Countertenor Andrey Nemzer Wins 18th Annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

NEW YORK CITY, NY -- On Saturday, May 20, 2017, the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation awarded Andrey Nemzer First Place in the 18th annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition in New York City. For the final day of the competition, Mr. Nemzer, a countertenor, performed “Empio Diro Tu Sei” from George Frideric Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto and “Dawn, Still Darkness” from Flight by Jonathan Dove. As the winner of the competition, Mr. Nemzer received $15,000.

"I feel very excited to win the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, because of its outstanding reputation and because of the amazing financial and creative aid I've received as a result of this victory," said Mr. Nemzer. "The monetary prize will help me make one of my dreams to become true: to record a CD of Rachmaninoff art song cycles. Receiving great support from a foundation like the Jensen Foundation helps keep my faith in the brighter future of this beautiful art."

A native of Moscow, Russia, Mr. Nemzer began his studies at Moscow Choir College, after which he became a touring soloist with the Moscow Boys Choir under the direction of Victor Popov. He earned an Artist Diploma from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Nemzer frequently collaborates with renowned Russian instrumental and vocal ensembles including the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra. In the United States, he is a principal soloist with The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and frequently appears with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh Summerfest. 

Other 2017 Jensen award winners were bass-baritone Christian Pursell (Second Award Winner - $10,000), bass-baritone André Courville ($7,500), and mezzo-soprano Hannah Ludwig (Munday Encouragement Award Winner - $3,000). 

(L-R) Christian Pursell, Andre Courville, Hannah Ludwig

(L-R) Christian Pursell, Andre Courville, Hannah Ludwig

Additional finalists who performed in the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition were:
Victoria Cannizzo | Soprano
Tasha Koontz | Soprano
Rainelle Krause | Soprano
Kathryn Leemhuis | Mezzo-Soprano
Anne Maguire | Mezzo-Soprano
Alyssa Martin | Mezzo-Soprano
Megan Nielson | Soprano
Shea Owens | Baritone

These singers distinguished themselves from a field of 102 auditioners and 274 applicants. Judges for the 2017 Finals were F. Paul Driscoll, Rosalind Elias, and Michael Heaston. (Read their bios.) Judges for the Preliminary Rounds, held Monday-Thursday, were Jensen Foundation Trustees Jane Pardue, Ben Leaptrott, and Oliver Worthington. The 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition was held May 15-20 in the Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City.

About the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation
The Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit foundation, established by Lavinia Jensen in honor of her late husband, Fritz Jensen. Their lifelong love for the arts has benefited many musicians and musical organizations. The Foundation continues their philanthropic passion for the musical arts by supporting young artists pursuing a career in opera. The centerpiece of The Jensen Foundation’s work is the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition.  Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, and including this year’s award winners, 129 singers have received more than $610,000 in support. 
 

Finalists Announced for the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

NEW YORK, NY – After four days of preliminary auditions this week, finalists to the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition have been announced. They are:

Victoria Cannizzo | Soprano
Andre Courville | Bass-Baritone
Tasha Koontz | Soprano
Rainelle Krause | Soprano
Kathryn Leemhuis | Mezzo-Soprano
Hannah Ludwig | Mezzo-Soprano
Anne Maguire | Mezzo-Soprano
Alyssa Martin | Mezzo-Soprano
Andrey Nemzer | Countertenor
Megan Nielson | Soprano
Shea Owens | Baritone
Christian Pursell | Bass-Baritone

The Finals of the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition will be held Saturday, May 20th at 1 PM at Engelman Recital Hall, Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York. The event is free and open to the public, and the winners will be named at the conclusion of the event.

