NEWS: Low Voices Have It in 47th Annual George London Opera Competition

The George London Foundation Awards Competition this evening had something odd going on: 1 of the 6 winners floated above the rest of the competition. This was not a reflection of relative skill, but a simple matter of acoustics: soprano Lauren Margison’s fellow winners were 3 mezzo-sopranos, 1 baritone, and 1 bass-baritone.

The George London Foundation and George London Awards are both named for the late American singer of the same name, who himself was a bass-baritone. In the latter stages of his singing career, George London (1920-1985) became a noted pedagogue and nurtured the careers of countless singers, a focus continued by the foundation and its competition. The 2018 competition, whose final round took place at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, was the foundation’s 47th annual outing.

The six top-place winners each received a $10,000 cash award:

  • Lawson Anderson (bass-baritone) of Atlanta, Georgia;
  • Raehann Bryce-Davis (mezzo-soprano) of Keene, TX;
  • Rihab Chaieb (mezzo-soprano) of Montreal, Quebec;
  • Emily D’Angelo (mezzo-soprano) of Toronto, Ontario;
  • Lauren Margison (soprano) of Toronto, Ontario; and
  • Benjamin Taylor (baritone) of Waldorf, Maryland.

Additional awards were given to other contestants who reached the competition’s final stages:

  • Three $5,000 awards to Samantha Gossard (mezzo-soprano) of Sidney, Ohio; Daniel Moody (countertenor) of Cincinnati, Ohio; and Amy Owens (soprano) of Brookfield, Wisconsin.
  • Eight $1,000 awards to Martin Bakari (tenor) of Yellow Springs, Ohio; Deanna Breiwick (soprano) of Seattle, Washington; Sarah Coit (mezzo-soprano) of Spring Hill, Florida; Anna Dugan (soprano) of Cranford, New Jersey; Madison Leonard (soprano) of Cour d’Alene, Idaho; Jana McIntyre (soprano) of Santa Barbara, California; Aaron Short (tenor) of Olathe, Kansas; and Corrie Stallings (mezzo-soprano) of Benicia, California.

The finals round of the George London Foundation Awards Competition is one of the most closely watched opera singing competitions for early-career singers. The dominating presence of lower voices is all the more surprising because of their relatively lesser use in the vocal repertoire, which mostly highlights soprano voices (for women) and tenors (for men).