Meet Our 2019 Finals Judges

The 2019 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition Finals will be judged by this slate of internationally recognized opera professionals. Our Finals Judges have graciously agreed to offer feedback to all finalists who wish to stay after the competition on Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Soprano Harolyn Blackwell has performed with opera companies and at festivals around the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires, San Francisco Opera, Netherlands Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Nice, Miami Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Ravinia Festival. At the Metropolitan Opera, she has appeared in La Fille du Régiment, Un Ballo in Maschera, Le Nozze di Figaro, Manon, Die Fledermaus, and Werther. As an advocate for Arts Education, Miss Blackwell is a Board Member of The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Voice Foundation, The Martina Arroyo Foundation, The George London Foundation, and The Morgan Library. She is a member of The Artists Committee for The Kennedy Center Honors and has also served on the Artists Selection Committee for The Marian Anderson Competition and The NEA Awards. To learn more, visit her website.

Maestro Vincent de Kort, born in the Netherlands, is in high demand with the world's leading opera houses and festivals, including Mariinsky Theatre St Petersburg (invited by Valery Gergiev), Royal Swedish Opera, Bolshoi Theatre Moscow, Oper Leipzig, Scottish Opera, Semperoper Dresden, New National Theatre Tokyo, Vienna’s Schönbrunn Festival, Edinburgh Festival and the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg. In 1995, after a career as a cellist, he made his conducting debut with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. De Kort’s engagements include appearances with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Mariinsky Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Netherlands Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, New Japan Philharmonic. Having studied with Mariss Jansons in Oslo, he continued his studies in St. Petersburg with Ilya Musin and was the assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink, William Christie, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky. Mr. de Kort is jury chairman of the highly popular Dutch TV show MAESTRO. In addition to his performing career, de Kort is a passionate marathon runner. To learn more, visit his website.

William Powers is Managing Director at PittsburghOpera, having served earlier as Administrative Director for the Juilliard School’s Department of Vocal Arts and the Juilliard Opera Center. He subsequently joined the Metropolitan Opera’s Artistic Department as the Associate Administrator in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and served in the Met’s Rehearsal Department. Mr. Powers was General Director of the Berkshire Opera Company and held posts at The Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Opera Theater Center. Mr. Powers has judged for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served on the Board of Directors of OPERA America. Mr. Powers holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Hamilton College and an MBA in Finance from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He is also an alumnus of the Juilliard School’s Professional Intern Program.

More information about our 2019 Vocal Competition:

Announcing our 2019 Slate of Preliminary-Round Judges

The Jensen Foundation recruits a talented and tireless group of opera professionals who hear the 100+ singers awarded auditions for the competition each year. These folks share the exciting and difficult responsibility of choosing performers for the Finals. Meet the singers and teachers who will be our Preliminary Judges for the 2019 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition.

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Kirsten Chambers, soprano, has portrayed the title role of Salome at the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Hong Kong, and Florida Grand Opera. Her Carnegie Hall debut was Maria in Richard Strauss’ Friedenstag with the American Symphony Orchestra. She joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in Tristan und Isolde and will rejoin the Metropolitan Opera roster next season for Die Walküre. She made her European debut with the Savonlinna Opera Festival as Elsa in Lohengrin, a role she also performed with Opéra de Rennes and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Upcoming in Boston is a debut of her favorite Strauss role, Die Ägyptische Helena. Ms. Chambers earned degrees from Illinois Wesleyan University and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Visit her website to learn more.

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R. Benjamin Leaptrott, Jr. is assistant professor of music with a specialty in collaborative arts at Brenau University and also an Artist in Residence at Brenau with The Leaptrott Trio. He is an active recitalist, vocal coach, and accompanist, serving as accompanist for the district and regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from East Carolina University, a Masters of Music Degree from Eastman School of Music, and a Solo Diploma from Sweelinck Academy at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Mr. Leaptrott is Vice President of the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation.