More than 270 singers applied to perform in the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. One hundred two singers were heard, and these twelve finalists were selected. They will compete for more than $40,000 in awards, including:

•    $15,000 for the First Place Winner
•    $10,000 for the Second Place Winner
•    $7,500 for the Third Place Winner
•    $3,000 for the Munday Encouragement Award winner

The Jensen Foundation has assembled a distinguished roster of judges for the 2017 Finals Competition. They are:

•    F. Paul Driscoll has been Editor-in-Chief of OPERA NEWS since 2003. He has served as a lecturer at such institutions as the Art Song Festival at Baldwin-Wallace College, the Metropolitan Opera Club, the Wagner Society of New York, and the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Singers Studio” interview series. In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from Manhattan School of Music. 
•    Rosalind Elias is one of the finest singing-actresses of our time. She has performed leading roles with distinction with premier opera companies throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Paris Opera. Ms. Elias is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music with an Honorary Doctorate of Music. 
•    Michael Heaston is Executive Director of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Heaston has presented master classes at numerous conservatories and universities, including The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, University of North Texas, and Miami Summer Music Festival. He also serves on the Singer Training and New Works Forums for Opera America. 

About the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation
The Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit foundation, established by Lavinia Jensen in honor of her late husband, Fritz Jensen. Their lifelong love for the arts has benefited many musicians and musical organizations. The Foundation continues their philanthropic passion for the musical arts by supporting young artists pursuing a career in opera. The centerpiece of The Jensen Foundation’s work is the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition.  Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, and including this year’s award winners, 126 singers have received more than $610,000 in support. 

Helpful Information for Jensen Auditioners

The 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition begins Monday, May 15. Below we offer some information auditioners should find helpful.

What’s At Stake: The First Place winner of the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition receives $15,000. The Second Place winner receives $10,000; Third Place receives $7,500; an Encouragement Award winner receives $3,000 and automatic entry to the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. All other finalists receive $750.

Audition Location: The 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition auditions and finals will be held in Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center (BPAC), located at 55 Lexington Avenue in New York City. For bus or subway directions to Baruch Performing Arts Center, visit the BPAC website. Please enter through the 25th Street entrance and look for the Jensen Foundation table in the lobby. The attendant will escort you backstage. 

Your Arrival Time: Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition. Dressing rooms are available. A warm-up space with piano is available but not private. 

Dress: Professional dress for both the preliminary audition and the Finals is recommended.  

Bring With You: Photocopies of the sheet music for your 5 listed arias, placed in a three-ring binder. No loose music. No stapled music. No plastic sleeves. 

The Preliminary Judges Will Each Have a Printed Score Sheet containing:  

  1. Your resume from Yaptracker
  2. Your headshot from Yaptracker
  3. Your Aria List from Yaptracker. 

Our Accompanists: You can read about our accompanists here

Backstage & WiFi: Phone and WiFi signals backstage at the Engelman Recital Hall are very weak for most carriers, with Verizon providing the best service. Even at its best though, your reception will likely be poor. Please plan accordingly.

Contacting the Competition Director: During the audition rounds, email is our primary mode of contact, so please add the jensenfoundation.org to your non-spam list. In case of emergencies the week of the competition, please call or text Competition Director Lisa V. Gray anytime at 704-641-4691 or lisa@jensenfoundation.org.  

Are You A Finalist? Finalists will be chosen Thursday evening, May 18, after the last audition has been heard.  If you are a finalist, you will receive an email and a confirming call before 10 PM that evening. Please make sure you are available to receive the call!   

The Finals Judges are F. Paul Driscoll, Rosalind Elias, and Michael Heaston. Read all about them here.

If You Are Not A Finalist: On Friday, you will receive an email confirming the list of finalists and encouraging you to attend the Finals. This event is free and open to the public. The Finals performances begin on Saturday, May 20 at 1 PM and should be complete by 3:45 PM. The awards ceremony will begin at approximately 4 PM, after which the Finals Judges will privately provide, in round-robin fashion, three minutes of individual feedback to any finalist who seeks it. 

Cancelling Your Audition: If you are unable to audition, please contact the Competition Director immediately by email at lisa@jensenfoundation.org or by phone at 704-641-4691. Thank you for your consideration on this point. 

The Jensen Foundation thanks everyone who has applied to perform in this year's competition. To all auditioners: Toi Toi Toi!
 

