Monday, April 27, 2015

AMAZING NIGHT at Symphony Center, Chicago, for The American Prize Schorr-winning soloists

An amazing night at Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, Chicago, Sunday, April 26, 2015: eight winners of The American Prize / Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Chicago Musical Theater Award (from left: Kate Ryan, Justin John Moniz, Elizabeth Kling, DelShawn Taylor, Karen Archbold, Tania Coambs, Christian Ketter and Dan Richardson), following the shouting, whistling, rhythmic-clapping standing ovation for "Something Wonderful: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein" with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Elgin Master Chorale, all under the direction of TAP chief judge David Katz.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chicago Musical Theater Award winners announced. Perform at Chicago's Orchestra Hall / Symphony Center April 26, 2015

The American Prize is pleased to announce the solo quartet and four cover artists for "SOMETHING WONDERFUL—the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein," 2015 winners of the Chicago Musical Theater Award.

The winning vocal quartet and cover artists will participate in two performances of SOMETHING WONDERFUL, presented by The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and the CBA Chorus, David Katz, conductor, in partnership with the Elgin Master Chorale, Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm in the Blizzard Theater at Elgin Community College, Elgin, IL, and again on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 7:30 pm at Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall, Chicago.

PURCHASE Elgin tickets here.
PURCHASE Chicago tickets here.

The FOUR WINNERS of the Chicago Musical Theater Award, 2015 are:
Born in Cumaná, Venezuela, Tania Arazi Coambs is a passionate and versatile performer, stage director, and writer.  Recognized for her “searing and intense acting and singing”, she has appeared internationally at the Shaw Theatre in London; St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome; the Urbania City Theater in Italy; the Errol Hill Theater in Bridgetown, Barbados; Muson Centre in Lagos, Nigeria; and with the Amadeus Opern Ensemble in Salzburg, Austria.  She has also performed with the Allerton Music Barn Festival, Opera Venezuela, the Pittsburgh Savoyards, Station Theatre, Illinois Opera Theater, and with the Danville Symphony Orchestra.  Previous roles include Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Gretel in Hansel und Gretel, Aline in The Sorcerer, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Linfea in La Calisto, Arsena in Der Zigeunerbaron, Edith in The Pirates of Penzance, Annie in The Game of Love, Wren in A Body of Water, Nurse Ruth Kelley in Harvey, and Mrs. Webb in Our Town, as well as originating the role of Dr. Vivian Watson in an international tour to Barbados, England, and Nigeria of the play Preemptive.

With her strong interest in Spanish music and art song, as well as in jazz, French cabaret, and tango music, she has performed in concerts around the Midwest with groups such as the George Turner Trio, Tango Espejo, Tempest Performers, as well as presented recitals at the Mid-America Guitar Festival, the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Tania’s recent directing projects include The Tender Land, Trouble in Tahiti, and Signor Deluso at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as workshopping and directing scenes from her own opera, Catatumbo, based on her own libretto and composed by Griffin Candey at the University of Illinois.  Other previous directing projects include productions of Stop Kiss, Roméo et Juliette, Feeding the Moonfish, The Informer, Brundibár, A Canoe on the Lake, and co-director of Don Giovanni.  Tania currently serves at the Director of Opera/Music Theater at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is a doctoral candidate in Vocal Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois.

KATE RYAN, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-Soprano Kate Ryan is a versatile singer/actress who returns to Chicago after ten years in California. This December, she debuted as the mezzo-soprano soloist with the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for Handel's Messiah, and performed as a soloist with choir and orchestra at several sold-out performances of DePaul University’s Christmas at DePaul. Kate works as a singer/pianist for Howl at the Moon Chicago’s Howl2Go Program, and has performed for Chicago Dueling Piano’s, and in regular cabaret at Davenport’s Piano Bar. Recent musical theater credits include A Christmas Carol, at San Jose Repertory Theater, Hairspray at Coastal Rep and Cabrillo Stage, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Broadway by the Bay, The Light in the Piazza with Palo Alto Players, and the title role in the National Tour of Strega Nona the Musical. Ms. Ryan has served as an Adjunct Professor of Voice and Musical Theatre at Santa Clara University, and has worked on the Bay Area’s biggest stages as an actor and musical director. Kate was a print and commercial model for Marla Dell Talent in San Francisco, and has performed on tour as a backup vocalist for Ben Folds. She currently studies voice with international and Metropolitan Opera performing artist Jane Bunnell. Kate is a proud graduate of The Boston Conservatory, and a member of Actor’s Equity Association. Kate would like to extend her gratitude to Maestro Katz, the members of the chorus and orchestra, and the American Prize for this incredible opportunity.

