Music Academy of the West announces the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners and Solo Piano Competition Winner recital tours, making appearances in New York, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., and London
Concert programs include world premieres commissioned by the Music Academy written by Jennifer Higdon and Amy Williams
Santa Barbara, CA — The Music Academy of the West announces tours for the winners of its highly competitive, annual Marilyn Horne Song Competition and Solo Piano Competition in partnership with Steinway & Sons. Competition winners will perform on multi-city recital tours throughout March and April 2020 in New York, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., and London.
It is always a special honor to introduce a new piece of music to the world. As developing young professionals, it is especially meaningful to us to present music by a composer as celebrated as Jennifer Higdon. We thank Jennifer for this stunningly beautiful song cycle, and the Music Academy of the West for giving us the opportunity to share it.
— Sun-Ly Pierce & Chien-Lin Lu
I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to create a new piece for Sun-Ly Pierce and Chien-Lin Lu, the Marilyn Horne Competition Winners. Shortly after returning from my residency at the Music Academy of the West, I was walking one evening in Philadelphia, and looked up to see a very bright moon gazing down on me. I thought about how that celestial body has always been present, watching silently, and inspiring everyone from poets penning lines to astronauts pushing the boundaries of space. And for this composer, it felt like a noble starting point for creating songs for these talented performers.
— Jennifer Higdon
About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition
Mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce and pianist Chien-Lin Lu were selected as the winners of the Music Academy of the West’s 2019 Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Ms. Horne served as Voice Program Director of the Music Academy from 1997 to 2017 and transitioned to the position of Honorary Voice Program Director in 2018. The fierce competition is one of the most popular events of the Music Academy Summer School & Festival, in which singers and pianists alike compete to win the Regina Roney cash prize of $5,000 each, a national and international recital tour, and career consultations with music career experts 21C Media Group.
The 2019 Marilyn Horne Song Competition participants included 21 singers and six pianists. All attended the Music Academy’s 2019 Summer Festival on full scholarship. Joining world-renowned concert and opera singer Marilyn Horne as jurors this year were Music Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio Michael Heaston and composer Jennifer Higdon.
Three-time Grammy-Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon was the Music Academy of the West’s 2019 Composer-in-Residence advising for and speaking about a fully staged production of her opera Cold Mountain and several of her chamber works. She composed the song cycle Wise Moon to be premiered on this international tour by the winners of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition.
Higdon’s fine vocal writing and thoughtful choice of texts marks her as a valuable addition to the American song repertoire.
— South Florida Classical Review
The Song Competition winners’ 2020 recital tour will include appearances at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara (Friday, April 10, 7:30 pm), National Sawdust in New York (Monday, April 13, 7 pm), Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Wednesday, April 15, 12:15 pm), and LSO St. Luke’s in London (Friday, April 24, 1 pm). The Chicago recital will be broadcast live by WFMT 98.7 FM and streamed live at wfmt.com.
The Music Academy of the West International Marilyn Horne Song Competition Recital Tour is generously supported by Linda Seltzer Yawitz. Wise Moon was commissioned by Music Academy of the West with the generous support of Stephen Schaible and Daron Builta.
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), Susanna Phillips (‘02, ’03), and Nadine Sierra (’07), and pianist Spencer Myer (‘98,’00).
About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners
Mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce (’19), 25, born in Clinton, New York is a graduate of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory, , recently won first place in Houston Grand Opera’s 2020 Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias. Ms. Pierce is a graduate of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory, and she has appeared with Albany Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Now, and Broad Street Orchestra. Roles performed include Nada in Ana Sokolović’s Svadba-Wedding, Olivia in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, Suor Pazienza in Giordano’s Mese Mariano, and Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
Pianist Chien-Lin Lu (’14, ’15, ’19), 32, born in Taipei, Taiwan, is a doctoral student at the University of Texas Butler School of Music who earned his master’s degree at San Francisco Conservatory. Mr. Lu was the winner of the 60th Corpus Christi International Music Competition and has collaborated with artists such as Donnie Ray Albert, Josef Špaček, DaXun Zhang, Julia Lichten, Patricia McCarty, Gerardo Ribeiro, Kikuei Ikeda, Sandy Yamamoto, and Bion Tsang. Mr. Lu currently serves on staff for the Meadowmount School of Music.
