2016 Winners Madeline Slettedahl and Ben Lowe. Photo Phil Channing


Santa Barbara, CA — Baritone Ben Lowe and pianist Madeline Slettedahl have been selected as the winners of The Music Academy of the West’s 2016 Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Ms. Horne has been the Voice Program Director of the Music Academy since 1997. The event took place on Thursday, August 4 at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. The winners will each receive the Regina Roney Prize of $4,000, and will be presented in recital at Hahn Hall and in a recital tour that will include The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in partnership with WQXR, New York’s classical music station.

The 2016 Marilyn Horne Song Competition participants included 20 Voice Program fellows and six Vocal Piano fellows. All are attending the Music Academy’s Summer Festival on full scholarship. Joining world-renowned concert and opera singer Marilyn Horne as jurors this year were Margo Garrett, chair of the collaborative piano department at the University of Minnesota; Barbara Hocher, former Executive Director of the Marilyn Horne Foundation and a past juror for the Metropolitan Opera National Council; Nicholas Mathias, Global Artistic Management Consultant with IMG Artists in the London office; and Emmanuel Villaume, Music Director of the Dallas Opera and Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia.


About the Competition Winners

Baritone Ben Lowe, 30, born in Anchorage, Alaska, is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles Herb Albert School of Music, where he studied with Maestro Vladimir Chernov. Mr. Lowe was the 2014 winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon Performance Scholarship Competition and was a finalist in the 2014 Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

Pianist Madeline Slettedahl, 24, born in Seattle, Washington, is a master's student at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Ms. Slettedahl has worked with the Marrowstone Festival and Western Washington University, made her collaborative debut with the Icicle Creek Chamber Players, and premiered a work written for her by Roger Briggs.


About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition

The Marilyn Horne Song Competition is presented in memory of Gwendolyn Koldofsky.

Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky, a distinguished accompanist and long-time member of the Music Academy faculty, had a profound impact on both the art of accompanying and music education. Born in Canada in 1906, she attended Toronto’s Royal Conservatory; she continued her studies in London and Paris. In a long and distinguished career, Koldofsky collaborated with many illustrious vocal artists and instrumentalists. Today she is perhaps best known for her work with soprano Lotte Lehmann and Marilyn Horne, with whom Koldofsky toured for ten years. Ms. Horne recalls, “She was my teacher, mentor, accompanist, and my dear friend. Gwen was living proof that there are those who can both do and teach.” A revolutionary pedagogue, Koldofsky established the Department of Accompanying at the University of Southern California in 1947, the first program of its kind. “The music tells us what to do” was her credo. Koldofsky died in 1998 in Santa Barbara at the age of 92.

Each singer performs three songs of varying styles for the jury and a public audience. One song must be sung in English. The pianists perform with one or multiple singers and award winners may or not have performed together. Past winners include Metropolitan Opera stars Evan Hughes (‘05,’06), Isabel Leonard (‘05), and Nadine Sierra (’07), and pianist Spencer Myer (‘98,’00).


About the Music Academy of the West
The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classically-trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished teaching artists roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, nearly half of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2016 Summer School and Festival took place from June 13 to August 6 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit musicacademy.org.


Released: August 5, 2016


Kate Oberjat

Director of Marketing and Communications

Music Academy of the West