October 14, 2015: The 2015 Kurt Weill Prize for an outstanding book on music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, by Alisa Solomon, published by Metropolitan Books, 2013. This thoroughly researched and compellingly crafted book traces how and why the story of Tevye the milkman, the creation of the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, was reborn as blockbuster entertainment and a cultural touchstone, not only for Jews and not only in America. Adjudicated by a panel of distinguished scholars, the award carries with it a cash prize of $5,000. The panelists commented, "Every page of Solomon's prose is an object lesson proving that research skills and engaging expository writing are not mutually exclusive. Wonder of Wonders is the kind of sorely needed book that can both appeal to academic audiences and recruit new readers interested in legitimate theater."
Garnering wide acclaim, Wonder of Wonders also received the Jewish Journal Book Award, the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association, and the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History honorable mention. Solomon is Professor and Director of the Concentration in Arts M.A. Program at Columbia University School of Journalism.
The $2,000 prize for an article recognized "'Vindication, Cleansing, Catharsis, Hope': Interracial Reconciliation and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism in Kay and Dorr's Jubilee (1976)," by Emily Abrams Ansari, published in American Music in 2013. The prize panelists noted that Ansari's work "forces some profound--if at times uncomfortable--questions about art and politics in a difficult decade, and also about just what it might mean to write an 'American' opera. Ansari grounds her work deep in the archives, and also supports it with careful critical thinking. This is a truly impressive article that has already made a significant impact on the field." Ansari is Assistant Professor in Music History at the University of Western Ontario. The article also received an ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award.
September 15, 2015: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music is now accepting applications for its 2016 Grant Program. The KWF Grant Program awards financial support worldwide to not-for-profit organizations for performances of musical works by Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein, to individuals and not-for-profit organizations for scholarly research pertaining to Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, and Marc Blitzstein, and to not-for-profit organizations for relevant educational or scholarly initiatives. Applications are now being accepted for performances and initiatives occurring between 1 January 2016 and 1 July 2017.
Funding is awarded in the following categories:
All application materials must be received by 1 November 2015 to be considered. Applications for support of major professional productions/festivals/exhibitions, etc. may be evaluated on rolling basis throughout the year.
In addition to its established Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Foundation cultivates relationships with professional arts organizations and leading educational institutions in connection with major projects and initiatives. Organizations may approach the Foundation with ideas for major projects, and the Foundation may on occasion present proposals to the organizations. Collaborative projects are developed through extended discussion between the Foundation and the organizations, and the Foundation provides substantial funding in order to make them possible.
About the Grant Program
The grant program was established in the service of the Foundation's mission to promote and perpetuate the legacies of Weill and Lenya. Since 1984 independent grant panels have recommended, and the Board of Trustees has awarded, more than 500 grants and $3,000,000 to organizations and scholars worldwide in support of excellence in the presentation and study of Kurt Weill's compositions. In 2013, Marc Blitzstein's compositions became eligible for support.
September 10, 2015: The Kurt Weill Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Adam Turner as the inaugural recipient of the Julius Rudel/Kurt Weill Conducting Fellowship. In keeping with Maestro Rudel's artistic vision, this annual award enables a young conductor in the early stages of a career to assist a conductor in the preparation and performance of a work by Kurt Weill or Marc Blitzstein and expand his or her knowledge of the works of Weill and Blitzstein. The fellowship carries a stipend of $10,000.
Turner, age 32, currently serves as the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor at Virginia Opera, where he has garnered critical acclaim for the breadth of his repertoire, artistic vision, and polished technique. He says of his appointment, "To be closely associated with the enduring legacies of Julius Rudel and Kurt Weill is an exceptional distinction for which I am deeply honored. I look forward to the opportunities of the year ahead." Turner will serve as cover conductor under John DeMain for the upcoming Washington National Opera production of Weill's Lost in the Stars, during the February 2016 run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. DeMain says, "Adam Turner is a brilliant young conductor, with one foot in opera and another in musical theater. His involvement with Lost in the Stars at this level will allow him to bring all his talents to the production and encourage him to take on the stylistic complexities of other Weill works in the future."
