The 2015 Competition was held in Mills Hall in the Humanities Building on the UW-Madison Campus, in collaboration with the Madison Early Music Festival. Singers were accompanied by performers from Madison Bach Musicians with guest baroque oboist Priscilla Herreid. Judges for the 2015 Competition were Samuel Handly and Amanda Majeski and Paul Rowe .
Sarah Brailey was named first prize winner in the 2015 Handel Aria Competition in the final round of the competition held on Thursday evening, July 17 as part of the Madison Early Music Festival.
Second prize was awarded to countertenor Andrew Rader from Bloomington, Indiana. Margaret Fox, a mezzo-soprano based in Chicago, won both the third prize and was voted “audience favorite” through the hundreds of ballots submitted by attendees at the concert.
The other finalists, who were selected through a rigorous juried process during the first round, were sopranos Corinne Byrne, New York, NY, Kristin Knutson, Brookfield, WI, mezzo-soprano Audrey Dawson, Springfield, OH, and baritone Jacob Scharfman, Boston, MA.
Hailed by The New York Times for her “radiant, liquid tone,” “exquisitely phrased,” and “sweetly dazzling” singing, soprano Sarah Brailey is in growing demand as a soloist and chamber music artist across all genres of music. She has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall with Steve Reich to the Hollywood Bowl with Kanye West and GRAMMY® Award-winning alternative-classical vocal band Roomful of Teeth. Highlights of Sarah’s current and recent seasons include Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Colorado Symphony; George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song with Lorelei Ensemble and the Boston Symphony; Zweite Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Clarion Music Society; John Zorn’s Madrigals at the Louvre Museum; Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Charlotte Symphony; Costanza in Haydn’s L’isola disabitata with the American Classical Orchestra; the world premiere of Daniel Felsenfeld’s Astrophysical Mass; Schoenberg’s Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten with the Brooklyn Art Song Society; Scott Gendel’s new oratorio Barbara Allen (written for Sarah); and Britten’s Les Illuminations with NOVUS NY, and numerous appearances with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, and the Polydora Ensemble, a vocal quartet that specializes in 19th century German art song repertoire.
Praised for her “beautiful vocal timbre,” “infectious enthusiasm,” and versatility, Corrine Byrne has quickly become a celebrated soprano. Recent roles include Cathy (The Last Five Years), ensemble/cover for the title role Handel’s Almira with Boston Early Music Festival, Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), and Anima (Ordo Virtutum). She has been a soloist with One World Symphony, the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, the REBEL Baroque Ensemble, and the Amherst Symphony. This past year she sang with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle, and with the Tallis Scholars as part of Carnegie Hall’s Before Bach concert series. She holds a B.M from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst , an M.M from Manhattan School of Music, and she is currently on scholarship as a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University.
Audrey L. Dawson, mezzo-soprano, earned a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance with distinction from DePaul University, where she studied with Jane Bunnell and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, summa cum laude, from Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Timothy Mussard. Past performances include the roles of Lucy (Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera), Mrs. Herring (Britten’s Albert Herring), Fox Goldenstripe (Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen), Prince Orlofsky (Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus), Dame Doleful (Penhorwood’s Too Many Sopranos), and Cherubino (Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, condensed). Ms. Dawson was a soloist for Handel’s Messiah; Zelenka’s Messa Dei Filii; J.S. Bach’s Markus-Passion, Cantata 187 and Cantata 140; and Vivaldi’s Gloria and in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
Margaret Fox, mezzo-soprano, brings a convincing performance to the concert and operatic stage. Main roles include, Junon/Actéon (Haymarket Opera), Dido/Dido and Aeneas, Ariodante/Ariodante (American Bach Soloists Academy), Hansel/Hansel and Gretel (Opera for the Young), Cherubino/Le Nozze di Figaro (Aspen Opera Theater Center), Meg March/Little Women (Intermezzo Young Artist Program), Tour Guide/Elmer Gantry, 3rd Spirit/The Magic Flute (Florentine Opera). Last summer, Ms.Fox was a participant in The Compleat Singer at the Early Music Vancouver Summer Festival (Ellen Hargis-director). Awards include, Sigma Alpha Iota Career Performance Grant, Elgin Opera Competion (3rd place), Oratorio Society of New York Competition (semi-finalist) and was recently a 2014 Artist in Residence at Kaneland, IL School District. She received her Masters of Music degree in vocal performance at UW-Madison. Margaret currently sings with the St. Charles Singers, and Grant Park Chorus Ensemble.
Soprano, Kristin Knutson is a versatile singer with a passion for Baroque music. Recent credits: Mermaid in Fresco Opera Theatre’s Rinaldo and the Galactic Crusades, Gretel in Main Street Opera’s Hansel and Gretel, and soprano soloist in the Fireside Theatre’s A Fireside Christmas. Additional credits include Candide with the New York Philharmonic, Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Musetta (La Bohème), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Vivaldi soloist (Orchestra of the Redeemer NYC), Bizet soloist (Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall), J.S. Bach soloist with harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper. She currently resides in her home state of Wisconsin and has the privilege of studying with Connie Haas and Ellen Hargis. B.M.: The Juilliard School, Graduate Studies: Manhattan School of Music. Upcoming: Early Music Vancouver’s Baroque Vocal Programme. http://www.KristinKnutson.com
Countertenor Andrew Rader has performed throughout the US, South America, and Europe. Specifically, he has been involved in numerous solo performances with Music City Baroque, Bourbon Baroque, and Magnificat Baroque, performing at the Boston, Chicago, Madison, Bloomington and Berkeley Early Music Festivals during recent seasons. Solo engagements include the countertenor cover in Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, St. John Passion, Come, Ye Sons of Art, Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria and, Schütz’ Weihnachshistorie, and numerous Bach cantatas. In 2011, he took Third Place in the Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award Countertenor Competition, and in 2014 the Wagner Award winner in the Orpheus National Vocal Competition. He was a 2015 finalist in the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition.
The Boston Musical Intelligencer recently praised Jacob Scharfman’s baritone as “certain to gain popularity […] well-rounded and rich, maintaining clarity and precision throughout his entire range.” This season’s operatic engagements include Mr. Webb in Rorem’s Our Town with Boston Opera Collaborative, Rugby in Vaughan William’s Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera, Prince Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades with Harvard’s Lowell House, and The Little Prince with Opera Fayetteville. A favorite soloist of the Henry Purcell Society, he will debut at Boston’s Early Music Festival this June. Jacob graduated magna from Brown University in 2013, where he sang Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, delivered a recital of Elizabethan poetry in song, and collaborated with the Boston Camerata.