Competition Winners 2013


1st Prize - Nadine Sierra


Praised for her vocal beauty, seamless technique, and abundant musicality, soprano Nadine Sierra is being hailed as one of the most promising emerging talents in the opera world today. The youngest winner to date of both the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition, she is already making a name for herself though her performances with top opera companies and symphony orchestras around the world.

Having made her professional debut as a teenager with the Palm Beach Opera, she received her first national exposure at just 15, when she sang “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi on NPR’s young artist showcase From the Top. After graduating from New York’s Mannes College of Music, she entered the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera, where she made her company debut in 2011, creating the dual roles of Juliet and Barbara opposite Thomas Hampson in the world premiere production of Christopher Theofanidis’s 9/11 opera, Heart of a Soldier.

In the coming season, Sierra makes her Atlanta Opera debut as Gilda in a new staging of Verdi’s Rigoletto, her Valencia debut as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, her Zürich debut as Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and returns to the San Francisco Opera to sing Musetta in John Caird’s new production of La bohème and the Countess in John Copley’s iconic staging of Le nozze di Figaro. In concert, she joins the Cleveland Orchestra and Oregon Symphony for Orff’s Carmina Burana, the San Antonio Symphony for Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, and the Master Chorale of South Florida for Handel’s Messiah. With her fellow 2010 George London Foundation Award winner, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, she gives a George London Foundation Recital at the Morgan Library in New York City.

Verdi’s Gilda was the vehicle for Sierra’s debuts at the Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Italy’s Teatro di San Carlo, as well as for her recent return to Boston Lyric Opera, where she first appeared as Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her other notable engagements include last season’s debuts at the Virginia Opera, Israeli Opera, and Italy’s Teatro Lirico di Cagliari; her portrayal of the Princess in Gotham Chamber Opera’s U.S. premiere production of Xavier Montsalvatge’s El gato con botas; her return to the Palm Beach Opera in a title role in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice; her Glimmerglass Festival debut in staged performances of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater; and last year’s debut with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. In recital, the soprano has appeared at venues ranging from Carnegie’s Weill Hall to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she has performed alongside both Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson.

A winner of numerous vocal competitions, Sierra placed first at the Neue Stimmen, Montserrat Caballé, and Veronica Dunne International Singing Competitions in 2013. Three years earlier, she won first prizes at the George London Competition, Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, and Loren Zachary Competition. A recipient of both the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s Study and Career Grant, her numerous previous competition wins include the 2007 Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition and the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as recounted by Nick Romeo in his book Driven: Six Incredible Musical Journeys (2011), a chapter of which is devoted to Sierra’s Grand Finals triumph. Sierra has also been featured as the subject of an Opera News “Sound Bites” column and the cover story of Uptempomagazine’s inaugural issue.

A native of south Florida, the American soprano was born in 1988 to a Portuguese mother and an American father of Puerto Rican and Italian descent.

Nadine is managed by IMG Artists



2nd Prize - Stephen Chambers


The New Zealander-born British tenor, Stephen Chambers, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology, as well as a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the University of Otago, a Graduate Performance Diplomas (GPD) in Opera from the Boston Conservatory, and an Master of Music degree in Opera from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Operatic roles played by Stephen Chambers include Soldier in The Emperor of Atlantis, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Albert in Albert Herring, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, The Schoolmaster in The Cunning Little Vixen, and Lt. Bonner in War and Peace. He also premiered the role of Daumer in Kaspar Hauser: Child of Europe by Rory Boyle.

In 2010 he made his debuts at the BBC Proms as a soloist in Ralph Vaughan WilliamsSerenade to Music (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Runnicles), and at the Edinburgh Festival as a Trojan man in Idomeneo (Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Roger Norrington).

Stephen Chambers studied with Stephen Robertson and completed the Opera Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow (RSAMD), as the recipient of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) nternational postgraduate scholarship. He has also been supported by Sir James Caird’s Travelling Scholarships Trust.

