Header for Cincinnati's 2016 May Festival.

Cincinnati May Festival Features CCM Alumna Tamara Wilson as Guest Artist in Verdi’s Otello

Header for Cincinnati's 2016 May Festival.

As a rising star in the opera world, soprano and CCM alumna Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004) has already amassed an impressive international reputation. Cincinnati residents will have an opportunity to hear her voice again this weekend as she joins the May Festival‘s 2016 line-up!

Soprano Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004).

Soprano Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004).

Wilson, a former student of Barbara Honn and the 2016 winner of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, will return to the Queen City to perform the female lead role of Desdemona in Giuseppe Verdi’s famed opera Otello under the baton of May Festival Music Director James Conlon.

Wilson will be part of a star-studded cast including tenors Gregory Kunde (the 2015 International Opera Awards Male Singer of the Year) and May Festival regular Rodrick Dixon, along with the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The performances starts at 8 p.m. this Saturday, May 21, in Music Hall. Tickets are available online at https://my.cincinnatisymphony.org or by phone at 513-381-3300, so make sure to reserve today to see this rising CCM alumna!

About Tamara Wilson
American soprano Tamara Wilson made her much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera debut in December of 2014 in the title role of Aida, when the New York Times praised the “laserlike authority of her high notes,” and observed: “Her voice blooms with her palpable involvement in her own story: Her singing is urgent, her physical performance restrained yet powerful.”

Nominated for a 2016 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera after her English National Opera debut last fall as Leonora in La forza del destino, the soprano will make further debuts next season at the Bayerischer Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper Berlin. She was a finalist in the 2004 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Grand Prize Winner at Barcelona’s Annual Francisco Viñas Competition, a winner of the George London Award and the recipient of both a 2008 Sara Tucker Study Grant and a 2011 Richard Tucker Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.

After launching the present season headlining Aida at the Aspen Music Festival, Wilson returned to Oper Frankfurt as Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlo; sang Lucrezia in Verdi’s I due Foscari in Santiago, Chile; made her Cleveland Orchestra debut; and joined Marin Alsop for Mahler in São Paulo. Back in the States after touring Japan as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, the soprano looks forward to taking Brahms’s German Requiem on an East Coast tour with Seraphic Fire and singing Desdemona in Otello at Cincinnati’s May Festival, in celebration of James Conlon’s 37th and final year as Music Director. Last season Wilson made her role and house debuts headlining Norma at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, following recent debuts at Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Carnegie Hall. In addition to being a CCM graduate, Wilson is also an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

Learn more about the achievements of CCM’s students and alumni by subscribing to The Village News!
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Story by CCM graduate Kevin Norton (DMA Saxophone, 2015)

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A promotional image for the Animal Mother, a jazz trio comprised of CCM alumni.

CCM Jazz Alumni Receive Glowing Review from the Washington Post

CCM alumni Matt McAllister (BM Jazz Studies, 2013), Josh Kline (BM Jazz Studies, 2015) and Jon Massey (BM Jazz Studies, 2012) have been making waves with their latest musical project, Animal Mother.

In a glowing review of the ensemble’s May 8th performance at the Twins Jazz Club and Lounge in Washington, DC, Washington Post contributor Michael J. West suggests, “(T)hese guys — unlike many declared jazz musicians — had mastered the music’s basic foundation before reimagining it.”

A self-described “garage jazz” band, Animal Mother formed at CCM in 2013 with McAllister on drums, Kline on tenor saxophone and Masey on bass. Initially conceived as an opportunity to practice free improvisation, the ensemble soon began to focus on McAllister’s original compositions. The band released its debut album, The Youth Will Rule!, last year and recently embarked on a tour of the Midwest.

Back at home, Animal Mother has been nominated two years in a row for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the “Best Jazz” category.

“Animal Mother deserves more ears,” West concludes in his review, “not least because they slyly suggest that they have even more musical ingredients than meet the ear.”

You can read the full write-up online at www.washingtonpost.com.

Learn more about the achievements of CCM’s students and alumni by subscribing to The Village News!
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Story by Curt Whitacre

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Lotte Lenya Competition Graphic.

CCM Students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson Win Top Prizes in 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition

We are delighted to report that current CCM students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson took home top prizes during the final round of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition. Sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the prestigious competition was held on April 16 in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Lieberman won a Third Prize, which includes a cash award of $7,500. Nelson received a Carolyn Weber Award in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships, which includes a $3,500 prize.

Nine awards and a total prize purse of $79,000 were given in the competition’s most competitive year yet. 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.”

