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Exceptional Talents Win 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition

Lauren Michelle Wins $15,000 First Prize
Awards Exceed $85,000

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Pictured from left: Robin Bailey, Jordan Davidson, Lauren Michelle, Michael Maliakel, Adam Fieldson.
Photo: Nadine Photography, provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation.
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, held on 18 April 2015, at 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 EndBriana 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 Bethesda, Md.; Katherine Riddle, of Annapolis, Md.; Jim Schubin, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Annie Sherman, of Los Angeles; and Christine Cornish Smith, of New York. More >>
 

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The judges and special award winners (from left): Florian Peters, James Holmes, Rebecca Luker, Theodore S. Chapin, Talya Lieberman, and Briana Silvie Gantsweg. 
​Photo: Nadine Photography, provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation.

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​Obie Awards To Honor Weill and Threepenny Opera


On May 18 at Webster Hall in New York, the 60th Annual Obie Awards, which recognize outstanding achievements in Off-Broadway theater, will highlight Weill’s unique contributions to both Broadway and Off-Broadway musical theater. Weill has the distinction of having won both the first Tony Award for Best Score (Street Scene, 1947) and the first Obie Award for Best Musical (Threepenny Opera, 1956). This year is also the 60th anniversary of the start of the record-breaking run of Marc Blitzstein's English adaptation of Threepenny at the Theater de Lys, which helped establish Off-Broadway as a viable and vibrant alternative to Broadway. The evening, which will be simulcast on a jumbo screen in Times Square, will feature a tribute to Weill and a performance of a song or two from Threepenny.

Performance Spotlights

Lady in the Dark
Lyric Stage, just outside of Dallas in Irving, Texas, offers a rare chance to see Lady in the Dark—the classic hit musical by Weill, Ira Gershwin, and Moss Hart—in a full production with a 30-piece orchestra. Directed by Ann Nieman and conducted by Jay Dias, the Lyric Stage production is the first to try out the newly reconstructed parts from the forthcoming volume of the Kurt Weill Edition. The performances run 24 April - 3 May and star Dallas actress Janelle Lutz as Liza Elliott (pictured at right; photo by Steven Jones). The production and the critical edition are featured in the current issue of American Theatre magazine.

Janelle Lutz in Lady in the Dark

“Exquisite.… The marvelous melding of Weill’s melodies with the wit of lyricist Ira Gershwin and playwright Moss Hart makes this a must-see. The show breaks the rules, and astonishing performances that trouble, stir and refresh the heart prove these three provocative musketeers knew what they were doing.... The radiant Janelle Lutz delivers a dazzling star turn as Liza.”  Dallas Morning News
 
Lady in the Dark is a relic worth revisiting.... The 15 songs by Weill and Gershwin are lavishly and beautifully realized.... However ‘star quality’ is defined, [Janelle] Lutz has it.” - Dallas Observer
The Road of Promise
Don’t miss the U.S. premiere of The Road of Promise at Carnegie Hall on May 6-7! Ed Harsh’s new concert adaptation of Weill and Franz Werfel’s 1937 epic musical spectacle, The Eternal Road, will be performed by the 200-voice Collegiate Chorale, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and a cast featuring Anthony Dean Griffey, Mark Delavan, Philip Cutlip, AJ Glueckert, and Lotte Lenya Competition Winners Lauren Michelle, Megan Marino, and Justin Hopkins, with Ron Rifkin and Eli Tokash in the speaking roles. Ted Sperling conducts and directs; video projection design is by Wendall Harrington.

Watch the Collegiate Chorale's video about the genesis of The Eternal Road and The Road of Promise.

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Street Scene presented by the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. Photo: Mark Lyons
Deadline Reminders

Book Prize Nominations – 30 April

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music invites nominations for the 2015 Kurt Weill Book and Article Prizes, which recognize distinguished scholarship in 20th and 21st century music theater, including opera and dance. Two prizes will be awarded: a cash prize of $5,000 to the author of the winning book entry; and a prize of $2,000 to the author of the winning article entry. Learn more >>

Grant Program – 1 June

The Kurt Weill Foundation 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 initiatives.

The 1 June 2015 deadline is limited exclusively to colleges and universities applying for Performance Grants for productions taking place during the 2015 fall semester. ​
Learn more >>

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The Threepenny Opera at A Noise Within, extended through 24 May. Photo: Craig Schwartz
Upcoming Performances - Highlights

Lady in the Dark              
Lyric Stage, Dallas, TX, USA
Ann Nieman, director; Jay Dias, conductor.
Through 3 May

 
The Threepenny Opera
Clarence Brown Theatre, Knoxville, TN, USA
Calvin MacLean, director.
Through 3 May

 
The Road of Promise
The Collegiate Chorale and Orchestra of St. Luke's, Carnegie Hall, New York, USA
Ted Sperling, conductor.
6-7 May

 
The Threepenny Opera
Kallisti of UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
Ruff Yeager, director; Kyle Adam Blair, conductor.
6, 8-10 May

 
Weill Songs       
Schimmel Center at Pace University, New York, USA
"Far Away Places," Patti LuPone, vocals.
9 May


The Threepenny Opera 
A Noise Within, Pasadena, CA, USA
Geoff Elliott, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, directors.
Extended through 24 May


The Threepenny Opera
New Line Theatre, St. Louis, USA
Scott Miller, director; Jeffrey Carter, conductor. 
28 May - 20 June

KWF Performance Calendar