Jim Schubin of Plainsboro, NJ, and Brian Vu of Los Angeles both earned top prizes in the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and held on April 16, 2016 in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Schubin and Vu each took home $15,000 for their exceptional displays of vocal and theatrical talent. Nine awards and a total prize purse of $79,000 were given in the Competition’s most competitive year yet.
Dennis Wees of Dallas, TX, the youngest of this year’s finalists at age 21, won the $10,000 Second Prize. Talya Lieberman of New York and Eric Michael Parker of Los Angeles each won a Third Prize of $7,500. Four additional prizes of $3,500 each were granted: Lindsay O’Neil of New York received a Lys Symonette Award; Tom Schimon of Vienna, Austria and Reilly Nelson of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario each received Carolyn Weber Awards; and Bradley Smoak of Cary, NC received the inaugural Marc Blitzstein Award. The remaining five finalists each received $2,000: Curtis Bannister of Green Bay, WI, Erika Cockerham of St. Louis, MO, Tony Potts of Fargo, ND, Briana Silvie of CA, and Kayla Wilkens of Salem, OR.
The panel of judges included international opera star Teresa Stratas,
Rodgers & Hammerstein President Theodore S. Chapin, and Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 224 contestants later narrowed to 31 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Tony Award winners Jeanine Tesori and Victoria Clark. Foundation President and founder of the competition Kim Kowalke said of this year’s competition, “The total amount and number of prizes awarded reflects the high level displayed at this year’s contest. It is a testament to the Competition’s growth over nearly two decades.”
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