You can learn more about all of this year’s winners by visiting www.kwf.org.

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Both Lieberman and Nelson also made strong showings in last year’s Lotte Lenya Competition. Nelson advanced to the semifinal round of the competition (along with three other CCM-trained singers), while Lieberman won the Lys Symonette Award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number during 2015’s final round.

Lieberman and Nelson are the latest in a long line of CCM students and alumni who have reached the final rounds of the Lotte Lenya Competition. CCM alumna Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) took Third Prize in the 2013 installment of this prestigious international theatre singing contest. CCM alumna Caitlin Mathes (MM Voice, 2009; Artist Diploma in Opera, 2010) earned First Prize in 2011 and fellow alumna Alisa Suzanne Jordheim (BM Voice, 2008; MM Voice, 2010; DMA candidate) progressed to the final round of the competition that same year.

For this year’s competition, each finalist presented a 15 minute program of four selections in the daytime round. An evening concert followed, in which contestants sang only a segment of their programs.

All finalists received a minimum cash award of $1,000, with additional discretionary awards of $3,500 each, and top prizes ranging from $7,500 to $15,000.

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. Clark, who last judged the competition in 2012, noted:

“I can feel the leap in overall talent from the last time I judged.”

Now in its 19th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singers/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 $750,000 in prize money 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.

About the Kurt Weill Foundation
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of composer Kurt Weill (1900-50) and preserving the legacies of Weill and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). The Foundation administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and the Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter. Learn more by visiting www.kwf.org.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

About Talya Lieberman
Originally from Forest Hills, New York, soprano Talya Ilana Lieberman is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at CCM as a student of Professor William McGraw.

Recently described by Opera News as “poetically compelling,” “delectably stylish” and “technically refined,” Lieberman is equally at home with operatic, art song and musical theatre repertoire. Starting in September 2016 she will be seen frequently on stage at Komische Oper Berlin, where she will be assuming the soprano position in the Opernstudio. Her upcoming performances include debuts with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus, as well as the title role in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

Lieberman returned to Cincinnati this fall after completing a summer as a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where her ability to “make a point with the merest flick of a finger” (Washington Post) shined in a highly lauded run as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She also appeared in concert with Steven Blier at Wolf Trap in a program celebrating the Broadway legacy of the Rodgers family (The Rodgers Family – A Century of Musicals).

Lieberman is a convert from the orchestra pit and started singing after receiving her master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the tutelage of Judith Saxton. She completed her BA at Duke University with highest distinction in linguistics (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude). She is a two-time winner of full tuition and stipend—winning the Russell-Seybold and Italo Tajo Awards, respectively—at CCM’s Opera Scholarship Competition.

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

About Reilly Nelson
Born in the coastal town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, Reilly Nelson attended the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and CCM where she completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

Nelson is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at CCM.

At CCM she performed Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and Mary in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star. She also performed Hansel, as well as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, at Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.

The mezzo-soprano was a vocal fellow at the renowned Tanglewood Music Festival for the summers of 2014 and 2015, performing Les nuits d’été, Op. 7 and Folk Songs by Bernard Rands.

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Story by Curt Whitacre

CCM News Student Salutes
Rebecca Castillo performs in the Kentucky Bach Choir's Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition. Provided Photo.

CCM Singer Awarded in Kentucky Bach Choir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition

We are thrilled to share that CCM Master of Music student Rebecca Castillo won the Encouragement Award after participating in Kentucky Bach Coir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition on Saturday, April 9.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst. Provided Photo.

Nine student singers from six different states and nine universities competed in the live vocal competition, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Lexington. The singers competed for a Grand Prize of $1,500, an Audience Choice Award of $750, and two Encouragement Awards. As a recipient of the Encouragement Award, Castillo was given $500 and the opportunity to return as a paid guest soloist in future Kentucky Bach choir concerts.

The Grand Prize winner was Emily Yocum Black, who is pursuing a Master’s in Vocal Performance at the University of Louisville. The Audience Choice Award went to Zackery Morris, who is in pursuit of a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Kentucky. Julius Cruse Miller III, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Indiana University, won the other Encouragement Award.

Castillo is a soprano studying under the tutelage of Amy Johnson, assistant professor of voice, as part of the Master of Music program at CCM. She recently performed in the ensemble of CCM’s production of Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Last fall, Castillo performed J. S. Bach’s B Minor Mass with Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Music Education and previously taught choir at South Houston High School. While there, she performed with Houston’s Bach Society Choir including works B Minor Mass, St. Matthew’s Passion and Magnificat.

