Eastman School of Music will host the final round of the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Competition, as well as its 25th Anniversary Gala Concert, on Saturday, April 29, 2023 as part of a celebratory weekend of events at the Lenya Competition’s original home.
The Gala Concert invites past prizewinners of the Lenya Competition to perform musical theatre and operatic favorites in Eastman’s historic Kilbourn Hall. The concert will be headlined by international opera star Brian Mulligan, who studied at Eastman and was the top prizewinner of the first competition. Kim Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation and Founder of the Lotte Lenya Competition, remarks: “It will be an extraordinary weekend celebrating the Lenya Competition at 25. We’re excited that this year’s jury will include newcomers Kyle Scatliffe, currently Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton on Broadway, and the distinguished British soprano, Dame Josephine Barstow.”
Eastman’s Voice, Opera, and Vocal Coaching (VOVC) Department Chair, Katherine Ciesinski, shares “The VOVC Department is thrilled to be collaborating with the Kurt Weill Foundation to celebrate a quarter century of our ties to the Lenya Competition.” She continues, “This also gives us an opportunity to honor retiring professor, Steven Daigle, Artistic Director of Eastman Opera Theatre, with our alumni who are returning to campus. Steven’s innovative directing and outstanding teaching has directly resulted in a number of our students winning top prizes in the Lenya Competition.” To date, 69 Eastman alumni have won prizes in the Lenya Competition, more than any other institution.
Saturday, April 29 in Kilbourn Hall
10:00 a.m. | In Conversation: Past Competition Winners
Katherine Ciesinski, Eastman’s VOVC Department Chair, moderates a panel of Lenya Competition alumni who will share experiences and insights about the competition, and how it intersected with their careers. Former Eastman students on the panel include Natalie Ballenger ’11E; Brian Mulligan, studied at Eastman; Reilly Nelson ’11E; and Laura Corina Sanders ’16E, ’18E (MM).
11:00 a.m. | Other Perspectives: Past and Present Judges
Kurt Weill Foundation President and University of Rochester Professor Emeritus Kim Kowalke leads this panel with a number of competition judges, including former President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Ted Chapin.
1:00 – 4:30 p.m. | The 2023 Lotte Lenya Competition Finals
Twelve finalists will each perform a continuous 15-minute program of four contrasting numbers, including one by Kurt Weill. The jury for the final round includes luminaries from the worlds of theatre and opera.
8:00 p.m. | 25th Anniversary Gala Alumni Concert and Awards Presentation (ticketed, free)
Appearing will be 12 past prizewinners of the Lotte Lenya Competition, including six vocalists and four accompanists from the Eastman and University of Rochester community. The evening will also feature video messages from Eastman alumni who are currently performing on stages around the world, thus unable to attend in person. All are listed below:
- Brian Mulligan, concert headliner, studied at Eastman
- Reilly Nelson ’11E
- Laura Corina Sanders ’16E, ’18E (MM)
- Natalie Ballenger ’11E
- Lauren Pastorek ’00E
- Andrew Polec ’12
- Timothy Long, Music Director of Eastman Opera Theatre
- Thomas Rosenkranz ’01E (MM), ’06E (DMA)
- Zachary Peterson ’16E (MM), Eastman’s Associate Director of Graduate Advising and Services
- Lyndon Meyer ’10E (MM)
- Nicole Cabell ’01E, Assistant Professor of Voice at Eastman
- Lucas Meachem, studied at Eastman
- Jonathan Michie ’06E, ’08E (MM)
- Analisa Leaming ’07E
- Matt Grills ’12E (MM)
- Margaret Gawrysiak ’05E (MM)
Sunday, April 30 in Eastman’s Black Box Theatre (Annex 804)
1:30 & 4:00 p.m. | “Wholly Weill”: Scenes from Kurt Weill’s European and American Stage Works
Eastman Voice students present an afternoon of scenes and arias from Weill operas. The program will be directed by Octavio Cardenas with music direction by Wilson Southerland.
Monday, April 24 – Wednesday, May 31 in the Sibley Music Library
Exhibits of Lenya Competition Highlights and Kurt Weill Manuscripts
On display will be exhibits of Lenya Competition highlights as well as Weill’s original manuscripts, which have been housed at the Sibley Music Library since 1998, when the first Lenya Competition celebrated their arrival.
The 2023 Competition drew a pool of 271 applicants representing 20 countries and 36 US states. Twenty-four were selected as semifinalists — including Eastman alum Elise Noyes ’22E (MM) — who auditioned in-person and received immediate feedback and coaching from one of the two semifinal round judges: prominent music director Andy Einhorn and “Leading Lady of Crossover” Amy Justman. Additionally, six of this year’s applicants received Emerging Talent Awards, including Eastman alum Jenna Rose Cipolla ’22E.
To learn more about this milestone weekend for the Lotte Lenya Competition, visit Eastman’s Event Calendar. These celebratory events are free and open to the public and will be livestreamed via the Kurt Weill Foundation’s website. Please note that the Gala Concert on Saturday evening is free, but ticketed, ensuring that anyone who arrives before 7:50 p.m. will have a general admission seat in Kilbourn Hall. Tickets are available at Eastman’s Box Office website or by calling 585-274-3000.
Eastman School of Music, Lauren Sageer, (585) 451-8492, email@example.com
Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Brady Sansone, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 talents” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. In awarding more than $1.5 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 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.