DeMain was himself a recipient of the New York City Opera's Julius Rudel Award, which granted him an apprenticeship there. "It provided an opportunity to learn a variety of aspects of artistic direction and programming beyond just being Julius's assistant," DeMain recalls. "And his knowledge of Weill made his performances of those works stunning." Rudel was an avid promoter of Weill's works during his long career. He served as a trustee of the Foundation from 1980 to 2008.
Kim H. Kowalke, President of the Foundation, says of the award, "This fellowship has been established in recognition of Julius's enormous contributions to musical theater in its broadest definition and in particular to the development of American opera for more than fifty years. It is so fitting that Turner will serve as cover conductor for Lost in the Stars, a work which Rudel introduced to the City Opera repertoire in 1958 and subsequently recorded. Fifty years later, it was the last work by Weill that Rudel conducted."
Lost in the Stars runs at the WNO February 12-20, 2016, in a revival of Tazewell Thompson's 2012 Glimmerglass Opera production, and will feature many of the same artists, including Eric Owens in the lead role and tenor Sean Panikkar. Lauren Michelle, winner of the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition, will play Irina. Lost in the Stars anchors a 2015/16 DC-area season chock full of major performances of Weill and Blitzstein, including The Threepenny Opera at American University (October 15-24); Street Scene at the Peabody Institute (November 13-15); Blitzstein's Regina at University of Maryland, College Park (April 8-16); The Seven Deadly Sins at National Symphony Orchestra (April 28-30) and a staged performance thereof by Virginia Opera (September 30-October 4, with Turner conducting).
September 10, 2015: In an effort to capitalize on the increasing popularity of Weill's music and the organization's expanding financial resources, the Kurt Weill Foundation is pleased to announce the appointments of Harvey Rosenstein as Director of Promotional Activities and Elizabeth Blaufox as Associate Director of Programs and Promotion. They join long-time staff member Brady Sansone, recently promoted to Director of Programs and Business Affairs, to form the core team entrusted with carrying out this Board-directed mandate. These appointments mark a new phase in the Foundation's pursuit of its mission, with expansion of existing programs and new initiatives that increase charitable distributions to institutions performing the works of Weill and Blitzstein. It will also provide increased support for nurturing young talent. Foundation President Kim H. Kowalke says, "With these newly created positions, the Foundation has recruited two highly successful and mutually complementary staff members to help position the Foundation’s programs and its promotional efforts at a time of growth and a unique window of opportunity."
Mr. Rosenstein will lead promotional initiatives regarding visibility of the Weill and Marc Blitzstein catalogs; coordinate with international publishing partners, and serve as a resource to artistic directors and administrators. Rosenstein brings to the Kurt Weill Foundation more than thirty years of experience in classical music administration. For fifteen years he has been the promoter and programmer for Latin American concert and recitals tours with International Creative Productions, while simultaneously managing press and public relations at KKN Enterprises. Rosenstein has also worked with Herbert Breslin Artist Management, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Waverly Consort. His love of opera manifested itself at the curious age of five, and his passion for the music of Kurt Weill dates back almost as far. On assuming his new position, Rosenstein comments, "I am thrilled to join the excellent staff and Board of the Kurt Weill Foundation. I look forward to expanding the reach of the Foundation and furthering the musical legacies of Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and Marc Blitzstein."
Ms. Blaufox will spearhead promotional activity related to the Kurt Weill Foundation's grant, prize, and sponsorship programs, including the Lotte Lenya Competition, various fellowship programs, including the newly created Kurt Weill/Julius Rudel Conducting Fellowship; and collaborate on Weill and Blitzstein catalog promotional outreach and program administration. She joins the Foundation from Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers, Inc., where she worked for nearly nine years, most recently as Manager of the Rental Library. An oboist by training, Blaufox received a Master’s degree in Musicology from the City College of New York, where she specialized in twentieth century music with an emphasis on the intersection between music and political ideology. She says of her new position, "Kurt Weill and his music lie right at the confluence of my particular area of personal and scholarly interest. Joining the KWF will allow me to combine my background in music publishing and arts administration with this field of expertise."
April 21,2015: In a record-breaking year for the number of prizes and total cash awarded, Lauren Michelle, of Los Angeles, won the $15,000 First Prize in the finals of the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition, sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and held on April 18, 2015, in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Robin Bailey, of London, U.K., and Jordan Davidson, of Philadelphia, N.Y., both won Second Prizes of $10,000, and two Third Prizes of $7,500 each were awarded to Adam Fieldson, of Lincoln, Neb., and Michael Maliakel, of New York.