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Oliver Worthington, baritone, is an assistant professor of music at Butler University and will also teach at Opera Viva in Verona, Italy in the summer of 2019. He has performed extensively as an opera singer, oratorio soloist, and recitalist, appearing with San Antonio Opera, San Antonio Symphony, Austin Opera, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, among others. Dr. Worthington maintains a full schedule as an educator and performer and serves as the President of The Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation.  

Meet our Accompanists for the 2019 Competition

At the Jensen Competition, we understand how the collaboration between singer and accompanist can make a performance shine. So we engage renowned accompanists and make them available, free-of-charge, to each of our auditioners. Meet our (your!) 2019 accompanists.

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Shane Schag serves on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and at Operaworks in Los Angeles. He has worked in the capacity of vocal coach for Centro Studi Italiani Opera Festival and as an assistant conductor for the Gotham Chamber Opera. In 2007, Mr. Schag made his debut at Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall), and now he serves as staff pianist for Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers concert series, which reaches out to public schools across the tri-state area. Mr. Schag earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Ashland University of Ohio, a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music. He will accompany Jensen singers on Monday, May 13.

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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 Tuesday and Wednesday, May 14-15.

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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 Thursday, May 216, and on the Finals Day, Saturday, May 18.

Soprano Felicia Moore Takes First Place at 2018 Jensen Competition

MAY 26 2018 – NEW YORK CITY, NY – Today, the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation awarded Felicia Moore First Place in the 19th annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition in New York City. For the final day of the competition, Ms. Moore, a soprano, performed “L’altra notte in fondo al mare” from Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, “O smania!...D’Oreste d’Ajace” from Idomeneo by Mozart, and “Do not utter a word” from Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. Ms. Moore received $15,000 as first place winner.

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Ms. Moore recently recently received her Artist Diploma in Opera Studies from The Julliard School. She will be traveling to France as a Resident in the Aix-en-Provence Festival's Mozart Académie, and then she will be in Germany as a participant of the International Meistersinger Akademie. Said Ms. Moore of her Jensen win, “I’m in shock and am honored to have won First Prize. This award will help me pay for lessons and coachings next year as I learn roles for upcoming seasons. I am very humbled and grateful to the Jensen Foundation for enabling me to continue my studies next year.” Visit Ms. Moore's website here.

Other 2018 Jensen award winners were baritone Emmett O’Hanlon (Second Place Award Winner - $10,000), bass-baritone Alex Soare (Third Place Award Winner - $7,500), and soprano Helena Brown (Munday Encouragement Award Winner - $3,000). 

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Additional finalists who performed in the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition were:

Danielle Beckvermit | Soprano
Timothy Bruno | Bass
Hidenori Inoue | Bass
Laura Leon | Soprano
Jana McIntyre | Soprano
Daniel Moody | Countertenor
Bryan Murray | Baritone
Corrie Stallings | Mezzo-Soprano
Jorell Williams | Baritone

These singers distinguished themselves from a field of 112 auditioners and 254 applicants. Judges for the 2018 Jensen Finals were Ian Derrer, Lauren Flanigan, and Steven White (Read their bios here.) Judges for the Preliminary Rounds, held Monday-Thursday, were Ben Leaptrott (Brenau University), Carleen Graham (Houston Grand Opera), and Oliver Worthington (Butler University). The 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition was held May 21-26 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, 138 singers have received more than $650,000 in support. 

