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Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners, Michelle Bradley and Michael Gaertner, To Perform Recitals in Santa Barbara, Dallas, and New York City in May

National Opera Center recital on May 20 will be streamed live to audiences worldwide

The 2014 winners of the Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition, soprano Michelle Bradley and pianist Michael Gaertner will be presented in recital appearances in May in Santa Barbara, Dallas, and New York City. With a program that includes arias, songs and spirituals by Beethoven, Strauss, Duparc, Fauré, Poulenc, Bachelet, and H.T. Burleigh, the artists will perform on Thursday, May 14 at Hahn Hall on the campus of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara; on Sunday, May 17 at the Dallas Museum of Art, in the Academy’s first collaboration with the Dallas Opera; and on Wednesday, May 20 as part of Opera America’s Emerging Artists in Recital series at the National Opera Center in New York City. The May 20 recital will be live-streamed on the internet at

One of the most popular events of the summer season at the Music Academy, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition is a showcase for Academy singers and vocal pianists. Top awards, presented in memory of longtime Music Academy vocal accompaniment faculty member Gwendolyn Koldofsky, are given to the Academy singer and vocal pianist who demonstrate both excellence in the performance of song repertoire and an exceptional gift for audience communication. Winners receive full underwriting from the Music Academy for recital appearances and $2,500 Regina Roney Prizes. In addition to the cash prize and tour, artist winners receive coaching from Marilyn Horne and Academy Voice Program faculty artists. Past winners have included Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard, San Francisco Opera star Nadine Sierra, and Steinway Artist Spencer Myer. This year’s competition will take place from 10 am to 5 pm on July 18 at the Academy’s Hahn Hall. The competition regularly attracts industry insiders eager for a glimpse of emerging talent.

“The song recital remains a uniquely vibrant art form. It’s vital that we continue to nurture and promote it among performers and audiences alike,” stated Marilyn Horne, who has directed the Music Academy’s celebrated Voice Program since 1997. “Once again we have two wonderful young recitalists who I am confident are destined for long careers on stage.”

Michelle Bradley
Born in Versailles, Kentucky, Michelle Bradley is a graduate of Kentucky State and Bowling Green State universities. She currently resides in Houston, Texas, where she studies privately with Lois Alba. The recipient of a Houston Ebony Opera Guild Encouragement Award, Bradley won the Lois Alba Aria Competition in 2011, and recently earned third prize in the 2014 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition. She placed third and received the Audience Choice Award at the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert Vocal Competition in December 2013. The 32-year-old soprano made her New York debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Opera Ebony last October. She is a 2014 alumna of the Music Academy of the West.

Michael Gaertner
A rising and sought-after collaborator and coach, Michael Gaertner is currently the resident pianist at Shreveport Opera, where his duties include serving as chorus master for the company’s productions, as well as concert performances and outreach programs throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in collaborative piano. Gaertner earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance, with a collaborative emphasis, at Ithaca College, where he received the Mary Hayes North Piano Competition Award and was a finalist in the college’s annual concerto competition. His teachers have included Martin Katz, Warren Jones, Kenneth Merrill, Jennifer Hayghe, and Charis Dimaras, and he has performed in masterclasses for Eric Owens, Deborah Voigt, and Marilyn Horne. Gaertner, 24, is a 2014 alumnus of the Music Academy of the West.

Summer 2015 at the Music Academy of the West
The Music Academy of the West’s 2015 Summer School and Festival will take place from June 15 to August 8. Highlights of 2015 Summer School and Festival include the debut performance at the historic Santa Barbara Bowl of the New York Philharmonic under its music director Alan Gilbert, and a new production of Rossini’s comic opera Cinderella, overseen by Marilyn Horne, a Music Academy alumna (’53) and Director of the Voice Program. Additional highlights include performances by pianists Jeremy Denk and Leon Fleisher, the Takács and JACK quartets, cellist Alban Gerhardt, and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, as well as orchestral concerts led by Christoph von Dohnányi, Courtney Lewis, Nicholas McGegan, Larry Rachleff, and Osmo Vänskä. Throughout its 2015 Summer Festival, the Academy will showcase the music of living composers, including Thomas Adès, Kalevi Aho, Mason Bates, Pierre Boulez, Pierre Jalbert, Carter Pann, Steve Reich, and Caroline Shaw. Featuring the Academy’s talented fellows, faculty and distinguished guest performers, some 200 events – including more than 80 that are free – will be presented at the Academy’s beautiful oceanside campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. This annual festival on the coast of southern California is often described as “classical music on America’s Riviera.”

About the Music Academy of the West
The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classical musicians. At its oceanside campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly based on merit, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished faculty roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, nearly half of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. For more information, visit

The Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners
National Recital Tour  

Michelle Bradley soprano
Michael Gaertner piano


BEETHOVEN: Ah! Perfido
R. STRAUSS: “Ständchen,” “Befreit,” “Freundliche Vision,” “Ich trage meine Minne,”“Cäcilie”
DUPARC: “La vie antérieure”
FAURÉ: “Au cimetière” and “Notre amour”
POULENC: “Les chemins de l’amour”
BACHELET: “Chère nuit”
H.T. BURLEIGH: “Five Songs of Laurence Hope,” “Give Me Jesus,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (arr. Margaret Bonds/Jessye Norman)

Thursday, May 14 (7:30 PM)
Santa Barbara, CA
The Music Academy of the West
Hahn Hall
1070 Fairway Road
For tickets, visit

Sunday, May 17 (2 PM)
Dallas, TX
Dallas Opera’s Robert E. and Jean Ann Titus Art Song Recital Series
The Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood Street
For tickets, visit or call 214.443.1000

Wednesday, May 20 (7 PM)
New York, NY
Opera America’s Emerging Artist Recital Series
National Opera Center
330 Seventh Avenue
For tickets & live-streaming details, visit


Music Academy of the West 2015 Summer Festival Highlights
Santa Barbara, CA

June 16:               Takács Quartet in concert
June 20:               Larry Rachleff w/ Academy Festival Orchestra
June 25:               Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey in concert
June 27:               Larry Rachleff w/ Academy Festival Orchestra
July 3:                  Jeremy Denk w/ with members of the Academy Festival Orchestra
July 6, 8:              OperaFest
July 9:                   Cellist Alban Gerhardt in concert
July 11:                Marilyn Horne Masterclass
July 11:                Osmo Vänskä w/Academy Festival Orchestra
July 15:                Pianists Leon Fleisher and Katherine Jacobson Fleisher in concer
July 18:                Courtney Lewis w/ Academy Festival Orchestra – “Concerto Celebration”
July 18:                Marilyn Horne Song Competition
July 20:                JACK Quartet in concert
July 25:                Nicholas McGegan w/members of the Academy Festival Orchestra
July 30, Aug. 1: Rossini’s Cinderella (Jayce Ogren, conductor; David Paul, stage director)
Aug 1:                   PercussionFest
Aug 3:                   Alan Gilbert w/New York Philharmonic at Santa Barbara Bowl
Aug 7:                   Cabaret, the Academy’s Signature Gala
Aug 8:                   Christoph von Dohnányi w/Academy Festival Orchestra

A PDF of the Music Academy’s 2015 Summer Festival brochure may be downloaded here.



For further information, contact:


Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: [email protected]; 212-625-2038

Tim Dougherty, Music Academy of the West Communications Manager: [email protected]; 805-695-7908


© 21C Media Group, April 2015

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