Meet our 2017 Finals Judges

The Jensen Foundation is pleased to announce the prestigious slate of Finals Judges for its 2017 Vocal Competition, to be held at 1 PM on Saturday, May 20 2017 in Engelman Recital Hall at New York City's Baruch Performing Arts Center. 

F. Paul Driscoll

F. Paul Driscoll

F. Paul Driscoll has been Editor-in-Chief of OPERA NEWS since 2003. He has served as a lecturer and interviewer at such institutions as Cooper Union, Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse, the Museum of the City of New York, CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, the Art Song Festival at Baldwin-Wallace College, the Metropolitan Opera Club, the Wagner Society of New York, and the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Singers Studio” interview series. Mr. Driscoll has been interviewed on opera by COZI TV, Thirteen/WNET, Classic Talk, CNN International, WQXR radio, WCBS radio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Houston Public Media’s “Opera Cheat Sheet,” NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Deceptive Cadence” and WNYC’s “Soundcheck.” Mr. Driscoll has been a competition judge for Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Competition, the Liederkranz Foundation, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council.  In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from Manhattan School of Music.

Rosalind Elias

Rosalind Elias

One of the finest singing-actresses of our time, Rosalind Elias has reached living-legend status. She has performed leading roles with distinction with premier opera companies throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Hamburg State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Santa Fe Opera, the Liceo in Barcelona, and the Teatro San Carlo in Lisbon. She has recorded extensively, and three of her recordings won "Best of the Year" Grammys from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. As a director, she has staged productions with numerous companies, including Hansel for Opera Memphis, Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Cosi fan tutte for the Cincinnati Opera, La Boheme and Barbiere for the Baltimore Opera, and most notably, a new production of Regina for the New York City Opera. Ms. Elias is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music with an Honorary Doctorate of Music.

Michael Heaston

Michael Heaston

Michael Heaston is a respected artistic administrator, collaborative pianist, and vocal coach.  He was recently named Executive Director of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Prior to this appointment, he was the Director of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, American Opera Initiative, and Advisor to the Artistic Director at Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was also the Associate Artistic Director of The Glimmerglass Festival, where he oversaw the Young Artists Program and all matters of musical administration. He was named one of Musical America’s top 30 Professionals of the Year for 2015. He spent six seasons at The Dallas Opera, where he was Head of Music Staff and Assistant Conductor for over 25 productions. Mr. Heaston has presented master classes at numerous conservatories and universities, including The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, University of North Texas, and Miami Summer Music Festival. He also serves on the Singer Training and New Works Forums for Opera America.

2017 Competition Accompanists Announced

Singers who participate in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition may bring their own accompanist or opt to use the professional accompanist provided free-of-charge by the Jensen Foundation. We are pleased to announce our acclaimed accompanists for the 2017 Competition: Jonathan Kelly and Dan Franklin Smith.

Jonathan Kelly

Jonathan Kelly

Jonathan Kelly is an assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera. He has worked in a similar capacity at the San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Theater of Lucca, and the Chautauqua Institution. Frequently seen in concert, Mr. Kelly has appeared with many of today’s leading performers, including Elina Garanča, Susan Graham, Hei-Kyung Hong, Ana María Martínez, Anna Netrebko, Ramon Vargas, and Rolando Villazon. Formerly a lecturer at Yale University, he is now a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Kelly graduated summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music. He will accompany Jensen singers on Monday and Tuesday, May 15-16.

Dan Franklin Smith

Dan Franklin Smith

Dan Franklin Smith is a vocal coach and collaborative pianist based in New York City. He served for 10 years as Music Director and recital soloist with the international festival Elysium: Between-Two-Continents, performing in Europe and the United States. Mr. Smith graduated as a piano major from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. To learn more, visit his website. Mr. Smith will accompany Jensen singers on Wednesday and Thursday, May 17-18, and on the Finals Day, Saturday, May 20.

Jensen Foundation Now Accepting Applications for its 2017 Vocal Competition

The Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation is now accepting online applications for the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition to be held May 15-20, 2017 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. Opera professionals who are 25-35 years of age can compete for their share of more than $40,000 in award money.

