On Saturday, January 20, 2018, the Houston Saengerbund presented its Third Annual Saengerbund Awards at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Midtown. The eight finalists, selected from over 70 preliminary entries, competed before a distinguished panel of judges including professionals from the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera in the Heights, and university professors from Texas State University and Baylor University.
The winner of the Carl Zeus Founders Award of $2000 went to Ricardo Rivera (baritone), who performed Mein Sehnen, Mein Wähnen by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Erlkönig by Franz Schubert. The second prize of $1500 went to Geoffrey Hahn (baritone) of Santa Barbara, CA. Further prizes totaling $4000 were presented to Emily Helenbrook, Christian Mark Gibbs, Catherine Goode, Sunyeop Hwang, Hanna Lee, and Jena Carpenter.
The pianist for the competition was Rick Rowley of The University of Texas at Austin.
In addition to the singers in the competition, audience members were treated to entertainment provided by former winners of the Saengerbund Awards. Thomas Glass, now in the Houston Opera Studio, and Raphaella Medina, who will make her company debut with Opera Saratoga in summer 2018, performed selections from Carmen, Hänsel und Gretel, Tannhäuser, and Falstaff. They were accompanied by Blair Salter, a coach accompanist and music director of the Houston Opera Studio. One of the most popular moments of the evening was the Audience Favorite Award, presented to Ricardo Rivera (baritone).
Next year’s competition will be held on January 19, 2019, at First Evangelical Lutheran Church.