In 2011 Stephen Chambers went to the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, became a Samling scholar and attended the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence académies in June-July. In 2012 he was one of the Young Artists in Residence at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) and sang his first J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (BWV 245) as both the Evangelist and tenor soloist with members of the Dunedin Consort and their conductor, John Butt (O.B.E). That Summer, he sang in the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and covered the role of Nuñes Vidal in The Yellow Sofa for the Glyndebourne tour.

Stephen was a finalist in the 2014 Hans-Gabor-Belvedere Singing Competition. From August 2013 to June 2015, he was a member of the International Opera Studio at the Berlin Staatsoper, where his roles included: Gastone in La traviata, Oberrichter in Un ballo in maschera, 3rd Jew  in Salome, messenger  in Aida, Count of Lerma und the royal herald in Don Carlo, the roles  of  Inquisitor, Judge I, Charles Edward, Ragotski in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, Melot in Tristan und Isolde, Spoletta in Tosca, First armoured man in Die Zauberflöte, the drunk prisoner in Janá?ek’s From the House of the Dead, Knappe in Parsifal, and  Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos.



3rd Prize - Insu Hwang


Born in Seoul, Insu Hwang studied at Yonsei University, then in Germany at the Hochschule für Musik, Karlsruhe with Donald Litaker and at the Hochschule für Musik, Detmold with Susan Anthony.

He has made numerous concert appearances with the Hof Symphony Orchestra in Bavaria, and solo recitals in Brussels and Karlsruhe, received a DAAD Scholarship in 2011 and a Brahmshaus Scholarship in 2012.

He has taken part in a number of international competitions apart from the Veronica Dunne 2013 competition, at which he also won the special Mozart Prize. He reached the finalof the 2011 Queen Elizabeth competition and won 2nd prize at the Gut Immling international singing competition. He represented South Korea at the 2015 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Insu has made numerous concert appearances with the Hof Symphony Orchestra in Bavaria, and solo recitals in Brussels and Karlsruhe. Opera roles include Guglielmo Così fan tutte and Count Le nozze di Figaro, both in Seoul; the title role in Falstaff in Karlsruhe; and Zar in Kurt Weill’s Der Zar lässt sich photografieren in Munich.

He is currently a member of the Young Artist programme at the Landestheater Detmold, where I have performed the roles of Montano Otello, First Nazarene Salome and Sarastro Die Zauberflöte.



4th Prize - Gemma ni Bhriain


Mexxo-Soprano Gemma ni Bhriain is a member of the Atelier Lyrique  Young Artists Programme at the Bastille Opera, Paris, where her roles have included Katchen in Werther. She graduated in 2014 with a BA in Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where her teachers were  Veronica Dunne and repetiteur Dearbhla Collins. While still an undergraduate, Gemma was a member of Opera Theatre Company’s Young Associate Artists' Programme. Her singing has taken her around the world, including China where she performed as soloist with the International School’s Choral Music Society, performing Haydn's Nelson Mass in The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing in February 2014.

Dublin Engagements include Elgar's Sea Pictures with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra in the National Concert Hall and in June she performed in the role of one of Jenny's Girls in Kurt Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny with Rough Magic and OTC.  She has performed as guest soloist with the RTÉ NSO and has been a soloist with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra, performing Handel's Messiah and Vaughan-William's Serenade to Music.

Gemma has had success on the competition circuit having secured the Dermot Troy Award for Best Irish Singer and the Dame Joan Sutherland Award for Most Promising Young Singer in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition 2013. She also participated in the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Amsterdam, where she was awarded the Wil Keune Prize for a Young Singer of Real Potential. She has won numerous prizes at the Dublin Feis Ceoil over the years, most notably the Dramatic cup and the Gervase Elwes Memorial cup at the 2014 competition. In June 2014, she was awarded the National Concert Hall E5,000 Bernadette Greevy bursary for singers.



5th Prize - Symon Komasa


Baritone Szymon Komasa, a native of Warsaw, completed the  Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at Juilliard in 2015, studying with Edith Wiens. Prior to that, Mr. Komasa attended the Opera Studies program at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He performed the role of Schaunard in La bohème at the Arena di Verona Teatro Filarmonico (2009) and at the Semperoper in Dresden (2012), and the role of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte in Poland.

