It was overshadowed by the passing of Kammersängerin Hilde Zadek on 21 February 2019 that the 11th Hilde Zadek Voice Competition took place from 22 to 27 April at the mdw. Never before had it been held in the absence of its namesake. Since 1999, this competition—organised by the Hilde Zadek Foundation in cooperation with the mdw—has been upholding the pedagogical intentions of this great soprano and voice teacher, who worked her entire life long to nurture young talents. “I’ve never taught because I had to; it’s instead been out of love and out of that need that stems from the fact that it’s only through love that we can be happy,” is how Hilde Zadek described her guiding principle as a teacher. And in teaching, it was also “a constant concern of mine to emphasise not only technique, but above all the human connection to music.”

Hilde Zadek at her honorary mdw membership ceremony in 2017 © Stephan Polzer

This competition has placed special emphasis on contemporary music since its inception, and its thematic focus in 2019 was on 21st century opera. At the competition’s final round on 27 April in the Glass Hall of the Vienna Musik­verein, soprano Anna Nekhames won over the jury with her talent, claiming the EUR 10,000 first prize. Nekhames, who was born in Russia in 1995, began singing in the children’s choir of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 2004. Following studies at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre and at the Russian National Gnesin Academy of Music, she transferred to the MUK – Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna. The competition’s jury included the singer Thomas Quasthoff, Birgit Meyer (Director, Cologne Opera), Walter Kobera (Neue Oper Wien), Angelika Möser (Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna), Evamaria Wieser (Young Singers Project, Salzburg Festival), Thomas Mittermayr (Musikverein), Helga Machreich-Unterzaucher (Machreich Artists Management), Kammersängerin Birgid Steinberger, and Michaela Dickgiesser (honorary senator and member of the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy). The 2nd prize was claimed ex aequo by the mdw students Josipa Bainac and Andromahi Raptis, while Lada Bočková received the Special Prize of the mdw and the MUK.

You can watch the final-round concert at the Vienna Musikverein via the mdwMediathek

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