On Saturday, January 25, 2020, the Houston Saengerbund presented its Fifth Annual Saengerbund Awards German Vocal Competition at Cullen Hall on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. The six finalists competed before a distinguished panel of judges including Melanie Sonnenberg, Professor of Music at the University of Houston and the Director of The Institute of Vocal Studies at Texas Music Festival; Brian Speck, Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and a frequent adjudicator in vocal competitions; and Ellen Rissinger, an American Vocal Coach/Accompanist most recently on the music staff of the Sächsische Staatsoper (Semperoper) in Dresden, Germany.
The winner of the Carl C. Zeus Founders Award of $5000 went to Isabel Signoret (mezzo soprano), who performed Warum willst du and're fragen by C.Schumann, Die Mainacht by Brahms and Wie du warst (Der Rosenkavalier) by R. Strauss. The Richard E. McGinty Director Emeritus Award of $2000 went to Blake Denson (baritone) of Paducah, KY. The James R. Braun Memorial Award of $1000 went to Brandon Scott Russell (tenor). The ever popular Audience Favorite Award of $500 went to Benjamin Dickerson (baritone). The six finalists, Blake Denson, Benjamin Dickerson, Page Michels, Brandon Scott Russell, Hannah Shea and Isabel Signoret, each received the Finalist Award of $750.
The pianist for the competition was Ana Maria Otamendi, the Janice Harvey Pellar Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano at Louisiana State University and the Artistic Director of the Collaborative Piano Institute.