Baritone Ben Lowe and pianist Madeline Slettedahl will perform in recital on tour in March 2017 in Houston, Santa Barbara, Chicago, and New York City


Santa Barbara, CA — The Music Academy of the West proudly hosts the nation’s premiere competition for song recitals, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Academy fellows have competed annually since 1997, performing for a panel of esteemed judges. Winners receive the Regina Roney Prize of $4,000 each, and are presented in a national recital tour which includes Houston at St. Paul’s Methodist Church (Thursday, March 9, 12:15 pm), Santa Barbara at Hahn Hall on the campus of the Music Academy of the West  (Saturday, March 11, 7 pm), Chicago on air at the WFMT studios (Tuesday, March 14, 1 pm), and New York City at the National Opera Center (Friday, March 17, 7 pm).

In addition to the award and recitals, artist winners receive coaching from Marilyn Horne and the Academy Voice Program faculty artists, as well as consultations with New York-based communications firm 21C Media Group and professional photos.

The 2016 winners of the Competition, baritone Ben Lowe and pianist Madeline Slettedahl, will perform an all-English language program including music of Barber, Hogan, Holst, Ireland, William Bolcom, and Music Academy 2017 Mosher Guest Artist Matthew Aucoin. Admission for these events will be free in Houston and NYC, and affordably priced at $10 in Santa Barbara, with 7-17 year olds admitted free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.

The competition and winner’s recital tour has been generously supported by The Little One and The Lucky One Foundations.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners

Ben Lowe, baritone (’16), 31, born in Anchorage, Alaska, is a graduate of University of California Los Angeles Herb Albert School of Music where he studied under Vladimir Chernov. Mr. Lowe received his undergraduate degree in music from California State University Dominguez Hills. He 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. Mr. Lowe has been a featured soloist in many concert venues around the greater Los Angeles area, including Our Lady of Angels Cathedral, the Broad Stage, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Mr. Lowe studied with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West where he performed the role of Bonobo in the west coast premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Second Nature.

Madeline Slettedahl, piano (’16), 24, born in Seattle, Washington, earned her master’s degree at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in 2016. 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. Production work includes the role of  rehearsal pianist for The Bartered Bride at Music Academy of the West under the baton of Matthew Aucoin, and rehearsal pianist for Opera in the Heights productions of Menotti's operas The Telephone and The Medium.  She most recently participated in Carnegie Hall’s 2017 The Song Continues series in masterclasses by Marilyn Horne, Margo Garrett, and Dame Felicity Lott. Ms. Slettedahl begins a two-year residency with the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago this May.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition
The Horne Competition, which uniquely awards equal prizes to pianists and singers, is presented in memory of longtime Music Academy faculty artist Gwendolyn Koldofsky, one of the great teachers of collaborative piano of the 20th century. 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.

The competition helps to launch the career of young promising opera singers and pianists. Previous Marilyn Horne Song Competition vocal winners are performing leading and featured roles in major opera houses around the globe. In the United States, winners have performed at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera and Los Angeles Opera, among others. Past winners have included Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard and San Francisco Opera star Nadine Sierra. Winning pianists include Steinway Artist Spencer Myer, Los Angeles Opera assistant conductor Nino Sanikidze, and international concert pianist and Laureate Award winner Carol Wong.  

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, many 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 2017 Summer School and Festival takes place from June 12 to August 5 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit


Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners Recital Tour

Ben Lowe baritone

Madeline Slettedahl piano


IRELAND Songs of the Sea: Sea FeverBillee Bowline; Here’s to Ships

HOLST Vedic Hymns: Usha (Dawn); Varuna II (The Waters); Faith

BARBER James Joyce Songs: Rain has FallenSleep NowI Hear an Army

MATTHEW AUCOIN Three Whitman Songs: The Sleepers; Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; A Clear Midnight

HOGAN Gospel Songs: Give Me Jesus; Deep River; He’s got the Whole World in His Hands

WILLIAM BOLCOM Mini Cabs: I Feel Good; People Change; Those; Food Song #1; Food Song #2; I Will Never Forgive You; Songette; Not Even a Haiku; Maxim #1; Maxim #2; Anyone; Finale: Mystery of the Song

Program is subject to change.


Thu, Mar 9, 12:15 pm

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street, Houston

Free Admission / 713-528-0527 


Sat, Mar 11, 7 pm

Hahn Hall, 1070 Fairway Road, Santa Barbara

$10 / 7-17s Free / 805-969-8787


Tue, Mar 14, 1 pm

WFMT, 5400 N St. Louis Avenue, Chicago

Live Broadcast  / 773-583-5000


Fri, Mar 17, 7 pm

National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York City

Free Admission /212-796-8620


Photos: Carlos Eric Lopez


Released: February 17, 2017


Kate Oberjat

Director of Marketing and Communications

Music Academy of the West


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