We had a great time yesterday evening in Gütersloh. The little town was really en fȇte for Christmas as well as for the Bertelsmann celebrations. The main square was transformed into a huge Christmas market such as you can only find in Germany.
Prizewinners of the competition returned for the occasion with the winners of 2001, 2003, 2005, and the most recent one, Olga Bezsmertna from 2011, all taking part in the concert. The program was streamed live on Medici.com and will in due course be available for delayed streaming.
It was great to see Ioan Holender and Thomas Hampson there live, and Henry Kissinger and Daniel Barenboim sent video messages. There was a general assembly of great and good apart from these gentlemen, and Liz Mohn, the founder and guiding spirit, the passionate promoter and principal cheerleader for Neue Stimmen, was rapturously applauded for her vision and generosity in sustaining, with her late husband Reinhard Mohn, this remarkable competition. And she could also not have done it without Gustav Kuhn's dedication. Gustav has been the artistic guiding spirit all this time, and a huge encouragement to Liz over the years.
I was thrilled to see and hear how remarkably Olga Bezsmertna has developed in the last 14 month since her prize winning performance in 2011. She is now a member of the Vienna State Opera company and just recently triumphed as the Countess in four performances of Le nozze di Figaro. We all believe that she has a major future ahead of her.
And it was also a huge pleasure to see again Nadezhda Karyazina, one of the finalists I recruited in Moscow in 2011. Nadezhda was the 5th prize winner last year, and here is a perfect example of why singers should NOT be disappointed if the do not make it to the top three. She is well on her way to a great career.....and there are other past examples. Christiane Karg was 6th in 2007, and Jane Archibald 4th in 2005. They have done as well or better than the outright winners! So remember - this is just an ephemeral moment in time. But participation in this competition is a wonderful introduction to a great family.
I would like to encourage all my qualified singer readers to participate in Neue Stimmen in 2013. Applications will be on line from January 1. In April I will be starting my round of auditions to determine the 40 finalists who go to Gütersloh in October. I begin in North America in April, and finish in South America in August. In between I will be in Asia and Europe - 22 cities all together. I will be sharing some of the work with Evamaria Wieser. So I am taking a year off from Moscow which she will do alone.
I left Gütersloh this morning and am now in the City of Light. Go to the link and take your pick! I will be back in London on Tuesday afternoon. I have a lovely week ahead of me.