Finalists Announced for 2018 Jensen Competition

POSTED MAY 24, 2018 – NEW YORK, NY – After four days of preliminary auditions this week, finalists to the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition have been announced. They are:

Danielle Beckvermit | Soprano
Helena Brown | Soprano
Timothy Bruno | Bass
Hidenori Inoue | Bass
Laura Leon | Soprano
Jana McIntyre | Soprano
Daniel Moody | Countertenor
Felicia Moore | Soprano
Bryan Murray | Baritone
Emmett O'Hanlon | Baritone
Alex Soare | Bass-Baritone
Corrie Stallings | Mezzo-Soprano
Jorell Williams | Baritone

These thirteen singers compete for more than $40,000 in awards this Saturday, May 26th 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 by a distinguished panel of Finals Judges:

  • In July 2018, Ian Derrer returns to The Dallas Opera as general director after two seasons at the helm of Kentucky Opera. He has served in production and administrative roles with Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Atlanta Opera, Opera Carolina, and New York City Opera, among others. Mr. Derrer holds degrees from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, Northwestern University, and Brooklyn College.
  • Internationally acclaimed soprano Lauren Flanigan is the Founder of Music and Mentoring House which offers training and mentoring programs for opera singers in New York City. She has enjoyed a thirty-year career that includes performances at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Glyndebourne, 10 world premieres, 1 movie, 11 recordings, 5 Live From Lincoln Center telecasts, and 15 awards for musical and humanitarian work.
  • Steven White is one of North America’s premiere conductors of both symphonic and operatic repertoire. He has conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, and many others. Maestro White is a master-class clinician and a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

More than 250 singers applied to perform in the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. Ninety-six singers were heard, and these thirteen finalists were selected. They compete for:

  • $15,000, First Place Award
  • $10,000, Second Place Award
  • $7,500, Third Place Award
  • $3,000, Munday Encouragement Award
  • Each non-award-winning finalist receives $750.

The Jensen Foundation thanks its judges for the preliminary rounds of the 2018 Competition: Mr. Ben Leaptrott of Brenau University; Ms. Carleen Graham of Houston Grand Opera; and Mr. Oliver Worthington of Butler University.

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, 138 singers have received more than $650,000 in support. 
 

Meet Our 2018 Finals Judges

The Jensen Foundation thanks the esteemed opera professionals who served as Finals Judges for its 2018 Vocal Competition, held Saturday, May 26 2018 in Engelman Recital Hall at New York City's Baruch Performing Arts Center. 

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Ian Derrer
In July 2018, Ian Derrer returns to The Dallas Opera as general director after two seasons at the helm of Kentucky Opera. He has served in production and administrative roles with Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Atlanta Opera, Opera Carolina, and New York City Opera, among others. His love of opera began as a member of the children’s chorus in Tosca for Charlotte Opera, now Opera Carolina. Mr. Derrer holds degrees from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, Northwestern University, and Brooklyn College. 

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Lauren Flanigan
Internationally acclaimed soprano Lauren Flanigan is the Founder/Director of Music and Mentoring House, a not-for-profit organization that offers training and mentoring programs for opera singers in New York City. She has enjoyed a thirty-year career that included performances at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Bayerisches Staatsoper, Glyndebourne, the New York City Opera, 10 world premieres, 1 movie, 11 cd’s, 5 Live From Lincoln Center telecasts, and 15 awards for musical and humanitarian work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation.

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Steven White
Praised by Opera News as a conductor who “squeezes every drop of excitement and pathos from the score,” Steven White is one of North America’s premiere conductors of both symphonic and operatic repertoire. He has conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for a CHANDOS recording of arias. Maestro White is a master-class clinician and a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He has served as an artist-in-residence with Peabody Conservatory, Indiana University, University of Cincinnati—College-Conservatory of Music, Virginia Tech University, and the University of Miami Frost School of Music at Salzburg. 

Apply Now to Be Part of the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition

The Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation is now accepting online applications from opera professionals 25-35 years of age for the 2018 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. Singers can apply at Yaptracker.com to compete for their share of more than $40,000 in prize money. The annual competition takes place May 21-26, 2018 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. 

The Foundation expects 100 singers to audition for the chance to sing in the final competition on Saturday, May 26, 2018 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 2019 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:

  • 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 21, 2018;
  • must be between the ages of 25 and 35 as of May 21, 2018;
  • 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 complete an online application at Yaptracker.com. The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 18, 2018. 

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, 126 young singers have received more than a $580,000 in support. 
 

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.