About the Solo Piano Competition
Elliot Wuu was selected as the winner of the Music Academy’s third annual Solo Piano Competition Winner Recital Tour in partnership with Steinway & Sons. The eight 2019 Solo Piano fellows competed to win The Luria Foundation Prize of $5,000, a multi-city recital tour, and a career consultation with music career experts 21C Media Group. Each pianist performed a recital up to 30 minutes in length of varying styles for the jury and a public audience. One work must have been written in or after 1975.
Jurors this year were the Music Academy Director of Collaborative Piano Jonathan Feldman, Steinway & Sons Manager of Concert-Artist Services Benjamin Salisbury, Music Academy vocal coach and pianist Tamara Sanikidze, and composer Amy Williams (pictured), who has written Piano Portraits to be premiered on the tour. Piano Portraits is dedicated the memory of Amy Williams’ dear friend and collaborator, composer/conductor Erik Oña (1961-2019).
Mr. Wuu’s 2020 recital tour will include appearances at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara (Tuesday, March 10, 6 pm), the National Gallery in Washington D.C. (Friday, March 27, 12:10 pm), and the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Wednesday, April 1, 12:15 pm). The Chicago recital will be broadcast live by WFMT 98.7 FM and streamed live at wfmt.com.
The Music Academy of the West’s Solo Piano Competition Recital Tour is sponsored by the Luria Foundation.
The Music Academy of the West is proud to be designated as an All-Steinway School. The Academy has joined the ranks of music schools and conservatories that demonstrate a full commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best instruments possible. That is why the only pianos owned by the Music Academy now and in perpetuity — from the practice room to the recital hall — are designed by Steinway & Sons.
About the Solo Piano Competition Winner
Solo Piano fellow Elliot Wuu (’19), 20, born in Fremont, California, is an undergraduate at The Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Robert McDonald. The recently named Young Steinway Artist and 2018 Gilmore Young Artist is also a 2014-2016 Young Scholar of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation and a MTAC Young Artist Guild Member. Mr. Wuu also appeared on NPR’s From the Top.
Recital Programs & Tour Details
Marilyn Horne Song Competition International Tour
Programs include selections from:
CANTELOUBE Chants d’Auvergne (Series No. 1)
WOLF Spanisches Liederbuch
WONJU LEE 이화우 (Yihwawoo Songbook)
JENNIFER HIGDON Wise Moon Song Cycle (world premiere, Music Academy commission)
BRITTEN Funeral Blues
ISABELLE ABOULKER Lettre d’amour
WILLIAM BOLCOM Amor
Apr 10, 7:30 pm / Hahn Hall, Santa Barbara / musicacademy.org/song-recital
Apr 13, 7 pm / National Sawdust, New York / nationalsawdust.org
Apr 15, 12:15 pm / Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago* / imfchicago.org
Apr 24, 1 pm / LSO St. Luke’s, London / lso.co.uk/lso-st-lukes
Solo Piano Competition Recital Tour
Progams include selections from:
BACH Capriccio sopra la lonrananza del suo fratello dilettissimo
AMY WILLIAMS Piano Portraits (world premiere, Music Academy commission)
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3
SCHUBERT Wanderer Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15
Mar 10, 6 pm / Hahn Hall, Santa Barbara / musicacademy.org/piano-recital
Mar 27, 12:10 pm / National Gallery, Washington, D.C. / nga.gov/calendar/concerts
Apr 1, 12:15 pm / Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago* / imfchicago.org
*live broadcasts (Chicago, WFMT 98.7)
Tickets for the Santa Barbara, Hahn Hall appearances will be available for purchase starting Monday, February 10.
About Music Academy of the West
Music Academy of the West advances the development of 21st century classically trained musicians and cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences. Founded in 1947, the Academy operates on a 10-acre, ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, California. Music Academy of the West’s world-renowned eight-week Summer Festival offers nearly 200 public events. Programs comprise voice, vocal piano, collaborative piano, instrumental, and solo piano. The Academy began a four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2018 focused on education and performance on both continents. An Innovation Institute supports alumni entrepreneurship with the Alumni Enterprise Awards and an annual residential. In the local community 200 young people participate in the Academy’s expanding choral program, Sing!. For more information, visit musicacademy.org.
Released: Feb 5, 2020
Fellow photos by Phil Channing
Higdon, Williams photos courtesy of the artists
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West