the country will compete for prestigious recognition and thousands of dollars in prize money during this evening musical event. Judges include legendary tenor George Shirley; Mikael Eliasen, artistic director and dean of vocal studies at the Curtis Institute of Music; and distinguished soprano Irene Gubrud. Nearly $24,000 will be awarded to the winning contestants and semi-finalists

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Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota’s

2016 National Competition for Voice

April 16 § Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center

Twelve young singers from around the country will compete for prestigious recognition and thousands of dollars in prize money during this evening musical event. Judges include legendary tenor George Shirley; Mikael Eliasen, artistic director and dean of vocal studies at the Curtis Institute of Music; and distinguished soprano Irene Gubrud. Nearly $24,000 will be awarded to the winning contestants and semi-finalists.

 

(Sarasota, FL) Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presents the 2016 National Competition for Voice, Saturday, April 16, at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail. The finals competition begins at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. For more information or to order tickets, call 941-306-1202 or visit www.artistseriesconcerts.org.

Since its inception in 2007, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota’s statewide young musician’s competition has become one of the most prestigious competitions in Florida, awarding nearly $250,000 to 66 talented young musicians in nine years. Past winners have gone on to study at leading music conservatories and pursued successful music careers. The competition rotates each year between singers, pianists, and string instrument players. Last year, to mark the organization’s 20th anniversary, the competition expanded from a state-wide to national competition—open to young musicians, ages 18 to 28, who live in the United States.

“Over the years we’ve been fortunate to have renowned music professionals judge our competitions, which has attracted the interest of students far beyond the borders of our state,” says Lee Dougherty Ross, director of competitions and community outreach for Artist Series Concerts. “We decided that our 20th anniversary was the perfect time to celebrate the program by opening it to young people from across the country.”

According to Dougherty Ross, 66 young musicians from 16 states submitted applications for the 2016 competition. “Many students who applied are studying at the nation’s top music conservatories,” says Dougherty Ross. “We received applications from students at Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Academy of Vocal Arts, among others.”

This year, 12 young vocalists, six in the Young Artist level (ages 18-21) and six in the Artist level (22-28) will compete in the semi-final round. Of these, three in each level will continue to the final round. The finalists are then presented in an evening public performance and judged by a panel of distinguished musicians and educators. This year’s esteemed judges include legendary tenor George Shirley, recipient of a National Medal of Arts presented by President Barak Obama in September 2015; Mikael Eliasen, artistic director and dean of vocal studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; and distinguished soprano Irene Gubrud, a first-prize winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Voice Competition. Nearly $24,000 will be awarded to the winning contestants and semi-finalists. See bios below.

“Our adjudicators are all brilliant music educators and musicians,” says Dougherty Ross. “Being judged and counseled by such celebrated educators is exciting and an honor that will stay with the performers their whole lives.” Dougherty Ross adds that the prize winners will be announced following the final performance.

For more information about the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota’s 2014-2015 season, visit www.artistseriesconcerts.org or call 941-306-1202.

 

About the Judges

Dr. George Shirley

Dr. George Shirley is one of America’s most versatile tenors. He is in demand nationally and internationally as a performer, teacher, and lecturer. Shirley has performed more than 80 operatic roles over the span of his 55-year career, as well as oratorio, recital, and concert literature with some of the world’s most renowned conductors and accompanists. A graduate of Wayne (State) University, Shirley was the first African-American to be appointed to a high school teaching position in music in Detroit, and the first African-American member of the United States Army Chorus in Washington, DC. He was the first African-American tenor and second African-American male to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained for 11 years as leading artist.

Shirley began his full academic career as professor of voice at the University of Maryland in 1980. He was subsequently selected one of the university’s Distinguished Scholar-Teachers for the school year 1985-86. He remained at Maryland until he accepted an appointment to the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music in 1987. In 1992, the University of Michigan Board of Regents named George Shirley The Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Professor of Music. In 1999, Shirley was appointed Director of the Vocal Arts Division of the School of Music.