American tenor Justin John Moniz has earned great acclaim for his “comic chops and huge voice”. Lauded by the South Florida Classical Review as a "superb high tenor" and a "vocal standout", his "refined" work has also been praised by the Miami Herald and Cape Cod Times. His unique style and versatility has afforded him an active career in concert, opera, and musical theatre. Mr. Moniz began the 2014/15 season with his debut as Gastone in La traviata, with the Opera Company of Middlebury, where he also covered the role of Alfredo. He returned for a second season with Sarasota Opera in   Pagliacci and The Hobbit, where he “turned Old Bilbo (Moniz) into an unforgettable creation bound to turn youthful audiences into future opera lovers” (The Observer). Moniz made a triumphant return to Miami this winter, where he joined the Civic Chorale of Greater Miami in Handel’s Messiah, and made his company debut in DreamCatcher Theatre’s production of Into the Woods at the Adrienne Arsht Center, in the roles of Cinderella's Prince and The Wolf. Mr. Moniz garnered critical acclaim for his “rich tenor” (The Miami Hurricane), “commanding stage presence” ( and “comic chops and huge voice” (The Miami Herald). He most recently made his role and company debut as Nanki-Poo in Gulfshore Opera's production of The Mikado. In previous seasons, Moniz has appeared with Sarasota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera New Jersey, Center Stage Opera (CA), Orchestra Miami, and the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, where he made a triumphant debut as Cassio in Otello, with less than ten minutes notice. Mr. Moniz holds degrees from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, where he was recently selected as the recipient of the 2015 Rising Star Award. He is a proud member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). For more information:


Delshawn Taylor is a junior at Indiana University South Bend where is he studying Psychology with a Spanish minor. He has musically directed and accompanied over 10 musical productions. He has performed lead operatic roles such as Chevalier de la Force in Dialogue of the Carmelites (Opera Notre Dame), Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus Tartuffe (UE Opera), The Pig in Jonathan Dove’s The Enchanted Pig, and currently learning the role of Gianni Schicchi in Gianni Schicchi (St. Mary’s Opera). He was a Top 5 Finalist in Michiana’s Rising Star and placed second in LaPorte Symphony Orchestra’s Hoosier Star Vocal Competition in the fall of 2014. As a young musician, Delshawn has been mentored by Maestro Tsung Yeh of the South Bend Symphony, Maestro Thomas Wilkins of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, and Dr. Marvin Curtis, Dean of the Ernestine Ranclin School of the Arts. He has served as Director of Music at Zoar United Church of Christ and currently serves as the Music Director at Sacred Heart Parish. As an aspiring choral composer, Delshawn is on the rise to success with growing commissions. He will be premiering his own setting of The Songs of Solomon for soprano, baritone, tenor, women’s chorus and chamber orchestra in February of 2016 and setting of seven poems by Emily Dickinson for voice and piano. To give back to his community, Delshawn recently started a thriving children’s choir at the Boys & Girls Club. He is the founder of Music for the Soul, an organization that annually unites an entire musical community across two states to raises money in a benefit concert for The Memorial Children’s Hospital and is dedicated to encouraging young singers from elementary to high school, that their voice can make a difference. Delshawn will compete in the second round of Classical Singer Magazine Musical Theatre Competition this May in Chicago. He is studies privately with Ms. Paula Harris.


Winners of the Chicago Musical Theateer Award (cover) for "SOMETHING WONDERFUL" will participate in the finales of the concerts in both locations and are available to assist if needed.

