Triple Win in Lehmann Song Competition: Commission, Publication, Multiple Performances



First Prize Winner Scott Gendel

Winning composers of the ASCAP and Lotte Lehmann Foundation’s first Song Cycle Competition have good reason to exercise their vocal cords. First prize winner Scott Gendel will receive a $3,500 commission to write a song cycle for voice and piano. And there’s more…the competition is unique in that it also includes publication and performance as a component. Gendel’s piece will be published by E.C. Schirmer. Plus, the work will receive performances in three major American cities.

Second and third prize winners, Mark Buntag and Michael Djupstrom, will receive a $1,000 and $500 commission, respectively, to compose an art song for voice and piano. There is an additional prize, the Damien Top Prize, for which winner Eli Marshall will receive a $500 commission to set a poem by Andrée Brunin. The piece will be premiered at the 2006 Albert Roussel International Festival in France.

The competition was established to encourage and recognize gifted young vocal composers under the age of 30 and was named after legendary soprano, Lotte Lehmann. Judging this year’s competition were composers Richard Rodney Bennett and Russell Platt, soprano Judith Kellock, and conductor Michael Morgan.

Full List of Winners:

  • First Prize: Scott Gendel, 28, Madison, WI
  • Second Prize: Mark Buntag, 29, Bloomington, IN
  • Third Prize: Michael Djupstrom, 25, White Bear Lake, MN
  • Damien Top Prize: Eli Marshall, 28, Montville, ME
  • Honorable Mentions: Ola Gjeilo, 28, New York, NY; Jocelyn Hagen, 25, Minneapolis, MN

    A Closer Look at Scott Gendel

    Scott Gendel received a DMA in composition last May from UW-Madision with a minor in opera accompanying and vocal coaching. He is currently applying for academic teaching positions but wants to continue his work as a performer and composer. His music has been published once before by Tuba-Euphonium Press.

    At this stage in his career, Gendel is particularly excited by the opportunities the ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Foundation award provides. “The performance opportunities are great and the prizes are so forward thinking,” he says. “Most competitions, you just get a check, but with this one, you get a commission, publication, and three performances. It really seems well-designed.”

    Gendel wrote his winning composition, Forgotten Light, for the soprano Julia Faulkner, a Madison-area singer who he admired. When she mentioned she was planning a recital of songs based on Emily Dickinson poetry, Scott jumped at the chance to write her a cycle.

    “I chose a set of seven poems which loosely progresses from the giddy start of a love affair through its demise and then into grief, ending with a lesser-known Dickinson work that simply blows my mind, ‘After Great Pain,'” he explains. He describes the music as “unabashedly romantic, yet also incorporating elements of 12-tone writing and extreme chromaticism.”

    For his commissioned song cycle, he is considering poetry by Wendell Berry or Kenneth Rexroth.

    “Scott Gendel’s art songs combine superb craftsmanship, a sophisticated and well-honed sense of prosody, texts of excellent literary quality, and a sure heart with years of experience as a vocal coach and accompanist,” notes Daron Hagen, president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation. “He knows the repertoire and has performed it; he knows singers and has performed with them. The Lehmann Foundation judges were unanimous in their choice of Scott for the first prize commission based entirely on the recording and score that he submitted to the competition.”

    The ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Foundation Song Cycle Competition, a major national competition, takes place only in even numbered years. Another competition sponsored by the Lotte Lehmann Foundation is the international Internet-based Art Song Performance Competition for singers and pianists called CyberSing. The competition reaches over sixty countries each cycle. Submissions for CyberSing will open on January 1, 2007.