Please visit our Facebook page for regular updates and to connect with the Handel Aria Competition community.

June, 2016


Praised for her “silvery, floating soprano,” Fiona Gillespie Jackson has recently appeared as a soloist with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, The Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, The Lehigh University Philharmonic, The Denton Bach Society, The Orchestra of New Spain, The Berks Sinfonietta, and on Early Music at St. James concert series with members of the Juilliard 415 Orchestra. Fiona recently made her UK debut as the title role in Armide with the Woodhouse Opera Festival. Additional recent roles include Colette in Le Devin du Village, and Edith in Pirates of Penzance. Fiona sings regularly with many of the nation’s top professional choral and small vocal ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Kinnara Ensemble, The South Dakota Chorale and Vocal Arts Ensemble. She teaches voice at Lycoming College, with whom she will tour China this May as a faculty soloist. She directs the opera and opera scenes program at the college.

Adele Grabowski, Lyric Mezzo Soprano in the Voxtet at Yale, Semifinalist in the 6th International Singing Competition for Baroque Opera Pietro Antonio Cesti in Innsbruck, Austria, and First Prize Winner of the Carnegie Mellon Baroque Concerto Competition, Adele has already worked with conductors David Hill, Simon Carrington, Masaaki Suzuki, and Manfred Honeck. Her festival appearances include the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Isle en Mer. Adele performed the role of Annio (La Clemenza di Tito, Undercroft Opera) at just nineteen years old, Nancy (Albert Herring, Carnegie Mellon University) and studied Ernesto (Il mondo della luna, Carnegie Mellon University) and Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel, Carnegie Mellon University). Adele has sang in multiple premiered new works, and sang Margo (The Merry Widow) with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and Juditha (Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie) with the Middle Saxony Theater. She also recently made her New York solo debut at Lincoln Center in the Bach Lutheran Masses with Yale Schola Cantorum and Julliard415. Recent performances include mezzo soprano soloist in Les Noces with Yale Camerata. Next month, Adele will be performing at The Greene Space as a soloist for the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL in the New York Premiere of Hilary Purrington’s For your judicious and pious consideration.

Eric Jurenas, Countertenor Declared by the New York Times as an artist with “beautiful, well-supported tone and compelling expression,” and defined as having an “exceptionally clear tone with vocal flexibility,” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) American countertenor Eric Jurenas is quickly making a name for himself in both the opera and concert scene. Eric has worked with several groups as a featured artist, including The Wiener Staatsoper, The Santa Fe Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Lafayette, Wolf Trap Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, American Bach Soloists, Juilliard 415, The Dayton Philharmonic, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Burlington Choral Society, Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival, and the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee, among others. He received his Masters degree from The Juilliard School and his Bachelors from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati. Please visit his website for updates and more information:

Soprano Christina Kay brings “both vocal and acting charm” to the stage, and is a versatile performer in the Madison and Milwaukee, WI areas. This season, she premiered the role of Young Clara Schumann in Fresco Opera Theatre’s musical drama Clara, featuring the music of Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Other recent roles include Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Mermaid (Rinaldo), Dalinda (Ariodante), and Second Woman/First Witch (Dido and Aeneas). Christina has appeared with Present Music’s Hearing Voices, Madison Choral Project, Rural Musicians Forum, Eliza’s Toyes, and the UW-Madison Concert Choir. This summer, she looks forward to performing in Lully’s Le Carnaval Mascarade at the Queens College Barque Opera Workshop, as well as attending the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco. Christina holds a B.A. in Music from Gettysburg College, and an M.M. in Vocal Performance from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Australian soprano Nola Richardson has been praised by the NY Times for her “beautiful tone” and the Washington Post for her “astonishing balance and accuracy”, “crystalline diction” and “natural-sounding ease”. She made her major symphony debut with the Baltimore Symphony performing works by Bach and Scarlatti and recently performed a program of Sondheim as a soloist with the Boston Pops under conductor Keith Lockhart. She has appeared with the American Bach Soloists, the Bach Sinfonia, Les Délices, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tempesta di Mare, and the Bach in Baltimore Series. As a DMA student at Yale she has performed as a soloist with conductors Masaaki Suzuki, Simon Carrington, David Hill, Matthew Halls and Nicholas McGegan. Last summer, Nola was a fellow at Tanglewood where she premiered works by David Lang and Michael Gandolfi alongside soprano Dawn Upshaw. In 2013, she was a young artist in the American stage debut of Handel’s first opera, Almira, at the Boston Early Music Festival. Nola holds two MM degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and she was the first singer to ever be accepted as an external candidate into both the Yale Voxtet and DMA program. For more information please visit

Elena Snow, Mezzo Soprano, was raised in Chicago. A recent graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston, Elena received her Bachelors degree in 2012 from DePaul University’s School of Music, where she sang several roles including Amore in Monteverdi’s Poppea and Nancy in Britten’s Albert Herring. Other recent roles include the title role in Rossini’s Cenerentola with Candid Concert Opera, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte at the New England Conservatory, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Chicago Summer Opera. She has performed as a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Opera Theatre as an Apprentice Artist for Sarasota Opera and Caramoor Opera. Elena has been the recipient of several awards in the past few years, including placing in both the 2013 and 2015 Bel Canto Competitions. This year at NEC, Elena sang the role of Cenerentola for NEC’s Outreach Opera Program and the role of the Wife in a premiere of composer Scott Wheeler’s new opera, Naga, in collaboration with NEC and Beth Morrison Projects. This April, Elena performed the role of Nerone in Handel’s comic opera Agrippina. She will once again join Caramoor Opera in the summer of 2016 as an Apprentice Artist and ensemble member for Fidelio and Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira.