Praised for her “delightful” (The Boston Globe) and “delicately compassionate” (Times Herald Record) singing, soprano Elizabeth Kling is recognized as a dynamic and versatile performer.  In her Carnegie Hall début, she created the title role of Lucy by Tom Cipullo, and her performance was acclaimed as “excellent” (The Big City). Other roles include Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Jessie (Mahagonny Songspiel), Áljana (A Little Princess), and Hope (Anything Goes). Elizabeth has been a guest artist in song recitals at the University of Colorado, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Cal Poly Pomona.  She is a 2015 finalist in the G. Gershwin International Competition.  Elizabeth holds a DMA from The City University of New York Graduate Center and a MM from New England Conservatory.  She is Assistant Professor of Music Theatre at Auburn University.

KAREN ARCHBOLD, mezzo-soprano
Karen Archbold is poised to launch an exciting career as a promising young singer.  She studied at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Germany.  She currently appears as a part of the Duo Striata, a cello and voice ensemble focusing on new music.  Karen has been a member of the Washington Chorus, the Chicago Chorale, the Bremen Kammerchor, and the Symphonic Chorus at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen.  Karen has appeared as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw, Buttercup in HMS Pinafore as Buttercup and as Berthe in the Barber of Seville.  She has also participated in the opera choruses of Die Zauberflöte and L’Enfant Sortilege at the Kennedy Center.  Karen’s solo appearances include Alto Soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Soloist in John Rutter’s Magnificat, Mezzo soloist in Lili Boulanger’s Psalm Profundis, Alto soloist in the Verdi Requiem, and the Mahler Kindertotenlieder with the MasterWorks Festival Orchestras.

Tenor, Christian Ketter, recently made his Carnegie Hall debut with Marilyn Horne’s festival: “The Song Continues." 2013: Tenor soloist, Bruckner Te Deum, Chicago Bar Symphony and Orchestra; DuBois’ Les sept paroles du Christ; Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël. Willy Loman: Rizzer’s Death of a Salesman, Chicago Cultural Center. 2011: Mr. Ketter performed under Carlisle Floyd in a concert of Floyd's operatic works. Evita (Che) Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra; Tosca (Cavaradossi) Calumet City Chamber-Ensemble; Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights (Edgar) in its televised Chicago premiere; ShowBoat (Ravenal). 2010: At Ravinia, Mr. Ketter gave a recital benefitting the Misericordia Foundation.

2013: International-Finalist: Lotte Lenya Competition. Friedrich Schorr/The American Prize winner; National-Winner: Chicago Oratorio Award;  2nd National-Winner: Hal Leonard Art Song; The American Prize in Art Song; Shirley Rabb-Winston Grand Prize. For release summer 2014: Recording, "Beloved", a collection of classical arrangements spanning many languages, styles, and genres with violinist, Cara Schlecker and pianist, Myron Silberstein. For more information visit:

DAN RICHARDSON, bass-baritone
Bass-baritone Dan Richardson is known for his "clean, clear, declarative" tone and "lovely core sound and earnest musicianship." Recently, Mr. Richardson appeared as Elijah with Choral Union in Mendelssohn's Elijah, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra, as Papageno with Candid Concert Opera, and performed with the New Millennium Orchestra as Death in Viktor Ullmann's the Emperor of Atlantis on the Pritzker Pavilion Stage at Millennium Park.
He has also performed with the Florentine Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Louisiane, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Sarasota Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he performed the role of Don Bartolo for their “Opera in the Neighborhoods” production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. As a concert soloist Mr. Richardson has performed with the Fox Valley Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Virginia Consort, the Milwaukee Ballet, Music by the Lake, and the Grant Park Chorus.


