Lotte Lehmann Foundation
The Lotte Lehmann Foundation, named for the great German soprano active in the first half of the 20th century, served to preserve and perpetuate her legacy, and to honor her dream of bringing art song into the lives of as many people as possible.
Gary Hickling, the founder of the Lehmann Foundation, met Lehmann in the early sixties, observing first the private lessons she gave at Orplid, her home in Santa Barbara, and later, her master classes at the Music Academy of the West, which she helped found in 1947. Hickling became a noted expert on Lehmann’s career and work, compiling a Lehmann discography in 1987. He continued to compile and collect material and memorabilia relating to Lehmann’s career, which now forms a significant part of the Lotte Lehmann Archive in Santa Barbara. The Foundation’s precursor, the Lotte Lehmann League, published a newsletter from 1989-1994. The League has since 2011 been re-established, with only a website: www.lottelehmannleague.org. The Lotte Lehmann League website provides an in-depth look at Lehmann's career and includes extensive material on art song.
In the early years of its existence, Hickling was solely responsible for maintaining the Foundation, operations of which were transferred from Hawaii to New York City in 2003. The composer Daron Hagen was chosen as the newly configured Foundation’s president, and an entirely new Board of Directors was chosen at that time. Mezzo soprano Linn Maxwell was elected president in 2007. Since 2010 Larry Smith has been president. Hickling retired from the Foundation in 2005 and remains an emeritus member of the Board of Directors.
The Lehmann Foundation was a respected non-profit musical foundation in the United States. Its activities included two competitions, the first of which, the internet-based CyberSing vocal competition occurred every two years and solicited recordings from singers the world over. Entrants submitted recordings of appropriate literature, including a song written expressly for the competition by a distinguished composer. These songs were commissioned from composers such as Ned Rorem, Libby Larsen and Dan Welcher. Winners were chosen solely on the basis of their recorded submissions. Laureates of the 2006 competition included sopranos Debra Stanley and Danielle Talamantes and baritone Andrew Garland.
The ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Foundation Song Cycle Competition, which occurred in alternating years with CyberSing, solicited compositions by young composers resident in or native of the United States; winners received commissions to compose individual songs or, in the case of the First Prize recipient, a song cycle. Winners of the 2005 competition included Scott Gendel and Mark Buntag. Gendel’s prize-winning commission, the song cycle The Space Between was published by E.C. Schirmer and premiered by soprano Martha Guth and pianist Bradley Moore on 24 February 2007 at the Bruno Walter Auditorium in New York under the auspices of the Joy in Singing Foundation.
VoxNova Media comprised another aspect of the Foundation’s activities. The mission of this division was to produce media in a variety of forms, including audio recordings, video recordings, printed materials. VNM plan was to reissue historical audio recordings by Lehmann and her colleagues, present new recordings of contemporary vocal repertoire and of the vocal art of contemporary interpreters.
In addition to these programs and activities, the Foundation presented an annual World of Song Award which alternated among composers, singers, and collaborative pianists and served to recognize those who have devoted their creative lives to this enriching form of music. Its most recent recipient is John Wustman, the distinguished American collaborative pianist and educator; previous recipients include composers Dominick Argento and Ned Rorem, pianists Dalton Baldwin and Graham Johnson, tenor Hugues Cuénod, mezzo soprano Janet Baker, and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The Foundation also published SongScape, a biannual newsletter, edited by Board Member Craig Urquhart and featuring news of the Foundation’s activities. The Foundation has ceased activities.