The Foundation expects 110 singers to audition for the chance to sing in the final competition on Saturday, May 20, 2017 and compete for these awards:

  • First place - $15,000
  • Second place - $10,000
  • Third place - $7,500
  • Munday Encouragement Award - $3,000 and automatic entry in the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition
  • All remaining finalists receive $750.

The Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition is open to opera singers who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • must NOT be a previous first-, second-, or third-place award winner of the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition;
  • must be a permanent legal resident of the United States for at least one year prior to May 15, 2017;
  • must be between the ages of 25 and 35 as of May 15, 2017;
  • must not be a past or current recipient of a contract for a principal role with an OPERA America Budget Level I company or its international equivalent. Cover, chorus, and comprimario roles with Level 1 companies are acceptable.

Singers can learn more about the competition at the Jensen Foundation website and complete an online application at Yaptracker.com. The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 19, 2017. 

About the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation
Fritz and Lavinia Jensen were lifelong supporters of the arts who benefited many musicians and musical organizations during their lives. The Jensen Foundation is dedicated to continuing their philanthropic vision of support for the musical arts. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts, the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, supports young artists pursuing a career in opera. Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, young singers have received more than a $540,000 in support.

Bass Adam Lau Wins 17th Annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, the Jensen Foundation awarded bass Adam Lau First Place in the 17th annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. For the final day of the competition, Mr. Lau performed “O beauty, O handsomeness, goodness” (Claggart’s Aria) from Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd and “Quand la flamme de l'amour” from La jolie fille de Perth by Georges Bizet. Mr. Lau received $15,000. Finals judges Susan Ashbaker, Peter Carwell, and James Morris chose Mr. Lau from a field of fifteen finalists. 

"Getting to sing Claggart's aria for James Morris, the Met's first Claggart, is an experience I will never forget," said Mr. Lau of his finals performance. "He's a living legend in the opera world, and it was such an honor meeting him. Thank you Jensen Foundation for making this possible!"

Mr. Lau received his Master of Music degree from the Shepherd School at Rice University and his undergraduate degree in Music Vocal Performance from Whitman College. He has participated in young artist programs at the Music Academy of the West, the Aspen Opera Theater Center, the Merola Opera Program, Florida Grand Opera, and Santa Fe Opera.  He has been recognized in several other competitions, including winning the 2015 George London Foundation Vocal Competition.  

Other 2016 Jensen award winners were mezzo-soprano Allegra de Vita (Second Award Winner - $10,000), soprano Rachel Schutz ($7,500), and soprano Megan Barrera (Munday Encouragement Award Winner - $3,000). Additional finalists who performed in the 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition were:

Michael Brandenburg | Tenor
Liana Guberman | Soprano
Joseph Lattanzi | Baritone
Andrew G. Manea | Baritone
Katherine Polit | Soprano
Heather Phillips | Soprano
Abigail Rethwisch | Soprano
Jonathan Rohr | Baritone
Claudia Rosenthal | Soprano
Alex Soare | Bass-Baritone
Kyle Van Schoonhoven | Tenor

These singers distinguished themselves from a field of 97 auditioners and 240 applicants. Judges for the 2016 Finals were Susan Ashbaker, Peter Carwell, and James Morris. (Read their bios.) Judges for the Preliminary Rounds, held Monday-Thursday, were Jensen Foundation Trustees Jane Pardue, Ben Leaptrott, and Oliver Worthington.

About the Jensen Foundation
Fritz and Lavinia Jensen were lifelong supporters of the arts who benefited many musicians and musical organizations during their lives. The Jensen Foundation is dedicated to continuing their philanthropic vision of support for the musical arts. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts, the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, supports young artists pursuing a career in opera. Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, and including this year’s award winners, 114 singers have received more than $543,000 in support. To learn more, visit jensenfoundation.org.

