The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here are the winners of the fifth annual Handel Aria Competition | June 17, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

This posting should have appeared earlier, but The Ear regrets that other news, reviews and previews preempted it and apologizes for the tardiness.

In any case, in case you haven’t already heard, the fifth annual Handel Aria Competition took place a week ago Friday night, and was well attended.

The seven finalists were chosen from an international field of 107 applicants. For the third year in a row, they were accompanied by harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson, who conducted the Madison Bach Musicians.

In five years, the competition has certainly blossomed into a respected global event, and it shows all the signs of continuing to grow. The Ear is unaware of other competitions devoted to the prolific vocal music of George Frideric Handel, who is so often overshadowed by his Baroque contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach.

First prize went to mezzo-soprano Nian Wang (below center in the photo by David Peterson) from Nanjing, China; second prize and audience favorite to tenor Gene Stenger (below left) from New Haven, Connecticut; and third prize to mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski (below right) from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

The competition judges for this year were Paul Rowe, Craig Trompeter and Alessandra Visconti.

You can’t yet find an audio video clip of Wang’s performances on YouTube. But contestants from previous years are there, and no doubt soon there will be a YouTube video of Wang singing.

Here are more photos of Nian Wang performing and receiving the first prize flanked by other contestants and the founders of the competition, Orange and Dean Schroeder:

For more information about the winners, identities and biographies of the seven finalists (below), and the competition itself – including previous years and winners — go to:


1 Comment »

  1. There’s too much happening in classical music to have the same columns hanging around for days.

    The MSO has hired a new, young rising star as their organist: Greg Zelek. Looks like a good hire: he’s a terrific performer, has been in Madison before, and has a wide repertoire. Zelek is one of the scheduled organist on their organ performance schedule for 2018 and performed in Madison a few years ago. He’s fresh from Julliard.

    We are at a kind of critical time for classical music with all sorts of people retiring or reaching that certain age in the area. In this case, it was Sam Hutchinson, the organist who has done a fine job. Professor Smith is also retiring at the end of this year at UW in conducting; and Andrew Sewell looks set to be leaving, or splitting his time here and in California (I don’t think that will work out). The MSO maestro is also getting way up there in years, and Edo de Waart has retired from the MSO (Milwaukee). It’s time to build on the good work of all these people and hire young, energetic musicians who are also great leaders and educators.

    Zelek looks like a good step in that direction.

    Comment by FFlambeau — June 18, 2017 @ 12:27 am

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