Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang won first prize in the 5th annual Handel Aria Competition. Second prize and audience favorite went to tenor Gene Stenger, and third prize to mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski. The event was held on June 9, 2017 in Mills Hall of the Mead Witter School of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The competition judges for this year were Paul Rowe, Craig Trompeter and Alessandra Visconti. Finalists were accompanied by the Madison Bach Musicians under the direction of Trevor Stephenson. [Photo by David Peterson.]
The seven finalists in the 2017 Handel Aria Competition, chosen from a field of over 100 singers:
• Johanna Bronk, mezzo-soprano from Boston, MA
• Brian Giebler, tenor from New York, NY
• Nicole Heinen, soprano from New Orleans, LA
• Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano from Brooklyn Center, MN
• Andrew Rader, countertenor from Bloomington, IN
• Gene Stenger, tenor from New Haven CT
• Nian Wang, mezzo-soprano from Nanjing, China
Johanna Bronk, mezzo-soprano
Johanna Bronk is an ardent performer of Baroque repertoire. She was a finalist in the 2016 Tafelmusik Baroque International Vocal Competition. Ms. Bronk was a Carmel Bach Festival Virginia Adams Fellow in 2014 and a Solo Recitalist at the Carmel Bach Festival in 2015. Ms. Bronk sang the title role in Dido and Aeneas at the American Bach Soloists Festival, and the roles of Ariodante (Ariodante), Ottone and Narciso (Agrippina), Nerone (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Telemaco (Il Ritorno dUlisse) and Architecture (Les Arts Florissants). She has performed with San Francisco Opera, West Edge Opera, Styriarte Festival Graz Austria, TENET NYC, Rogue Valley Symphony, Emmanuel Music Boston, and Boston Early Music Festival. Ms. Bronk holds a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory.
Brian Giebler, tenor
Garnering praise for his “most impressive… bright, clear tone and lively personality” (New York Times), tenor Brian Giebler has been heard singing diverse repertoire around the world. A “faultless high tenor” (Seattle Times) with “great elegance of tone and phrasing” (Baltimore Sun), Mr. Giebler has been a soloist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, American Classical Orchestra, New York City Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, Saginaw Bay Orchestra, and just recently made his solo debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. He is a member of the GRAMMY® nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street in Manhattan, where he sang the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Last year, Mr. Giebler was a finalist in the Tafelmusik International Vocal Competition, a semi-finalist in the American Traditions Competition, and received Honorable Mention at the Biennial Bach Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Bach Society and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem. This upcoming summer, Mr. Giebler will be the Tenor Vocal Fellow at the Oregon Bach Festival. www.BrianGiebler.com
Nicole Heinen, soprano
Noted for her “sparkling voice” and “deft hand at verbal and physical comedy”, soprano Nicole Heinen is an emerging artist from New Orleans. Recent credits include #1 (Transformations), La Fée (Cendrillon), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring) and Atalanta (Serse). Miss Heinen is currently touring with Opera for the Young as Adina in their production of Elixir of Love. A native of Wisconsin, Miss Heinen, holds a Bachelors in Music in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music and a Masters in Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano
Clara Osowski is an active soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. Hailed for her artistry and “rich and radiant” voice (Urban Dial Milwaukee), she sings “begeisterte mit sympathischer Schlagfertigkeit” (Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung). Her recent awards include second place in 2017 Das Lied Competition in Heidelberg, the runner-up in the 2016 American Prize for Art Song, runner-up in the 2016 Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition, and a 2016 Oregon Bach Festival Vocal Fellow. Clara is featured on numerous recordings with Consortium Carissimi (Naxos), and James Kallembach’s St. John Passion, released with high acclaim on Roven Records. In addition to her solo work, she participates in a number of ensembles, including Consortium Carissimi, Lumina Women’s Ensemble, the Rose Ensemble and Seraphic Fire. For more information and schedule, please visit www.claraosowski.com.
Andrew Rader, countertenor
Countertenor Andrew Rader has performed throughout the Americas and Europe. Specifically, he has been involved in numerous solo and chamber performances with The Rose Ensemble, 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. Competition successes included Second Prize in the 2015 Nicholas Loren Vocal Competition, Second Prize in the 2015 Handel Aria Competition, Third Prize in the 2011 Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award, and Third Prize 2014 Orpheus National Vocal Competition.
Gene Stenger, tenor
Gene Stenger recently made his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in Bernstein’s Celebrations from Mass with the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra under the baton of John Mauceri. Additional solo oratorio engagements include the role of the Evangelist, and tenor arias in the complete work of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Colorado Bach Ensemble, tenor arias in Bach’s St. John Passion with Voices of Ascension in New York, and the title role of Judas Maccabeus in Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, featured on PBS’s program, “Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly.” Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Gene holds an M.M in Voice, specializing in Early Music, Oratorio, and Chamber Ensemble from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, and the School of Music. He also holds a M.M. degree in Voice (Opera) from Colorado State University, and a B.M. in Voice from Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music.
Nian Wang, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and while with the company she sang her first performances of Ascanius in The Trojans, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Tebaldo in Don Carlo. She participated in the 2014 Merola Opera Program where she was featured in the Schwabacher Summer Concert. At the Curtis Institute of Music, her credits include the title roles of La Cenerentola and Rinaldo, Romeo in I Capuleti e i MontecchiSiébel in Faust, Mother Jeanne in Dialogues des Carmélites, and the First Witch in Dido and Aeneas. Other credits include Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Beijing National Center for the Performing Arts; Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with the Martina Arroyo Foundation; Chinese Tea Cup, Female Cat, Shepherd, and Squirrel in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges at Bard College. Wang also performed in the Dawn Upshaw and Donnacha Dennehy Young Artist Concert at Carnegie Hall.