Meet our 2016 Finals Judges

The Jensen Foundation is pleased to announce the slate of Finals Judges for its 2016 Vocal Competition, to be held at 1 PM on Saturday, May 21 2016 in Engelman Recital Hall at New York City's Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Recently appointed General Director for Tri-Cities Opera, Susan Shiplett Ashbaker has 30+ years’ experience in the performing arts. Previously, Ms. Ashbaker served as Director of Artistic and Music Administration with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and as assistant conductor and vocal coach with the New York City Opera, European Center for Opera and Vocal Arts (Belgium), International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv and Montreal, Theater am Goetheplatz (Bremen, Germany), and the Academy of Vocal Arts. She was on the faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music from 1993-2010, and since 2005 has been Artistic Advisor and a Master Vocal Coach for The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, a program designed to help young singers prepare for advanced young artist or summer apprentice programs. Ms. Ashbaker trained at Southern Illinois University, l’Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, and received a second Master’s degree in vocal accompanying/coaching from University of Illinois.

Peter Carwell is the Executive Director of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation where he oversees the Foundation’s Auditions and Awards Program, as well as the artistic programming of the Foundation’s annual Richard Tucker Gala, numerous community concerts, and master classes. Mr. Carwell has held roles at the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Jewish Museum, as well as acting as a consultant for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he is a native of Washington, D.C.

 

Legendary bass-baritone James Morris is world famous for his performances in opera, concert, recital, and recording. With a repertoire including works by Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Offenbach, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Mozart, Gounod, and Britten, Mr. Morris has performed in virtually every international opera house. Considered one of the great interpreters of the role of Wotan in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Mr. Morris has appeared in this role at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and many others. Mr. Morris returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the 2015-2016 season as Scarpia in Tosca, as Timur in Turandot, and as Lodovico in the new production of Otello. Recent concert performances have included Hans Sachs’s monologues from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and in Rossini’s rarely-heard Moïse et Pharaon in the title role of Moïse with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall. Born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Morris studied at the Peabody Conservatory and the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts. 

2016 Accompanists Announced

Singers who participate in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition may bring their own accompanist or opt to use the professional accompanist provided free-of-charge by the Jensen Foundation. We are pleased to announce our acclaimed accompanists for the 2016 Competition: Jonathan Kelly, Joan Krueger, and Dan Franklin Smith.

Jonathan Kelly is an assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera. He has worked in a similar capacity at the San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Theater of Lucca, and the Chautauqua Institution. Frequently seen in concert, Mr. Kelly has appeared with many of today’s leading performers, including Elina Garanča, Susan Graham, Hei-Kyung Hong, Ana María Martínez, Anna Netrebko, Ramon Vargas, and Rolando Villazon. Formerly a lecturer at Yale University, he is now a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Kelly graduated summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music. He is scheduled to accompany Jensen singers on Monday, May 16.

Joan Krueger serves on the faculty of Purchase College, teaching French and Italian diction and Operatic Styles. She is also on the faculty of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance summer festival, the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and the Metropolitan International Music Festival. In addition to being in demand as a recital and competition pianist, Ms. Krueger maintains an active coaching studio in New York City. She received her M.M. from University of Michigan and her B.M. from Michigan State University. To learn more, visit her Purchase Opera bio. Ms. Krueger is scheduled to accompany Jensen singers on Tuesday, May 17 and Wednesday May 18.

Dan Franklin Smith is a vocal coach and collaborative pianist based in New York City. He serves as Music Director and recital soloist with the international festival, Elysium: Between Two Continents. In April 2016, Mr. Smith will accompany Polish soprano Malgorzata Kellis at the Polish Consulate in New York City. He graduated as a piano major from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. To learn more, visit his website. Mr. Smith is scheduled to accompany Jensen singers on Thursday, May 19 and on the Finals Day, Saturday, May 21.

Applications Now Accepted for 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

The Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation is now accepting online applications for the 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition to be held May 16-21, 2016 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. Opera professionals who are 25-35 years of age can compete for their share of more than $36,000 in prize money.

The Foundation expects 110 singers to audition for the chance to sing in the final competition on Saturday, May 21, 2016 and compete for these awards:

  • First place - $15,000
  • Second place - $10,000
  • Third place - $7,500
  • Munday Encouragement Award - $3,000 and automatic entry into the 2017 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition
  • All remaining finalists will receive $750.

The Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition is open to opera singers who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Will be 25-35 years of age on the first day of the 2016 competition, May 16;
  • Will have been a permanent legal resident of the United States for at least one year prior to May 16, 2016;
  • Can demonstrate the active pursuit of a career in opera;
  • Will not be a past or current recipient of a contract with an OPERA American Budget Level I company or its international equivalent.

Singers can complete an online application at Yaptracker.com. The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 13, 2016. 

About the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation
Fritz and Lavinia Jensen were lifelong supporters of the arts who benefited many musicians and musical organizations during their lives. The Jensen Foundation is dedicated to continuing their philanthropic vision of support for the musical arts. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts, the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, supports young artists pursuing a career in opera. Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, 99 singers have received more than $500,000 in support. Learn more and meet previous winners of the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition at http://www.jensenfoundation.org.

John Brancy, Baritone, Wins 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

On Saturday, May 23, 2015, the Jensen Foundation awarded baritone John Brancy its First Place Award in the 16th annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. As first place winner, Mr. Brancy received a $15,000 award, as well as an opportunity to perform in Opera America's 2016 Emerging Artist Recital Series. 

John Brancy, Baritone, wins the 16th annual jensen foundation vocal competition

John Brancy, Baritone, wins the 16th annual jensen foundation vocal competition

Mr. Brancy, originally from Mullica Hill NJ, has made New York City his home for the last eight years. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Juilliard School and has been studying with Edith Wiens for the past 5 years. “The performance I gave at the Jensen finals was definitely one of my strongest, most honest performances in a competition setting," said Mr. Brancy. "I was able to sing two of my favorite, comfortable arias and really felt connected to the characters and the moment. I am honored to be among the great singers who have won this prize in the past and look forward to the Emerging Artist Recital Series concert next season at Opera America.”

2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition Winners L-R: Rexford Tester, tenor (2nd Place); Ariana Wehr, soprano (3rd Place); Allegra de Vita, mezzo-soprano (Munday Encouragement Award); and John Brancy, baritone (1st place).

2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition Winners L-R: Rexford Tester, tenor (2nd Place); Ariana Wehr, soprano (3rd Place); Allegra de Vita, mezzo-soprano (Munday Encouragement Award); and John Brancy, baritone (1st place).

Other 2015 award winners were tenor Rexford Tester (Second Place - $10,000); Soprano Ariana Wehr (Third Place - $7,500); and Mezzo-Soprano Allegra de Vita (Munday Encouragement Award - $3,000). Additional finalists who performed in the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competiton were:

Rachel Arky | Mezzo-Soprano
J'nai Bridges | Mezzo-Soprano
Carolina Castells | Soprano
Lisa Chavez | Mezzo-Soprano
Katrina Galka | Soprano
Phoenix Gayles | Soprano
Geoffrey Hoos | Baritone
Samantha Malk | Mezzo-Soprano
Nathan Milholin | Bass-Baritone
Amanda Opuszynski | Soprano
Christopher Yoon | Tenor

These singers distinguished themselves from a field of 125 auditioners and 278 applicants. Judges for the 2015 Finals were Ken Benson, Peter Russell, and Diana Soviero. Judges for the Preliminary Rounds, held Monday-Thursday, were Jensen Foundation Trustees Jane Pardue, Ben Leaptrott, and Oliver Worthington.

About the Jensen Foundation

Fritz and Lavinia Jensen were lifelong supporters of the arts who benefited many musicians and musical organizations during their lives. The Jensen Foundation is dedicated to continuing their philanthropic vision of support for the musical arts. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts, the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, supports young artists pursuing a career in opera. Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, and including this year’s award winners, 99 singers have received more than $500,000 in support. To learn more, visit jensenfoundation.org.

