Santa Barbara, CA — Soprano Hannah Rose Kidwell and pianist Christina Giuca have been selected as the winners of The Music Academy of the West’s 2017 Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Ms. Horne has been the Voice Program Director of the Music Academy since 1997. The event took place on Friday, 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 $5,000, and will be presented in recital at Hahn Hall and in a recital tour that will include an appearance in New York City. The will also receive a career development session with 21C Media Group, professional photos, and a commissioned work by guest composer Jake Heggie to premiere on their tour.
The 2017 Marilyn Horne Song Competition participants included 19 Voice Program fellows and six Vocal Piano fellows, and concluded with a special performance by 2016 winner and returning fellow, baritone Ben Lowe. 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 Mosher guest artist and famed soprano Renée Fleming, and guest composer Jake Heggie, who will compose a song cycle for the winners.
About the Competition Winners
Soprano Hannah Rose Kidwell, 21, born in Montebello, California is a third year bachelor’s student at Chapman University. In Chapman’s opera program, Ms. Kidwell has performed in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Kurt Weill’s After Dark, and portrayed the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Ms. Kidwell most recently made her debut with The Pacific Symphony as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. Ms. Kidwell was a semi-finalist and scholarship winner at the national Classical Singer Competition, the winner of the New Century Singer’s Competition, and the most recent winner of the Vocal and Concerto Competition at Chapman University.
Pianist Christina Giuca, 29, born in Chicago, Illinois, holds degrees from the Shepherd School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory. Ms. Giuca was a répétiteur for Opera in the Heights in Houston. Ms. Giuca was awarded a Collaborative Piano Fellowship at Bard College and has served on music staff for the Houston Ballet, Eastern Music Festival, and SongFest. Ms. Giuca was recently a guest artist at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium. This is her second summer at the Music Academy of the West, having previously attended in 2013.
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, many of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, guest artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2017 Summer School and Festival took place from June 12 to August 5 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit musicacademy.org.