About the Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition
In its sixth year, the vocal competition was created to encourage exceptional student singers in the study of the solo repertoire of J. S. Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, and W. A. Mozart. Singers are selected for the live competition in Lexington by submitting recordings to Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director, Marlon Hurst. The competition was adjudicated by Hurst, Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at the University of Alamaba Dr. Krintine Hurst-Wajszczuk, and Zach Klobnak, director of music at The Presbyterian Church in Danville, Centre College organist and instructor of organ, harpsichord, and piano. Klobnak also serves as the accompanist for the Kentucky Bach Choir. All singers in the competition were accompanied by Nan McSwain, vocal coach and lecturer in opera with the University of Kentucky Opera Theater.

Ms. Audrey Heyman Rooney became the sponsor of the competition in 2013. A member of the Kentucky Bach Choir Board of Directors, Ms. Rooney has been a longtime advocate for the arts and for the encouragement of young artists, making significant contributions towards these ends in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky.

CCM News Student Salutes
Rehearsals for CCM's April 2016 production of SWAN LAKE.

Building a Ballet: E-Media students give inside look at CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’

CCM Electronic Media and UC journalism students take us behind-the-scenes with a look at the rehearsals for next week’s production of Swan Lake. The video series chronicles all of the work and dedication students, faculty and staff put into the lavish new production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet.

Students within the News Writing and Reporting class, taught by Assistant Professor of E-Media Hagit Limor and Journalism Professor Bob Jonason, created the videos, which star faculty and students within CCM’s Dance Department.

In the video above, Dance Department chair and Swan Lake co-director Jiang Qi discusses the work that goes into presenting such an iconic ballet. He explains:

Swan Lake is one of the top classical ballets in the repertoire. It’s almost textbook. You learn Swan Lake and then you get much stronger. This is an art form that requires a lot of physical and mental endurance to get through.”

The videos and photos, created by students Brevin Couch, Mark D’Andrea, Tyler Dunn, Daniel Honerkamp, Ailish Masterston and Andrew Wilkins, can be viewed on the Building a Ballet website. Visit the website to view interviews with dance students Madison Holschuh (Odette), Sam Jones (Prince Siegfried), and Kiahna Saneshige (Odile). The package was recently featured in Cincinnati Magazine.

Swan Lake is only the second story ballet ever presented as part of CCM’s Mainstage Series. The production runs April 22 – 24 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

Co-directed by Jiang and Professor Deirdre Carberry, the production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program, which Dance Magazine has hailed as one of the country’s “top programs to consider.”

The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Professor Aik Khai Pung.

This production marks the first time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a dance production has featured brand new costumes designed and built in-house. You can learn more about the work that went into costuming Swan Lake here.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 22
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Swan Lake are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 for UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s

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Story by Curt Whitacre

CCM News CCM Video Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
Dean Mogle holds the white and black swan design sketches for CCM's production of Swan Lake.

From Sketch to Stage: The Making of CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’ Costumes

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There is a shortage of tutu makers in the world, said CCM Professor and Head of the Costume Design and Technology Program Dean Mogle, who faced the daunting task of designing costumes for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

CCM is working to fix that shortage by training the next generation of costume designers and technicians, whose work will debut on stage in the conservatory’s first ballet production to have costumes designed and built in-house.

A timeless tale of love, magic and mystery, Swan Lake will grace the Corbett Auditorium stage from April 22-24, marking the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Staff and students within the Costume Design and Technology program have worked on the ‘Swan Lake’ costumes for the past 18 months.

Presented by CCM’s Department of Dance, the ballet uses three different casts and the principal roles are all double cast ­— which is challenging for the costume shop students and staff responsible for ensuring the pieces fit each dancer correctly.

“You have to understand what dancers go through—what they need,” Mogle said. “Balance becomes really important.”

Costume designers and technicians must consider the weight of the fabrics and headpieces so the dancer can retain their natural balance. There is also limited “real estate” on the costume for artistic expression or characterization, Mogle said. If a female dancer needs to be lifted, safety dictates the fabric around her waist can’t be too slick and can’t get caught on anything.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast.”

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Newly designed costumes for the Hungarian Czardas in Act III of ‘Swan Lake,’ made by costume students and staff. To the far right is Prince Siegfried’s jacket, made by Jessica Barksdale.

Mogle, with a team of students and faculty within the Costume Design and Technology program, has worked on the Swan Lake costumes for the past 18 months. They’ve borrowed and modified some costumes from a previous CCM performance of Brigadoon and the Broadway production of Cyrano, The Musical. Costumes for the principal and specialty roles in the ballet are newly designed and made.