Congratulations to these fine artists.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

SOLOIST COMPETITION: Make your debut at Orchestra Hall / Symphony Center, Chicago

four $1500 prizes.
Make your debut at Orchestra Hall / Symphony Center, Chicago, (home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) in the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
David Katz conducting the CBASO & Chorus & Friends at Orchestra Hall, June 2011.
POSTMARK DEADLINE for this competition:
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (firm)

In 2015, in addition to The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award competitions listed on the website at, four additional $1500 prizes will be awarded as performance fees to soloists selected to appear under Maestro David Katz's baton in concert with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, and the Elgin Master Chorale, performing "Something Wonderful: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein," in both Elgin (IL) and at Orchestra Hall / Symphony Center, Chicago, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in spring 2015.

For more information about this additional opportunity, which is limited to 2015 TAP applicants in the professional and college/university divisions, including the complete schedule of concerts and rehearsals, please download the opera/operetta or art song/oratorio applications from the competition website.

DEADLINE: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
There is no additional application fee for the Chicago Musical Theater Award beyond the $40 fee to apply for The American Prize in Vocal Performance.

The selection process for the Chicago Musical Theater Award is separate from The American Prize judging. Winning one competition does not preclude the possibility of winning the other.

You are encouraged to APPLY EARLY. Maestro Katz expects to select the winners of the Chicago Musical Theater Award within days of the February 17, 2015 postmark deadline, at which time music will be distributed. The decisions of the judges are final.

You can download a list of the solo selections programmed for the concert here:
and view the entire concert here:

To see an excerpt of David Katz conducting the CBASO & Chorus (and friends) in performance at Orchestra Hall / Symphony Center, Chicago, in June 2011, please view them here:


Soprano, mezzo-soprano (alto), tenor and baritone (bass) applicants for The American Prize in Vocal Performance, 2015, in the professional and college/university categories, only. In addition to the four soloists, four alternates will be chosen who will receive $100 honorariums, complimentary tickets to the concerts, and will participate in the finale of the program in both locations. Alternates are expected to be available to perform the entire concert (at an appropriate pro-rated fee) should any of the original soloists become indisposed.

Although the Chicago Musical Theater Award is an additional contest open to all professional and college/university applicants for The American Prize in Vocal Performance, 2015, it is geared primarily to those who live within comfortable travel distance of Chicago and who can make their own housing arrangements.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1974: Mrs. Friedrich Schorr Visits the Metropolitan Opera portrait gallery in NYC.

On a trip to the Metropolitan Opera in 1974, Mrs. Friedrich Schorr visited the old portrait gallery at the MET to view the painting of her husband, Fried'l, in costume as Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger. Scroll down to see the most recent display featuring Schorr at the MET, from May 2012.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Maestro David Katz, chief judge of The American Prize, the national, nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, attended the opening night of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Metropolitan Opera last weekend. During his visit, he viewed the extensive display of photographs of stars of past MET performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the MET Gallery, where he was not surprised to see portraits of the legendary baritone, Friedrich Schorr, namesake of The American Prize—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards. Schorr is shown in two of his most famous roles, as Wotan (top) and disguised as the Wanderer (bottom.) 

Also prominently displayed in the MET lobby, and in pride of place (thanks to an accident of the alphabet) is a portrait of Brenda Lewis as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. (To her left is MET music director, James Levine.) Miss Lewis was recently announced as the first Distinguished Judge Emerita of The American Prize.

To read more about Miss Lewis's extraordinary career, follow this link. 

To read a short biography of Schorr, please scroll down to earlier posts.

Beginning in 1990 and continuing for more than a dozen years, The Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice provided a proving ground for literally hundreds of professional singers from throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the British Isles, who won major roles in fully-staged opera productions and oratorio soloist opportunities under Maestro Katz's baton with opera companies and orchestras in Michigan, Maine and Connecticut.

After a hiatus of several years, the Schorr Prize returned in 2010, now under the auspices of The American Prize competitions. Re-named the Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award, the competition has been restructured to recognize and reward vocalists in art song as well as in opera through the evaluation of recorded performances.

Winners of the 2012 Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards will be announced later in May. For previous winners, visit the winners pages on The American Prize website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remembering ROBERT SOLLER, OPERA!Lenawee co-founder and Schorr Prize judge

Those of us who knew him note with sadness the passing of Robert Soller, former artistic director of the Croswell Opera House. It was Soller, together with David Katz,  chief judge of The American Prize, who served as the first adjudicator for the Friedrich Schorr Prize, the precursor to The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards.

