The 23rd Annual Lotte Lenya Competition Public Screening in Rochester, September 11, 2021

August 27, 2021

Media only:  Katey Padden, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, (585)451-8492,  kpadden@esm.rochester.edu

The Lenya Competition Finals has taken place at Eastman since the Competition’s inception in 1998. This year, the Finals has been relocated to New York City due to the pandemic and will be held before an invited audience.  A special public screening of the filmed event will take place in Rochester, NY on Saturday, September 11, 2021, at the Eastman School of Music’s Hatch Recital Hall beginning at 1:00pm EDT. The event is free of charge and will be hosted by Eastman School Emeritus Professor and Founder of the Lenya Competition, Kim H. Kowalke.

University of Rochester alum Andrew Polec (2012), who recently won the Joe Allen Best West End Debut Award for starring in the international production of Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, and Eastman School of Music alum Helen Zhibing Huang (2013), currently playing Pamina in the Glimmerglass Festival production of The Magic Flute, are among this year’s fifteen finalists. Additionally, Zachary Peterson (’16, MM), Director of Graduate Advising and Services, is one of this year’s accompanists.

Kim Kowalke remarks: “With theaters and opera houses darkened around the globe, a large number of working professionals were able to enter the Lenya Competition for the first time. The resulting pool was double the norm. Competition for the fifteen finalist slots was fierce, and I predict that the Finals will be hard-fought and at the highest level in the Competition’s 23-year history.”

The 2021 Competition drew applicants from 29 countries and 39 US states. In the semifinal round, thirty-one contestants auditioned via video submission and received coaching remotely from Broadway and opera star Lisa Vroman, Broadway mainstay and Eastman alum Analisa Leaming (’07), and opera and musical theater globetrotter Zachary James. Leaming and James took home top prizes in the Lenya Competition themselves in 2007 and 2009, respectively. They are the first past prizewinners to return to judge a round of the Lenya Competition. 

Each finalist will perform a continuous fifteen-minute program of four contrasting numbers, including one by Kurt Weill. The streaming event will present each contestant’s complete performance, as well as the award ceremony. The ceremony will for the first time feature a presentation of representative songs from the new Lotte Lenya Competition Songbook, which was launched in 2020.

The finalists competing for prizes of $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000. The three-person jury for the finals includes Tony Award-winning actress, singer, and director Victoria Clark, renowned Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn, and Obie Award-winning actress and singer, Mary Beth Peil, who launched her multifaceted career as the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

For the first time ever, an edited version of the complete event will be available free and on-demand to worldwide audiences beginning Friday, September 10, 2021 via OperaVision. For a full listing of finalists and full streaming options please visit the Kurt Weil Website.

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About the Lotte Lenya Competition:

More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of “total-package performers” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. In awarding more than $1.1 million in prize money since the Competition’s inception, the Kurt Weill Foundation has celebrated the talent and supported the careers of hundreds of singing actors worldwide.

About the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music:

Chartered in 1962 as a not-for-profit private foundation, the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music preserves and perpetuates the legacies of composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and his actress- singer wife Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). Based in New York City, it encourages an appreciation of Weill’s music through support of performances, recordings, and scholarship, while nurturing talent more generally in the creation, performance, and study of musical theater. It maintains the Weill-Lenya Research Center; the annual Lotte Lenya Competition; Weill-Lenya Artist Sponsorships, the Julius Rudel/Kurt Weill Conducting Fellowship, and the Harold Prince/Kurt Weill Directing Fellowship. It has prepared and co-published twelve volumes of the Kurt Weill Edition, with more in preparation. It awards biennially the Kurt Weill Prize for scholarship about music theater. The Foundation’s ongoing communications include its semi-annual Kurt Weill Newsletter, monthly E-News, and lively presence on multiple social media platforms. Since 2012, the Foundation has also administered the musical and literary estate of Marc Blitzstein.

About Eastman School of Music:

The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.

More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Guggenheim fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community. Additionally, more than 1,700 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.

About the University of Rochester:

The University of Rochester is one of the nation’s leading private research universities, one of only 62-member institutions in the Association of American Universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives undergraduates exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.