Finalists Announced for the 2015 Jensen Competition

POSTED MAY 22, 2015 – NEW YORK, NY – After four days of preliminary auditions this week, finalists to the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition have been announced. They are:

Rachel Arky | Mezzo-Soprano
John Brancy | Baritone
J'nai Bridges | Mezzo-Soprano
Carolina Castells | Soprano
Lisa Chavez | Mezzo-Soprano
Allegra De Vita | Mezzo-Soprano
Katrina Galka | Soprano
Phoenix Gayles | Soprano
Geoffrey Hoos | Baritone
Samantha Malk | Mezzo-Soprano
Nathan Milholin | Bass-Baritone
Amanda Opuszynski | Soprano
Rexford Tester | Tenor
Ariana Wehr | Soprano
Christopher Yoon | Tenor

The Finals of the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition will be held Saturday, May 23rd at 11 AM at Engelman Recital Hall, Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York. The event is free and open to the public, and the winners will be named at the conclusion of the event.

More than 270 singers applied to perform in the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. One hundred twenty-five singers were heard, and these fifteen finalists were selected. They will compete for more than $36,000 in prize winnings, including:

•    $3,000 for the Munday Encouragement Award winner
•    $7,500 for the Third Prize Winner
•    $10,000 for the Second Place Winner
•    $15,000 for the First Prize Winner, plus participation in OPERA America’s 2016 Emerging Artist Recital Series in NYC

The Jensen Foundation has assembled a distinguished roster of judges for the 2015 Finals Competition. 

  • Ken Benson, CEO of Ken Benson Artists, and previously Vice-President of Columbia Artists Management. He is a Vocal Consultant at Juilliard, and he regularly gives classes and consultations at Yale, UCLA, Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, DePaul, Roosevelt, and Indiana Universities.
  • Peter Russell, General Director of Vocal Arts DC in Washington, DC. He previously served as General Director of Wolf Trap Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Peter is a frequent guest lecturer for Georgetown University’s Continuing Education Series.
  • Diana Soviero is one of the most recognized American opera singers of the twentieth century, a compelling interpreter of the verismo repertoire. She now gives private lessons in her Manhattan Studio and Master Classes across the country. Diana has been awarded the Voice Education Research Award from The Voice Foundation, a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Giulio Gari Foundation and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Gerda Lissner Foundation.

About the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation
Fritz and Lavinia Jensen were lifelong supporters of the arts who benefited many musicians and musical organizations during their lives. The Jensen Foundation is dedicated to continuing their philanthropic vision of support for the musical arts. The centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts, the annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, supports young artists pursuing a career in opera. Since the Competition’s inception in 2000, and including this year’s award winners, 99 singers have received more than $500,000 in support. To learn more, visit jensenfoundation.org.

2015 Audition Details

If you have a confirmed audition date and time for the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, you already received this information in an email. But we post it here as well, just to keep it ever-accessible! Here are hopefully all the details any auditioner will need for the 2015 Competition:

What’s At Stake: The First Prize winner of the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal receives $15,000 and the opportunity to perform in OPERA America’s 2016 Emerging Artist Recital Series at The National Opera Center in New York, a live-streamed and recorded event. The Second Prize winner receives $10,000; Third Prize receives $7,500; an Encouragement Award winner receives $3,000 and automatic entry to the 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. All other finalists receive $750.

Audition Location: The 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition auditions and Finals will be held in Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center (BPAC), located at 55 Lexington Avenue in New York City.  Please enter through the 24th Street entrance, as the 25th Street entrance will be closed. For bus or subway directions, visit the BPAC website.

Your Arrival Time: Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition. Dressing rooms are available. A warm-up space with piano is available but not private. 

You Must Bring With You:  
1.    3 copies of your current resume
2.    1 copy of your headshot
3.    Photocopies of the sheet music for your 6 listed arias, placed in a three-ring binder. No loose music, no stapled music, and no plastic sleeves! 

Your Aria List:  The judges will have a printed score sheet with your arias listed.    

Contacting The Competition Director:  During the audition rounds, email is our primary mode of contact, so please add Competition Director Lisa Gray's email address to your non-spam list:  lisa@jensenfoundation.org. In case of emergencies the week of the competition, please call Lisa at 704-641-4691 or email her.  