Iconic white tutus, bodices, vibrant dresses and rich fabrics have taken over their workshop. The costumes are designed in the traditional style typically associated with the classic ballet. CCM plans to reuse and rent out some of them after the performance.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Jessica Barksdale is building Mogle’s design for Prince Siegfried’s costume, which will be worn in Acts III and IV.

Mogle, who previously designed costumes for the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker, watched five or six different productions of Swan Lake to prepare for his costume designs. The pieces are still evolving on a daily basis, he said.

“Since we are making the production to last about 30 or 40 years, we don’t ever want to get too wild and crazy with the concept because it is pretty traditional,” Mogle said. “The things that really change in a traditional ballet like this are going to be the specialty characters.”

Those include the newly designed and made pieces that will be worn at the ball in Act III, where the Queen invites potential wives from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Naples and Poland to match with her son, Prince Siegfried.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A sketch and sleeve of Von Rothbart’s Act III costume, made by Erin Winslow.

At the ball, Prince Siegfried will wear a newly designed black and gold jacket made by Jessica Barksdale, first-year costume technology graduate student. Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who cursed the prince’s love Odette, will wear an intricately detailed costume made by senior costume technology student, Erin Winslow, as part of her capstone project.

Barskdale and Winslow are also making the iconic white and black swan costumes for leading female characters Odette and Odile. Associate Professor of Costume Technology Regina Truhart is managing all costume production for the ballet.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

The in-progress white and black swan costumes for characters Odette and Odile are being made by Jessica Barksdale and Erin Winslow, respectively.

After 27 years at CCM, Mogle is familiar with the 30,000 costume pieces the conservatory has in stock. Luckily, the costume department was able to pull pieces from past performances of Brigadoon and Cyrano to modify them for courtier and peasant costumes in Swan Lake.

The costume department dyed some of the costumes in bright jewel tones and added details such as sashes, sleeves, aprons and hats. Net petticoats were used to make the costumes lighter and easier to dance in.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costumes from the CCM production of ‘Brigadoon’ are being modified for the female peasants in Act I of ‘Swan Lake.’

“Every time we do [Swan Lake], we’ll add more to it and rely less on our costume stock,” Mogle said, adding that when the ballet is performed again in 6 years they will likely build new peasant costumes.

“That’s how some companies do it anyway. They’ll use tutus from many kinds of shows. Pulling together a show like this from all of these different places is a great exercise.”

Acquiring materials is one hurdle but then, of course, the costumes must actually fit.

It helps that musical theatre bodies and dancer bodies are similar in stature, Mogle said. It would cost around $5,000 to reproduce one of the Cyrano costumes today.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costume technicians included three clasp sizes on the ‘Swan Lake’ bodices so they can be adjusted for different dancers.

With three different casts, and double-cast principals, it was important to make the costumes interchangeable for different dancers. The technicians included three clasp sizes for the bodices to make them more adjustable and, in some cases, built extra costumes.

The process and pieces are evolving daily, with more adjustments expected after fittings and the dress rehearsals. A beautiful design can look perfect on a mannequin but flawed when put on a body that needs to breathe, dance and kick. That is why it’s important for the costuming students to learn each step in the creative process, said Mogle.

 “The whole focus of our program is teaching design and technology so designers know how to make stuff and makers know how to design stuff. So they all have the same sensibility as to how things should look and how they should be handled. If the knowledge base in those two roles isn’t strong then things fall apart.”

After the designs are sketched, the appropriate fabrics need to be found, Mogle said of the costuming process. Then there’s making the patterns and cutting them out of the cloth and stitching them together. There’s also fabric painting and dying and mask and jewelry making.

“Each one of those is a profession in itself,” Mogle said. “The more skills you have as a technician and the more kinds of plays and operas and ballets that you can design as a designer, your job market opens up. It’s a good part of training and real life experience.”

Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program. The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

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Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake runs April. 22 – 24 in Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s
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Story by Rebecca Butts

CCM News CCM Slideshows Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
A banner for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.

CCM Alumnae Tamara Wilson and Amanda Woodbury Receive Major Awards from Richard Tucker Music Foundation

We are ecstatic to report that CCM alumnae Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004) and Amanda Woodbury (MM Voice, 2012) have both received major awards from the prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation.