Shirley served during the summer months from 1988 until 1998 as a member of the performance faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado, where he taught voice and assisted Edward Berkeley, director of the Opera Theater, in staging scenes for the opera workshop. Shirley was granted emeritus status upon his retirement from The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance in May, 2007. He continues to teach on a part-time basis at the school as well as privately. In 2014, the George Shirley Award for Excellence in Opera Performance was created by Dr. Lester Monts, Vice-Provost of the university, as a commencement award to be granted in perpetuity to a graduating student identified by the voice faculty as having consistently demonstrated outstanding potential for a professional career.

An unflagging advocate for music education, Shirley loses no opportunity to articulate his arguments in support of maintaining meaningful and effective music curricula in the nation’s primary and secondary schools. His article. “Music Education in Detroit’s Public Schools: The Struggle to Survive,” published in the June 9, 2010 NewMusicBox online journal of the American Music Center, received the 2011 ASCAP Deems Taylor Competition Award. At the 2014 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Convention in Boston, Shirley received the NATS Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the teaching profession.

 

Mikael Eliasen, Artistic Director and Dean of Vocal Studies at the Curtis Opera Theatre

Danish-born coach and accompanist Mikael Eliasen received his early training in Copenhagen, Montreal, and Vienna. He has collaborated with numerous singers in recital worldwide and has given master classes around the world. Eliasen has a long association with the young-artist programs at the Royal Danish Opera and the Opera Studio of Amsterdam. In the United States, he works regularly at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera; and is artistic advisor to Opera Philadelphia. He has recorded for Albany Records, CBC, Hilversum Radio, Polish State Radio, Kol Israel, Irish Radio and Television, London Records, MHS, and Supraphon. Eliasen was music director of the San Francisco Opera Center from 1994 to 1996 and artistic director of the European Center for Opera and Vocal Art in Belgium from 1984 to 1994. For 20 years he has taught at Chautauqua’s Voice Program during the summers. In 2013 he was appointed artistic adviser to Opera Philadelphia. Eliasen leads the Young Artist Voice Program as part of Curtis Summerfest 2016. Mr. Eliasen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986, where he serves as artistic director and dean of vocal studies at the Curtis Opera Theatre.

 

Irene Gubrud, Soprano

Irene Gubrud has performed with every major American symphony orchestra and with many of the greatest European ensembles at the request of such prestigious conductors as Leinsdorf, Maazel, Boulez, Ormandy and Slatkin. Her opera appearances include Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, first staged for her at the Central City Opera by Nathaniel Merrill of the Metropolitan Opera, and in France at the Ravel Festival at the invitation of Pierre Bernac. She has also sung Mimi in La Bohème with Opera St. Paul. Her numerous awards and honors include the First Prize in the prestigious Naumburg International Voice Competition. As part of her award as winner of the Ford Foundation Program for Concert Artists, George Crumb composed Star-Child for her, a 30-minute orchestral piece that she premiered with the New York Philharmonic. Following the performance, the New York Times praised her “most impressive voice. . .and perfect musicianship.” After listening to her singing Mahler’s Fourth Symphony at the Casals Festival in Mexico City, Isaac Stern said, “I salute not only the beauty of her singing, but the beauty, purity and simplicity of her soul.” Engagements at the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers have been regular features of her many recital tours throughout the United States. In conjunction with performances throughout this country she gives master classes in voice, and teaches a course: “Meditation for Optimal Performance.” She has recorded for Musical Heritage, CRI, Delos and Augsburg Fortress. She has been artist-faculty at the Aspen Music Festival and School for 31 years, and is now faculty emeritus. In addition, she was Artist-in-Residence at Washington University, and has taught at Queens College and Columbia University. Currently, she is adjunct faculty at Brooklyn College Conservatory, and maintains a private voice studio in New York City. With her husband Steven Finch, she is co-founder of Sound-Mind Connections, a program based on the new scientific knowledge of the neuroplasticity of the brain that teaches how to use music and sound to maintain high levels of cognitive function throughout life.

 

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