Audition Tips:  The judges encourage careful thought to the use of the stage and the demonstration of your dramatic skills during your audition.  Business or semi-formal attire for both the preliminary audition and the Finals are recommended.  

Are You A Finalist?  Finalists will be chosen Thursday evening, May 21, after the last audition has been heard. If you are a finalist, you will receive a call before 10 PM that evening. Please make sure you are available to receive our call! We must confirm your performance time for the final round on Saturday, May 23.  You MUST BE AVAILABLE on Saturday, May 23 from 10 AM to 4 PM.   

If You Are Not A Finalist: On Friday, you will receive an email confirming the list of finalists and encouraging you to attend the Finals. This event is free and open to the public. The Finals performances begin on Saturday, May 23 at 11 AM and are typically complete by 2 PM.  While the judges deliberate, we will have a short program for all attendees entitled “Financial Planning Tips for Starving Artists.” The awards ceremony will begin at approximately 2:30 PM, after which the Finals Judges will be available for a Question-and-Answer panel. 

Cancelling Your Audition:  If you are unable to audition, please contact Competition Director Lisa Gray immediately by email at lisa@jensenfoundation.org or by phone at 704-641-4691.  

Toi Toi Toi to all our 2015 singers!

2015 Accompanists Announced

Singers who participate in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition may bring their own accompanist or opt to use the professional accompanist provided free-of-charge by the Jensen Foundation. We are pleased to announce our acclaimed accompanists for the 2015 Competition: Joan Krueger and Dan Franklin Smith.

Joan Krueger serves on the faculty of Purchase College, teaching French and Italian diction and Operatic Styles. She is also on the faculty of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance summer festival, the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and the Metropolitan International Music Festival. In addition to being in demand as a recital and competition pianist, Ms. Krueger maintains an active coaching studio in New York City. She received her M.M. from University of Michigan and her B.M. from Michigan State University. To learn more, visit her Purchase Opera bio. Ms. Krueger is scheduled to accompany Jensen singers on Monday, May 18; Tuesday, May 19; and Wednesday May 20.

Dan Franklin Smith is a vocal coach and collaborative pianist based in New York City. He serves as Music Director and recital soloist with the international festival, Elysium: Between Two Continents.  In addition to accompanying Jensen Foundation singers in May 2015, Mr. Smith has upcoming performances scheduled in Arizona, New Mexico, Berlin, Munich, Prague, and Stockholm. He graduated as a piano major from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. To learn more, visit his website. Mr. Smith is scheduled to accompany Jensen singers on Thursday, May 21 and on the Finals Day, Saturday, May 23.

Applications Now Being Accepted for 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

POSTED January 20, 2015 – Charlotte, NC – The Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation is now accepting online applications for the 2015 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition to be held May 18-23, 2015 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. Opera professionals who are 25-35 years of age can compete for their share of more than $36,000 in prize money.

“We’ve added an exciting new component to the first prize award this year,” explains Jane Pardue, Jensen Foundation President. “In addition to receiving the significant cash prize of $15,000, our First Prize winner will perform in OPERA America’s 2016 Emerging Artist Recital Series at The National Opera Center in New York. This live-streamed and recorded event is the perfect showcase for a promising young singer who deserves to be better known throughout the broad opera community.”

The Foundation expects 125 singers to audition for the chance to sing in the final competition on Saturday, May 23, 2015 and compete for these awards:

  • First place - $15,000 + participation in OPERA America's Emerging Artist Recital Series in NYC
  • Second place - $10,000
  • Third place - $7,500
  • Munday Encouragement Award - $3,000 and automatic entry into the 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition
  • All remaining finalists will receive $750.

The Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition is open to opera singers who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Will be 25-35 years of age on the first day of the 2015 competition, May 18;
  2. Will have been a permanent legal resident of the United States for at least one year prior to May 18, 2015;
  3. Can demonstrate the active pursuit of a career in opera;
  4. Will not be a past or current recipient of a contract with an OPERA American Budget Level I company or its international equivalent.

Singers can learn more about the competition at the Jensen Foundation website and complete an online application at Yaptracker.com. The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 15, 2015.