Classical Music

THE SCOOP | The 2023 George London Award Winners Have Been Announced

George and Nora London President John Hauser, third from right, with 2023 George London Award winners (left to right) Karoline Podolak, Erika Baikoff, Amber R. Monroe, Ricardo Garcia, and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Photo: Beth Bergman)

The 51st George and Nora London Foundation Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers has completed, with five top prize winners announced. They include Toronto native Karoline Podolak, along with sopranos Erika Baikoff and Amber R. Monroe, and countertenors Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and tenor Ricardo Garcia. Each of the five top prize winners receives $12,000 USD.

Karoline Podolak was also the winner of the COC Ensemble Studio Competition in 2022.

George London and his legacy

Born in Montreal in 1920, George London would move to Los Angeles with his family as a teenager. He became a baritone with an international career in the world of opera, landing eventually at the Vienna State Opera in 1949, and then at the Metropolitan Opera in London, where he performed for many years.

The George and Nora London Foundation for Singers was created to help future generations, and was founded in 1971. Nora London, George’s widow, has President of the George London Foundation for Singers, which was renamed the George and Nora London Foundation for Singers after her death in 2022.

The competition

A total of twelve finalists were selected to perform at the competition, which took place in-person at the Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, and was also livestreamed.

This year’s judges were soprano Harolyn Blackwell, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano Susan Quittmeyer, bass James Morris, and former Metropolitan Opera administrator Lenore Rosenberg.

The finalists performed a piece of their choice.

  • Erika Baikoff, soprano (29, Brooklyn, NY), sang “A vos jeux, mes amis” from Thomas’s Hamlet;
  • Amber R. Monroe, soprano (32, Youngstown, OH), sang “Addio mio dolce amor” from Puccini’s Edgar;
  • Karoline Podolak, soprano (30, Toronto, Canada), sang “Je suis Titania” from Thomas’s Mignon;
  • Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor (29, Brooklyn, NY), sang “Inumano fratel…Stille amare” from Handel’s Tolomeo;
  • Ricardo Garcia, tenor (30, Hayward, CA), sang “Kuda, Kuda” (“Lensky’s Aria”) from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

The George London Encouragement Awards of $2,000 USD each were awarded to the seven remaining finalists, including Matthew Cairns, tenor, another Torontonian.

Past winners include a who’s who of the opera world Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Catherine Malfitano, James Morris, Matthew Polenzani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Neil Shicoff, Willard White, and Dawn Upshaw.

The George and Nora London Foundation season of concerts continues at The Morgan in New York City, culminating in a recital by 2018 George London Award winner Benjamin Taylor, baritone, with pianist Katelan Terrell on April 16, 2023.


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