Music Academy of the West announces Marilyn Horne Song Competition and Solo Piano Competition winners’ International Recital Tours

Newly-commissioned works by Elizabeth Ogonek and Ricky Ian Gordon receive world premieres  

Santa Barbara, CA — The Music Academy of the West announces two international recital tours: the 2018 Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners mezzo-soprano Kelsey Lauritano and pianist Andrew Sun and the 2018 Solo Piano Competition winner Sophiko Simsive will begin their tours in London (January 11). Presented in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, the recitals will take place at LSO St. Luke’s, the Orchestra’s recital venue and music education and community center in the beautifully preserved 18th century Church of St Luke’s. The programs feature newly-commissioned works by Elizabeth Ogonek (Orpheus Suite) and Ricky Ian Gordon (Without Music), the latter working with the poet Marie Howe, which will receive their world premiere performances during the London recitals. Elizabeth Ogonek, an alumnus of the LSO’s composer development programs which are based at LSO St Luke’s, will attend the London premiere and Ricky Ian Gordon will be present at the New York premiere.. 

Kelsey Lauritano and Andrew Sun will also perform recitals in New York (April 3), Chicago (May 22), and Santa Barbara (May 24). Sophiko Simisive will appear in Chicago (April 10), Santa Barbara (April 26), and Los Angeles (April 28). The Chicago recitals will be broadcast live by WFMT 98.7 FM and streamed live at and the Los Angeles recital will be broadcast live by Classical KUSC. 

The Marilyn Horne Song Competition jury included Honorary Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne, composer Ricky Ian Gordon, Musical Advisor to the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program Ken Noda, and soprano Susanna Phillips. The winners received The Regina Roney Prize, a cash award of $5,000 generously supported by Rick Roney. Ricky Ian Gordon’s song cycle commission Without Music with poetry by Marie Howe is generously supported by Lorna Hedges. They also received a career consultation with 21C Media Group in New York.

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

The Solo Piano Competition jury comprised London Symphony Orchestra Managing Director Kathryn McDowell, composer Elizabeth Ogonek, and Steinway & Sons Manager of Concert/Artist Services Benjamin Salisbury. Ms. Ogonek’s commission Orpheus Suite is generously supported by the Luria Foundation. Ms. Ogonoek was a Composer in Residence at the Music Academy of the West 2018 Summer Festival. Winner Sophiko Simsive was awarded the The Luria Foundation Prize, a $5,000 cash award and a career development consultation session with 21C Media in New York.

The Music Academy of the West International Marilyn Horne Song Competition Recital Tour is generously supported by Lead Sponsor Linda Seltzer Yawitz and Supporting Sponsor Robert W. Weinman.

The Music Academy of the West Solo Piano Competition Recital Tour is generously supported by The Luria Foundation.

London appearances are a part of a new partnership between the Music Academy of the West and London Symphony Orchestra which will also bring 12 alumni instrumentalists from Music Academy of the West 2018 Summer School and Festival to London to take part in 10 days of intensive training with the LSO and LSO Music Director Simon Rattle. The lead sponsors of the partnership are Linda and Michael Keston and Mary Lynn and Warren Staley. Additional support has been provided in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners

Mezzo-soprano Kesley Lauritano, 23, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, recently completed her master’s degree at The Juilliard School, where she also received her bachelor’s degree and was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. Ms. Lauritano will be joining the Oper Frankfurt studio in September of 2018.

Andrew Sun, 26, born in West Windsor, New Jersey, is a collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Currently on the coaching staff at Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Sun joined the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera this past fall. Mr. Sun holds degrees from New York University and Manhattan School of Music, and is an alumnus of the 2017 Merola Opera Program.

About the Solo Piano Competition Winner

Pianist Sophiko Simsive, 26, from Kutaisi, Georgia, is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Boris Berman. Ms. Simsive was the winner of the GrachtenfestivalPrijs 2016 of the Netherlands and was Artist in Residence during the Grachtenfestival 2017. In 2015, Ms. Simsive won the first prize as well as the press prize at the Geertruidenberg Klassiek.

Program Information

Marilyn Horne Song Competition International Tour

Progams include selections from:

SCHUBERT Ganymed, Du Bist die Ruh’, Suleika I

RAVEL Histoires Naturelles

RICKY IAN GORDON Without Music (world premiere)

FALLA Seven Popular Spanish Songs

Jan 11, 6:30 pm / LSO St. Luke’s, London /

Apr 3, 8 pm / National Sawdust, New York /

May 22, 12:15 pm / Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago* /

May 24, 7:30 pm / Hahn Hall, Santa Barbara


Solo Piano Competition International Tour

Programs include selections from:

BACH Italian Concerto, BWV. 971

CHOPIN Preludes, Op. 28

ELIZABETH OGONEK Orpheus Suite (after Rilke) (world premiere)

Jan 11, 1 pm / LSO St. Luke’s, London

Apr 10, 12:15 pm / Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago* /

Apr 26, 7:30 pm / Hahn Hall, Santa Barbara /

Apr 28, 6 pm / LACMA, Los Angeles* /

*live broadcasts (Chicago, WFMT 98.7 / Los Angeles, Classical KUSC)


About the Music Academy of the West

The 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 comprises more than 200 events. The Academy began a four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2018 focused on education and performance on both continents. For more information, visit

Released: December 14, 2018

Lauritano and Sun photos courtesy of the artists. Simisive photo: Phil Channing


Kate Oberjat
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West
[email protected]

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