Wilson, a soprano who studied with Barbara Honn while attending CCM, has been named winner of the 2016 Richard Tucker Award. Dubbed the “Heisman Trophy of Opera,” the Tucker Award carries the foundation’s most substantial cash prize of $50,000, and is conferred each year by a panel of opera industry professionals on an American singer at the threshold of a major international career. Featuring such luminaries as Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, David Daniels, Christine Goerke and Joyce DiDonato, the list of past winners reads like a who’s who of American opera. Wilson is a previous recipient of the Foundation’s Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2008 and Richard Tucker Career Grant in 2011.

Barry Tucker, president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and son of the Brooklyn-born tenor, commented, “I first met Tamara Wilson when she auditioned for – and won – a Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2008. I was blown away not only by the power and sheer beauty of her voice, but also by how grounded she is as a person. Last year, when I was listening to the Saturday matinee broadcast of Aida from the Met and realized it was her singing the title role, I couldn’t have been more impressed by how she’s evolved as an artist. She has a bright future ahead of her, and we are thrilled to have her as our 2016 Richard Tucker Award winner.”

Wilson is not the only CCM-trained singer honored by the Richard Tucker Music Foundation this year. Woodbury, a soprano who studied with William McGraw while attending CCM, has been named a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant recipient. Selected through a vocal competition, these grants are provided to singers who have begun professional careers and who have already performed roles with opera companies nationally or internationally. As previously reported, Woodbury was awarded the Foundation’s Sara Tucker Grant in 2014.

About the Richard Tucker Music Foundation
Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization that honors the artistic legacy of the great American tenor through support of talented American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community.

The Foundation’s awards program offers grants for study, performance opportunities and other career-enhancing activities, thereby providing professional development for singers at several levels of career-readiness. You can learn more about the Richard Tucker Music Foundation by visiting richardtucker.org/about.

Soprano Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004).

Soprano Tamara Wilson (BM Voice, 2004).

About Tamara Wilson
American soprano Tamara Wilson made her much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera debut in December of 2014 in the title role of Aida, when the New York Times praised the “laserlike authority of her high notes,” and observed: “Her voice blooms with her palpable involvement in her own story: Her singing is urgent, her physical performance restrained yet powerful.”

Nominated for a 2016 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera after her English National Opera debut last fall as Leonora in La forza del destino, the soprano will make further debuts next season at the Bayerischer Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper Berlin. She was a finalist in the 2004 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Grand Prize Winner at Barcelona’s Annual Francisco Viñas Competition, a winner of the George London Award and the recipient of both a 2008 Sara Tucker Study Grant and a 2011 Richard Tucker Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.

After launching the present season headlining Aida at the Aspen Music Festival, Wilson returned to Oper Frankfurt as Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlo; sang Lucrezia in Verdi’s I due Foscari in Santiago, Chile; made her Cleveland Orchestra debut; and joined Marin Alsop for Mahler in São Paulo. Back in the States after touring Japan as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, the soprano looks forward to taking Brahms’s German Requiem on an East Coast tour with Seraphic Fire and singing Desdemona in Otello at Cincinnati’s May Festival, in celebration of James Conlon’s 37th and final year as Music Director. Last season Wilson made her role and house debuts headlining Norma at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, following recent debuts at Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Carnegie Hall. In addition to being a CCM graduate, Wilson is also an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

CCM alumna Amanda Woodbury.

CCM alumna Amanda Woodbury.

About Amanda Woodbury
An alumna of Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, Amanda Woodbury was recently honored with the second place and Audience Choice awards in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. She also won the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a 2014 Sara Tucker Study Grant, and both second place and Audience Choice awards at Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition.

Woodbury made her professional debut as Micaëla in Carmen at Los Angeles Opera, where she returned as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte. She then joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, appearing as Tebaldo in Don Carlo and covering the roles of Antonia and Stella in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

This season she sang Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles at the Met, and looks forward to appearing as Musetta in La bohème with the Los Angeles Opera. Having taken part in the Met’s “Rising Stars” concert tour, she looks forward to headlining a new Met production of Roméo et Juliette and making house debuts at PORTopera as Micaëla in Carmen and at Atlanta Opera as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Woodbury completed her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at CCM in 2012, after receiving her Bachelor of Music from Indiana University.

In a 2014 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Woodbury reflected on her recent success and on her time at CCM, telling Janelle Gelfand:

“I sang two roles onstage [at CCM], Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites. I can’t tell you how much that has helped my career. It helped me to prepare for the next step, and just everything they did opened up doors for me. I’m so glad I went to CCM, because I passed up Juilliard for CCM.”

You can read the Enquirer‘s full interview with Woodbury online here.

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Story by Curt Whitacre

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