He has won several international competitions in Poland, Germany, and Italy, and made it to the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World finals in 2013, representing Poland. Notably, he won 1st prize at the 2014 Marcella Sembrich Voice Competition.  He also sang at Valery Gergiev's 60th Birthday Gala Concert at London's Barbican Hall, conducted by the honoree. Mr. Komasa will made his debut in the 14/15 season at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy, performing the role of a German Soldier in Henze's Gisela!



6th Prize - Aoife Miskelly


Northern Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly trained as a Sickle Foundation Scholar at Royal Academy Opera under Jennifer Dakin and Audrey Hyland, graduating with the Regency Award in 2012. The 2013/14 season saw Aoife make several notable role debuts, including Gilda (Rigoletto) and Gretel for Cologne, Cecily in the Irish premiere of Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest for Northern Ireland Opera/Wide Open Opera, and Thérèse in Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias at La Monnaie, a role which she first performed for Aix-en-Provence in June 2013. In July 2014, Aoife returned to the Aix-en-Provence Festival for their production of Trauernacht (staged Bach cantatas), directed by Katie Mitchell.

Throughout the course of her studies, Aoife was a finalist at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards (2010), the first prize winner of the Hampshire National Singing Competition (2011), winner of the Bernadette Greevy Bursary (2011) and the BBC NI Young Artists Platform Award sponsored by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (2011). A Samling Scholar, a Britten-Pears and Internationale Meistersinger Akademie Young Artist, Aoife was also a finalist for the Royal Overseas League Competition (2012), the Young Classical Artists Trust at the Wigmore Hall (2012) and the 2013 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition at the National Concert Hall Dublin. In May 2014, Aoife was awarded the prestigious Offenbach Prize by the friends of the Cologne Opera House for outstanding achievement throughout the season.

Previous roles include Sophie Scholl in the world premiere of Kommilitonen! by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies directed by David Poutney (RAO), Pamina (RAO and Bath Festival), Despina (RAO), Servilia (Cologne), Sophie (Werther) Les Azuriales Opera, The Governess (Dartington) and covering Diana in Diana and Acteon by Jonathan Dove for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

A natural performer of modern music, Aoife performed the role of Mary Crawford in the London Premiere of Jonathan Dove’s opera Mansfield Park in May 2012 with Royal Academy Opera directed by John Ramster. With Camerata Ireland and pianist/conductor Barry Douglas, Aoife sang in the world premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s At Sixes and Sevens in July 2013. In April 2014, Aoife returned to sing with Camerata Ireland and Codetta in their performance live on Spanish Radio of Beethoven’s oratorio Christ on the mount of olives in Cuenca, Spain.

Aoife is also a very keen oratorio singer, having performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, St. John Passion, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen and Magnificat, Beethoven’s Mass in C (Cologne Cathedral), Brahms Requiem (St. Martin in the fields), Carissimi’s Jepthe (St. John’s Smith Square), Handel’s Messiah, Dixit Dominus, Laudate, pueri, Dominum, and Saul (conducted by Laurence Cummings), Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Monteverdi Vespers (Ely Cathedral), Mozart’s Requiem, Coronation Mass and Exultate Jubilate, Carmina Burana (Ulster Orchestra), Poulenc’s Gloria, Stravinsky’s Mass, Varese’s Nocturnal (NYOGB) and Vivaldi’s Gloria, among others.

In the 2014/15 season Aoife returned home to Northern Ireland Opera to sing Pamina in September and thened join the Cologne Opera House as an ensemble member where her roles included: Despina, Harey (Solaris by Detlev Glanert), Valencienne (Die lustige Witwe), Papagena, Eliza Dolittle (My Fair Lady) at the Royal Opera House Muskat, Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito) and Frasquita in Carmen.

Other operatic roles performed recently whilst as a member of the Cologne International Opera Studio include Nella (Gianni Schicchi), 2. Stimme (Jakob Lenz by Wolfgang Rihm), 4th Flowermaiden (Parsifal), Die Grossmutter (Der Räuber Hotzenplotz), Schneewittchen (Snow White), and Neitrude (Aschenputtel/Cinderella).