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Smoak honored with inaugural Marc Blitzstein Award at 2016 Lotte Lenya

18 April 2016

From an extremely competitive field of 224 international performers, following preliminary and semi-final rounds of competition, 14 finalists were selected to compete for the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition Finals held by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music on April 16 at the Eastman School of Music. Of the winners, Bradley Smoak was honored with the first ever Marc Blitzstein Award, given to highlight the most outstanding performance of an individual piece from the "Golden Era" of American musical theater for his performance of "Pass that Football" from Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town. Click below for more information and videos of Mr. Smoak's award-winning performance.

The following is from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music website.

The panel of judges included international opera star Teresa Stratas, Rodgers & Hammerstein President Theodore S. Chapin, and Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 224 contestants later narrowed to 31 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Tony Award-winners Jeanine Tesori and Victoria Clark. Clark, who last judged the competition in 2012, noted "I can feel the leap in overall talent from the last time I judged."

Now in its 19th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singer/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in prize money and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.

Marc Blitzstein – born in Philadelphia in 1905 – showed musical promise as a pianist at a young age. He began composing lieder and short piano pieces in his teens, before going on to study composition at the Curtis Institute from 1924-1926, and then briefly in Europe with Nadia Boulanger and Arnold Schoenberg. He achieved nearly overnight notoriety with his 1937 agitprop musical theater work, The Cradle Will Rock. His other well-known works include his opera Regina, The Airborne Symphony, and his English adaptation of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. At the time of his unexpected and tragic death in 1964, much of his work was left unfinished and unpublished, leaving behind a legacy that has been largely overlooked in the ensuing decades.

Below are the competition results.

Bradley Smoak
Pass that Football, Evening Round

"Pass that Football" from Wonderful Town (Bernstein)
Shane Schag, piano

Full performance, Daytime Round

"Come, master" from The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky)
"It's hard to speak my heart" from Parade (Brown)
"Let things be like they always was" from Street Scene (Weill)
"Pass that Football" from Wonderful Town (Bernstein)
Shane Schag, piano

 


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