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

CCM Artist Diploma Student Talya Lieberman Wins Outstanding Performance Award at 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition

CCM artist diploma student Talya Lieberman.

CCM artist diploma student Talya Lieberman.

We are happy to report that soprano Talya Lieberman, an Artist Diploma candidate in CCM’s Opera program, won the Lys Symonette Award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number during the final round of the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition.

Sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, this year’s competition was held at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music on April 18. Named in honor of Weill’s musical assistant on Broadway, the Lys Symonette Award comes with a cash prize of $3,500.

Now in its 18th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theatre singing contest that recognizes exceptionally talented young singer/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, from opera and operetta to contemporary Broadway musicals, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. The judges of this year’s competition were Rebecca Luker, James Holmes and Theodore S. Chapin. You can view a full list of this year’s competition winners by visiting www.kwf.org/previous-winners.

Lieberman is the latest in a long line of CCM-trained singers to take home top honors at the Lotte Lenya Competition. CCM alumna Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) took Third Prize in the 2013 installment of this prestigious international theater 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.

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

A soprano, Lieberman will be singing Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Young Artist this coming summer. She has been invited to make her recital debut with the San Francisco Opera Center as part of their Schwabacher Debut Recital series this spring. She was most recently seen performing Gretel in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

This past summer she sang the title role in Handel’s Semele as part of the Schwabacher Concert Series (Merola Opera Program). Highlights from 2013-14 include performing selections from Canteloube’s “Chants d’Auverge” with the CCM Philharmonia, as well as performing David del Tredici’s “Haddock’s Eyes” with CCM’s Café MoMus ensemble. She won the Irma M. Cooper Vocal Competition (Columbus Opera, 2014) and Alida Vane International Voice Competition (2013) in Latvia, where she studied on a Fulbright scholarship for the 2012-13 school year.

Lieberman made her New York City debut prior to departing for Latvia, singing in concert with Schubert & Co. In the summer of 2012 she participated in the voice program at the Chautauqua School of Music, where she was featured in Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras” with the cello studio.

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 Award and Italo Tajo Award, respectively—at CCM’s annual Opera Scholarship Competition.

Lieberman has lived a few lives before coming to opera full-time; she worked on sleep apnea research as a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, served as program coordinator for the El Sistema inspired program Play On, Philly!, and had a short stint as a singer-songwriter. She is an avid student of contact improvisation and various forms of meditation. She loves reading, writing, editing, working with children, teaching and being an aunt.

CCM News Student Salutes

CCM Students Named Finalists in 2013 Lotte Lenya Vocal Competition

Congratulations to current CCM student Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) and alumna Heather Phillips (BM Voice, MM Voice, 2002-08) on being named finalists in the 2013 Lotte Lenya Vocal Competition! Held annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer-actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.

The Kurt Weill Foundation awards special prizes at the finals in addition to the top prizes and we are delighted to report that current CCM students Conor McDonald (MM Voice, 2014), Katie Wesler (BFA Musical Theatre, 2014) and Sofia Selowsky (MM Voice, 2014) were awarded Emerging Talent Awards. Current Artist Diploma candidate Charles Z. Owen (MM, 2012) received the 2013 Grace Keagy Award for Outstanding Vocal Promise.

Congratulations to our two finalists and our four award-winners!

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Student Salutes