The Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners Tour to Four U.S. Cities in March 2017

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The Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners Tour to Four U.S. Cities in March 2017

Santa Barbara, CA — Since 1997, the Music Academy of the West has proudly hosted the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, the nation’s premier competition focusing on the art of the song recital. The winners of the 2016 competition are baritone Ben Lowe and pianist Madeline Slettedahl, who will each receive the Regina Roney Prize of $4,000, and together will be presented in a national recital tour in March to Houston, Santa Barbara, Chicago and New York City. The Chicago performance will be broadcast live on WFMT radio, and the New York performance will be at the National Opera Center. Additionally, the two musicians will receive coaching from Marilyn Horne and the Academy Voice Program faculty artists, as well as professional photos and consultations with New York-based communications firm 21C Media Group.

Lowe and Slettedahl will perform an all-English language program for the tour that features music of Barber, Holst, Ireland, William Bolcom, Moses Hogan, and Music Academy 2017 Mosher Guest Artist Matthew Aucoin. Admission for these events will be free in Houston and NYC, and affordably priced at $10 in Santa Barbara, with 7-17 year olds admitted free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. The competition and winner’s recital tour has been generously supported by The Little One and The Lucky One Foundations.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners

Ben Lowe, baritone (’16), 31, born in Anchorage, Alaska, is a graduate of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, where he studied under Vladimir Chernov. Mr. Lowe received his undergraduate degree in music from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He was the 2014 Winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon Performance Scholarship Competition and was a Finalist in the 2014 Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition. Mr. Lowe has been a featured soloist in many concert venues around the greater Los Angeles area, including Our Lady of Angels Cathedral, the Broad Stage, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Mr. Lowe studied with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West, where he performed the role of Bonobo in the West Coast premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Second Nature. Lowe’s winning performance at the Marilyn Horne Song Competition can be seen here.

Madeline Slettedahl, piano (’16), 24, born in Seattle, Washington, earned her master’s degree at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in 2016. Ms. Slettedahl has worked with the Marrowstone Festival and Western Washington University, made her collaborative debut with the Icicle Creek Chamber Players, and premiered a work written for her by Roger Briggs. She was rehearsal pianist for The Bartered Bride at Music Academy of the West under the baton of Matthew Aucoin, and for Opera in the Heights productions of Menotti’s The Telephone and The Medium. She most recently participated in Carnegie Hall’s 2017 The Song Continues series in masterclasses by Marilyn Horne, Margo Garrett, and Dame Felicity Lott. Ms. Slettedahl begins a two-year residency with the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago this May. Slettedahl’s winning performance at the Marilyn Horne Song Competition can be seen here.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition

The Horne Competition, which uniquely awards equal prizes to pianists and singers, is presented in memory of longtime Music Academy faculty artist Gwendolyn Koldofsky, one of the great teachers of collaborative piano of the 20th century. Joining world-renowned concert and opera singer Marilyn Horne as jurors were Margo Garrett, chair of the collaborative piano department at the University of Minnesota; Barbara Hocher, former Executive Director of the Marilyn Horne Foundation and a past juror for the Metropolitan Opera National Council; Nicholas Mathias, Global Artistic Management Consultant with IMG Artists in the London office; and Emmanuel Villaume, Music Director of the Dallas Opera and Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia.

The competition helps to launch the careers of promising young opera singers and pianists. Previous Marilyn Horne Song Competition vocal winners are performing leading and featured roles in major opera houses around the globe. In the United States, winners have performed at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, and Los Angeles Opera, among others. Past winners have included Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard and San Francisco Opera star Nadine Sierra. Winning pianists include Steinway Artist Spencer Myer, Los Angeles Opera assistant conductor Nino Sanikidze, and international concert pianist and Laureate Award winner Carol Wong.

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classically trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished roster of teaching artists has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians. The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, many of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2017 Summer School and Festival takes place from June 12 to August 5 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit

High-resolution photos may be downloaded here.

Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners Recital Tour

Ben Lowe, baritone

Madeline Slettedahl, piano


IRELAND Songs of the Sea

HOLST Vedic Hymns

BARBER James Joyce Songs

MATTHEW AUCOIN Three Whitman Songs

HOGAN Gospel Songs: Give Me Jesus; Deep River; He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands


Program is subject to change.

Thu, Mar 9, 12:15 pm

Houston, TX

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street

Free Admission

Sat, Mar 11, 7 pm

Santa Barbara, CA

Hahn Hall, 1070 Fairway Road

$10 / 7-17 year olds Free (with ticketed adult)

Tue, Mar 14, 1 pm

Chicago, IL

WFMT, 5400 N St. Louis Avenue

Live Broadcast

Fri, Mar 17, 7 pm

National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York City

Free Admission


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