About Us

The Handel Aria Competition was established in 2013 by Dean and Carol “Orange” Schroeder, enthusiasts of the vocal repertoire of George Frideric Handel. The purpose of the competition is to encourage emerging singers of all voice types to explore the repertoire of Handel. Entrants for 2013, our inaugural year, included singers from across the US and Canada. In addition to cash prizes to the top three winners, the audience selected an “audience favorite.” The field of applicants has expanded to include singers from around the world, and the cash prizes have been increased significantly.


Dean & Orange Schroeder 2Dean and Carol “Orange” Schroeder
have been co-owners of Orange Tree Imports, an award-winning gift and gourmet shop on Monroe Street in Madison, Wisconsin,  since 1975. Dean’s passion for Handel stems from his love of singing and playing the piano, as well an appreciation of the work of musicians ranging from The King’s Singers to B. B. King. He shares Orange’s interests in the theater, Celtic harp music, and all things Danish.

In addition to the Handel Aria Competition, the Schroeders support other local arts groups including APT, Fresco Opera, Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, the Madison Early Music Festival, and Forward Theater.



Sarah Brailey, Artistic Director

Hailed by The New York Times for her “radiant, liquid tone,” and “exquisitely phrased” singing and by Opera UK for “a sound of remarkable purity,” HAC Artistic Director and soprano Sarah Brailey enjoys a career that resists specialization. Highlights include Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the Lorelei Ensemble and Boston Symphony Orchestra, performing with Kanye West and Roomful of Teeth at the Hollywood Bowl, and recording cello and vocal soundscapes for the 2018 Fog x FLO Fujiko Nakaya public art installation in Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system.

Sarah is a featured soloist on numerous GRAMMY®-nominated albums including New York Polyphony’s Sing Thee Nowell and The Clarion Choir’s recording of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week. She also appears as a soloist on the premiere recording of Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Sarah was the First Prize winner of the 2015 Handel Aria Competition and is a co-founder of Just Bach, a new monthly concert series in Madison. Learn more at www.sarahbrailey.com.

Board of Directors

Cheryl Bensman-Rowe (founding Artistic Director), Chelsey Bowles, Scott Gendel, Karlos Moser, Chelsie Propst, David Ronis, Dean and Orange Schroeder, Nick Schweitzer, Dan Shea, and Jeff Turk.