The 2018 awards and grants to seven singers with Wagnerian potential, totaling $13,000, were announced by Scott Carlton, Artistic Director of the Society’s Singer programs. The top two winners are:
Helena Brown, soprano – Robert Lauch Memorial Fund Award: $6,000. Lauded as having a “stunningly large round sound,” as well as a “steely, velvety” timbre, American dramatic soprano, Helena Brown, is quickly distinguishing herself as a force of nature for the international stages. She was recently awarded the Sergio Franchi Award in the Deborah Voigt/Vero Beach Opera Competition, Second Place in the Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Vocal Competition, as well as awards from the Cooper-Bing, Opera at Florham, Opera Birmingham, and Opera Ebony Benjamin Matthews vocal competitions. Helena additionally received grants from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation, and Encouragement Grants from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Philadelphia, Jensen Foundation, the Wagner Society of New York, and the MetroWest Opera Vocal Competition in Boston. Click here to learn more.
Megan Nielson, soprano – Ursula Springer Memorial Fund Award: $2,000. Megan Nielson has triumphed in roles including Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly (Regina Opera), Nedda in Pagliacci (Opera Ithaca & Amore Opera), Tatiana in Eugene Onegin (Utopia Opera), the title role in Tosca (New York Opera, Opera Ithaca, Regina Opera, Chelsea Opera), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Festival Opera de San Luis – Mexico & Opera Ithaca), Judith in Bluebeard’s Castle (Opera Ithaca), Mimì in La Bohème (CoOperative), Chrysothemis in Elektra (Manhattan Opera Studio), the title role in Suor Angelica (Chelsea Opera & Manhattan Opera Studio), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Fiordigligi in Così fan tutte, and Meg March in Little Women (Knoxville Opera). She received her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Kansas City – Missouri and her Masters in Voice and Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Ms. Nielson is a student of Ms. Laura Brooks Rice and coaches with Mr. Thomas Bagwell. Click here to learn more.
Brooke Dircks, soprano – $1,000 encouragement grant. Brooke Dircks is a Masters student at New England Conservatory, where she studies with Jane Eaglen. She has been a featured participant as a young artist with the Miami Opera Festival, Little Patuxent Opera Institute, and the American Institute of Music in Graz, Austria, where she received 3rd place in the prestigious Meistersinger competition. In 2017 she received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in New Orleans. Ms. Dircks was awarded a presidential distinction scholarship as both an undergraduate and graduate at New England Conservatory. Click here to learn more.
Amanda Zory, soprano – $1,000 encouragement grant. Hailed as, “the real deal!” by Maestro James Conlon, American soprano Amanda Zory has recently been awarded 2nd place in the New Jersey State Opera – Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition to rave reviews and is a Grant winner for the Wagner Society of New York’s 2018 Grant and Awards competition. After performing Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin (Act II) at the New World Center under the direction of Maestro Michael Rossi and the 95 piece orchestra of the Miami Music Festival 2018, Ms. Zory has returned to New York City to premiere the title role in Puccini’s Turandot at the National Opera Center. Click here to learn more.
Jessine Johnson, soprano – $1,000 encouragement grant. Jessine Johnson studied music (performance – voice/opera) at The Juilliard School. She previously attended University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music and New England Conservatory Of Music, Boston. She Lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She is originally from Thousand Oaks, California. Click here to learn more.
Alec Carlson, tenor – $1,000 encouragement grant. Originally from Red Oak, Iowa, Alec Carson lives in Pennington, New Jersey. He studied music and voice performance at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and studied Vocal performance at Luther College. He was a Studio Artist for Wolf Trap Opera Company at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and an apprentice artist at Santa Fe Opera. Click here to learn more.
Karmesha K. Peake, mezzo soprano – $1,000 encouragement grant. Karmesha K. Peake is a New York City-based American Mezzo Soprano with a voice of power and beauty. Thus far in 2018, she has sung the role of Waltraute in Die Walküre with Trilogy: An Opera Company. She also covered Kundry for the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Lecture Recital on Parsifal presented by Jane Marsh, Soprano. She sang Aunt Lizzy in a read through of Mary Watkins’ newest opera Emmett Till with Harlem Opera Theater. Click here to learn more.
On October 18, 2018, 17 singers were heard by a panel of judges consisting of Ken Benson, Scott Carlton, Cori Ellison and Eve Queler. Nathalie Wagner attended ex officio.