The Friedrich Schorr Prize was the vehicle Katz created to select vocal soloists for productions of OPERA!Lenawee, the professional opera company he and Soller founded in 1990 to bring professional opera to the magnificently restored civil-war-era Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Michigan. OPERA!Lenawee was a unique collaboration between Lenawee County Michigan's two premiere performing arts organizations, the Croswell and the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, where Katz was music director.

Between 1990 and 1995, with Soller as stage director and Katz as conductor, the team produced La Boheme, Die Fledermaus, Carmen, La Traviata and Tosca, with gifted professional casts, selected from thoughout the country through the Schorr Prize contest, bringing live opera to the opera house (and to Lenawee County) for the very first time. Later, with Katz conducting and renowned English soprano Lorna Haywood as stage director, OPERA!Lenawee went on to produce Albert Herring, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, I Pagliacci, a semi-staged production of Cosi fan tutte, before a final La Boheme, (this time directed by William Shomos), ten years later, bringing the company full circle.

Here is Katz's remembrance of his friend and colleague:

January 7, 2012

With profound sadness I learn of the passing of my colleague, Bob Soller. We were friends for most of a dozen years, during the period I served the Adrian Symphony Orchestra as music director and principal conductor.

I knew Bob better than most, as together we guided the community to the extraordinary artistic success that was OPERA!Lenawee, the unique collaboration between the ASO & the Croswell Opera House that brought fully-staged, full-length operas to Lenawee County for the first time, and for many successful years. Opera in the opera house was a dream of Bob’s (and mine)—a confluence of place, people and skills that will probably never be repeated.

Robert Soller was—and rightly should be remembered—as a Lenawee legend (whether he liked it or not—and he definitely would not). He was complicated, brilliant, cantankerous, passionate, moody, witty, conflicted, and extraordinarily talented. In other words, he was everything a true artist usually is.

A month ago, knowing of his illness, I wrote to him, to thank him for the quality of his vision—displayed on countless opening nights; for his courage—especially when Adrian turned towards opera; for hundreds of conversations spanning much of a decade—each filled with intensity, potential, and laughter; and for decades of hard work done well.

There were nights I spent with Bob Soller that are among the proudest of my life—and if there were bumps, they can’t upend what was accomplished where no one thought it possible.

Across years and miles, dreams fulfilled and not, I think of Bob Soller today with admiration and affection in equal portion, and for all time.

David Katz, former music director and principal conductor
Adrian Symphony Orchestra & OPERA!Lenawee
chief judge, The American Prize

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Productions by OPERA!Lenawee in Michigan, Opera Maine and the Monteux Opera Festival in Maine, and Hat City Music Theater & Opera in Connecticut featured winners of The Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice in lead roles in their productions.

In addition, performances by the Adrian Symphony (MI), the Monteux Festival Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Maine, the Candlewood Symphony and the Chicago Bar Association Symphony featured Schorr winners as oratorio or art-song soloists.

Here is a list of some productions and performances that included Schorr winners:

OPERA!Lenawee—the professional opera arm of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, featured Schorr winners as lead singers in their productions, which were performed fully staged, with orchestra, at the historic Croswell Opera House, in Adrian, Michigan. All performances were conducted by OPERA!Lenawee co-founder and artistic director, David Katz. Performances through 1995 were directed by Robert Soller of the Croswell Opera House. Lorna Haywood, of the University of Michigan, directed 1996-1998.

1990—Puccini La Boheme
1992—Strauss Die Fledermaus
1993—Bizet Carmen
1994—Verdi La Traviata
1995—Puccini Tosca
1996—Britten Albert Herring
1997—Puccini Madame Butterfly
1998—Leoncavallo I Pagliacci / Puccini Gianni Schicchi
1999—Mozart Cosi Fan Tutte (semi-staged at Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College)
2000—Puccini La Boheme