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Soprano Michelle Bradley, Pianist Michael Gaertner Win Music Academy’s Marilyn Horne Competition

Soprano Michelle Bradley and pianist Michael Gaertner have been named winners of the 2014 Music Academy of the West Marilyn Horne Song Competition, which took place Saturday at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall.

Bradley and Gaertner will each receive a cash award of $2,500, and will be presented in recital next year in Santa Barbara, New York and other cities.

One of the most popular events of the summer season at the Music Academy, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition (formerly known as the Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition) is a showcase for academy singers and vocal pianists. Top awards, presented in memory of longtime Music Academy vocal accompaniment faculty member Gwendolyn Koldofsky, are given to the academy singer and vocal pianist who demonstrate excellence in the performance of song repertoire as well as a unique gift for audience communication. The competition regularly attracts industry insiders eager for a glimpse of up-and-coming talent.

Joining world-renowned concert and opera singer Marilyn Horne as jurors this year were Barbara Hocher, former executive director of the Marilyn Horne Foundation and currently a consultant for the Marilyn Horne Legacy at Carnegie Hall; Jeremy Geffen, director of artistic planning at Carnegie Hall; Academy faculty member Matthew Epstein, former director of Columbia Artists Vocal; Alexander Neef, general director of the Canadian Opera Company; and Craig Terry, music director of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Horne has directed the Academy’s renowned Voice Program since 1997. All told, 22 singers and five vocal pianists competed this year. All are attending the Music Academy this summer.

Previous winners of the competition have included baritone John Brancy and pianist Mario Antonio Marra (2013); soprano Tracy Cox and pianist Maureen Zoltek (2012); soprano Karen Vuong and pianist Saule Tlenchiyeva (2011); soprano Megan Hart and pianist Sun Ha “Sunny” Yoon (2010); mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller, tenor Jeffrey Hill, and pianist Lio Kuokman (2009); soprano Simone Osborne, baritone Edward Parks, and pianist In-Sun Suh (2008); soprano Nadine Sierra and pianist Karen Kyung-Eun Na (2007); Santa Barbara’s own Evan Hughes (2006); soprano Elaine Alvarez, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and pianist Tamara Sanikidze (2005); mezzo-soprano Daniela Lehner and pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone (2004); mezzo-soprano Megan Latham and pianist Carol Wong (2003); mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski and pianist Jerome Tan (2002); tenor Ramon Diggs and pianist Nino Sanikidze (2001); baritone Nicolai Janitzky, mezzo-soprano Liesel Fedkenheuer, and pianists Ji Young Lee and Spencer Myer (2000).

Remaining highlights of the Music Academy’s 2014 season include a new production of Georges Bizet’s popular opera Carmen as well as the Academy debut of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, who will conduct members of the Academy Festival Orchestra at the Lobero Theatre on July 26 as part of a new multiyear partnership with the Philharmonic. Additional highlights will include performances by cellist Joshua Roman and pianist Stephen Hough, as well as conducting turns by Thomas Adès and James Gaffigan. Featuring the Academy’s exceptionally talented Fellows, together with illustrious guest performers and faculty, the events will be presented in venues throughout Santa Barbara. The Music Academy’s 67th annual Summer Festival concludes Aug. 9.

For tickets and information, call 805.969.8787. Information is also available online by clicking here.

— Tim Dougherty is the communications manager for the Music Academy of the West.

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