Pascale Brigitte Boilard, soprano, is currently in the Master degree program for Vocal Performance at Université de Montréal where she recently played Cherubino in their production of Le nozze di Figaro. She has been a member of Opéra de Montréal’s chorus since 2015. Highlights of her solo performances include works such as the Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo of Haydn, Petite Messe Solennelle of Rossini, Fauré Requiem, Bach’s Coffee Cantata, BWV 211, and Vivaldi’s Gloria. This summer she will be studying at the Canadian Vocal Artist Institute led by Joan Dornemann, assistant conductor and coach at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The 2016 Handel Aria Competition Finals will be held on Friday, July 8th at 7:30 p.m. as a special concert before the Madison Early Music Festival.  The finalists will perform before a live audience and a distinguished panel of three judges. The audience also chooses a favorite!  Tickets are $10, general admission, and are now available at Orange Tree Imports, 1721 Monroe Street, Madison in person or by mail (call 608-255-8211).

January, 2016

Applications for the 2016 competition are now closed.

July 17, 2015

Sarah Brailey has been named first prize winner in the 2015 Handel Aria Competition, the only such event in the U.S focused exclusively on the operatic repertoire of George Frideric Handel. Seven vocalists, drawn from a field of 50 contestants from throughout North America, participated in the final round of the competition, a concert open to the public on Thursday evening, July 17 as part of the Madison Early Music Festival.

June 6, 2015

The Handel Aria Competition is pleased to announce that this year’s event will be supported in part by grants from the Madison Arts Commission, the MG & E Foundation, and the David S. Bourne Foundation.

May 1, 2015

We’re proud to announce the finalists for the 2015 Handel Aria Competition: Sarah Brailey, soprano; Corrine Byrne, soprano; Audrey L. Dawson, mezzo-soprano; Margaret Fox, mezzo-soprano;  Kristin Knutson, soprano;  Andrew Rader, countertenor; and Jacob Scharfman, baritone.  Over 50 talented singers from across the US and Canada auditions for this year’s Competition. Congratulations to our finalists and to everyone who participated!

April 15, 2015

The Madison Bach Musicians will provide instrumental accompaniment for this year’s Handel Aria Competition. This well-respected ensemble, founded in 2004 by harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson, is dedicated to presenting the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as works by other great composers of the Baroque, Renaissance, and Classical periods.

April 22, 2015 Update

Please visit our Facebook page for regular updates and to connect with the Handel Aria Competition community.

Finalists for the 2015 Handel Aria Competition will be announced May 1, 2015.

June 26, 2014 Update

Tickets ($10) to the 2014 Handel Aria Competition Concert are on sale now. You can purchase them in advance through Brown Paper Tickets online or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 (option 1).  On the day of the event tickets are available in person,  cash only, at Music Hall starting at 6 pm with doors.  All seating is General Admission.

Event Details:  Pre-concert lecture by John W. Barker at 6:30 pm in Rm 2650 Humanities Building at 455 N. Park Street (across the street).  7:30 pm Concert at Music Hall (925 Bascom).

May 1, 2014 Update

We’re proud to announce the finalists for the 2014 Handel Aria Competition:  Sarah Brailey, Nan Li, Daniel Moody, Chelsea Morris, Michael Roemer, Yukie Sato, and Daniel Shirley. The Runner-Up is Nola Richardson.  The competition was fierce with over 60 singers submitting recordings and three full rounds of evaluation.  Congratulations to our finalists and to everyone who participated!

The Competition will culminate with a live competition concert on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm in Music Hall hosted by the Madison Early Music Festival on the UW-Madison campus.   Three final round judges will evaluate the singers and award cash prizes to the top 3. The Audience will also choose the Audience Favorite, who wins a tuition voucher for MEMF 2015.  Tickets are $10 at the door (cash only) and are not included in the MEMF All-Festival Pass.

November 1, 2013 Update

The Handel Aria Competition sponsored An Evening of Handel, With Flare on November 9, 2013 as a fundraiser for next years competition. The 2013 first prize winner, mezzo-soprano Elisa Sutherland, returned to Madison to perform, and she was joined by Mimmi Fulmer, Melanie Cain, Rachel Edie Warrick, Rachel Eve Holmes, and Susanna Beerheide for a concert of Handel arias and duets (with a bit of Monteverdi thrown in for good measure). The singers were accompanied by Kirstin Ihde on harpsichord and Anton TenWolde  on cello.

July 10, 2013 Update

Jacob Stockinger reviewed The Handel Aria Competition event in his blog The Well-Tempered Ear on July 10, 2013

Click here to read the entire article.

July 9, 2013 Update

Jacob Stockinger featured the winners in the The Handel Aria Competition in his blog The Well-Tempered Ear on July 9, 2013

Click here to read the entire article.

July 9, 2013 Update

Marie Loeffler of Isthmus wrote about the winners of the

Handel Aria Competition on The Daily Page on July 9, 2013

Click here to read the entire article.

July 4, 2013 Update

The Handel Aria Competition was the cover story in 77 Square of the Wisconsin State Journal on July 4, 2013

Click here to read the entire article.

July 5, 2013 Update

Jacob Stockinger featured The Handel Aria Competition in his blog

The Well-Tempered Ear on July 5, 2013

Click here to read the entire article.