"The judges found it difficult to choose only three top winners because of the consistently high level of talent, versatility, and preparation of all the finalists," said Kim H. Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation and founder of the Competition. "I'm so glad that the Foundation had the resources to enhance the amounts awarded. In addition to giving five top prizes and special awards, we decided on the spot to double the amount that the remaining finalists received to $2,000 each." The Kurt Weill Foundation distributed a total of $85,500 in prizes this year.
The panel of judges included three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, British opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Rodgers & Hammerstein President and American Theatre Wing Vice-Chairman Theodore S. Chapin. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 225 contestants later narrowed to 28 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Judith Blazer and Andy Einhorn.
Each of the 14 finalists presented four selections ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary musical theater. Michelle impressed the judges and audience with her powerful performance of a diverse program composed of "My Own Morning" from Hallelujah, Baby, "Denn wie mann sich bettet" from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, "I'll Be Here" from Ordinary Days, and "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess. The audience acknowledged her with a standing ovation when she received her award. Michelle will represent the United States in the 2015 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest.
Discretionary $3,500 Lys Symonette Awards for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number went to Talya Lieberman, of Queens, N.Y., for "Non, monsieur mon mari," from Les mamelles de Tirésias and Florian Peters of Köln, Germany, for "Bilbao Song" from Happy End. Briana Silvie Gantsweg, of Brooklyn, N.Y., won a special $3,500 Carolyn Weber Award for her creative programming and sensitivity to text-music relationships. The remaining finalists, who each received an award of $2,000, were: Anthony Heinemann, of St. Louis, Mo.; Carter Lynch, of New York; Katherine Riddle, of Annapolis, Md.; Jim Schubin, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Annie Sherman, of Los Angeles; and Christine Cornish Smith, of New York.
Now in its 18th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes exceptionally talented singer/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $700,000 in prize money to outstanding young performers and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.
Previous Lenya Competition winners enjoy successful careers performing in major theaters and opera houses around the globe. Their recent and upcoming credits range from Broadway (Lauren Worsham [Tony nomination], Amy Justman, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder; Analisa Leaming, On the Twentieth Century; Kyle Scatliffe, Les Misérables), National Tours (Cooper Grodin, Katie Travis, Amy Justman, The Phantom of the Opera; Doug Carpenter, Dirty Dancing; Maria Failla, Evita; Jacob Keith Watson, Chicago), and regional theaters (Erik Liberman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, La Jolla Playhouse and Paper Mill Playhouse; Ariela Morgenstern, Next to Normal, Baltimore Center Stage) to major opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera (Ginger Costa-Jackson), San Francisco Opera (Matthew Grills), Los Angeles Opera (Liam Bonner, Jonathan Michie, Lauren Worsham), Glimmerglass Festival (Ben Edquist, Maren Weinberger), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and English National Opera (Noah Stewart), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Edward Mout), Oper Frankfurt (Elizabeth Reiter), Dutch National Opera (Rebecca Jo Loeb), and Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie (Justin Hopkins). Concert highlights include Sweeney Todd (Zachary James, Justin Lee Miller) and Show Boat (Lauren Worsham) with the New York Philharmonic and the upcoming U.S. premiere of The Road of Promise, a concert adaptation of Kurt Weill and Franz Werfel's The Eternal Road (Justin Hopkins, Megan Marino, Lauren Michelle) with The Collegiate Chorale and Orchestra of St. Luke's on May 6-7, 2015, at Carnegie Hall.
Click on the image below for a printable image of the top five prizewinners:
Caption: 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition winners (L to R): Robin Bailey, Jordan Davidson, Lauren Michelle, Michael Maliakel, Adam Fieldson. Photo by Nadine Photography, provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation.
Click on the image below for a printable image of the three award winners:
Click on the image below for a printable image of the judges with First Prize winner Lauren Michelle:
Caption: 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition judges and First Prize winner (L to R): James Holmes, Lauren Michelle, Rebecca Luker, Theodore S. Chapin. Photo by Nadine Photography, provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation.