Igor Gorin Memorial Award

2019 Igor Gorin Memorial Award Winner Announced 

The Igor Gorin Memorial Award announces bass-baritone Christian Pursell as the recipient of the 2019 Award.   Mr. Pursell is currently an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera.  As this year’s awardee, Mr. Pursell received $10,000 in unrestricted support to help relieve some of the financial burden that often hinders young artists at the onset of their career.

Winner of the Sullivan Foundation’s prestigious Theodor Uppman Award, his 2017 season saw debuts at both Houston Grand Opera and the Vienna State Opera, and a critically acclaimed performance of Dandini in La Cenerentola with the Merola Opera Program.

Mr. Pursell’s 2018 season included his debut with San Francisco Opera as Walter Raleigh in Roberto Devereux.  That same year he was named recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant and was Second Award winner of the Jensen Foundation Competition. Mr. Pursell’s upcoming engagements include Samuel in Handel’s Saul with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Handel’s Messiah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Mr. Pursell shared, “I am so honored to receive the Igor Gorin Memorial Award!  Thank you for this immense support. I am so, so grateful.”

Igor Gorin Memorial Award History

The Igor Gorin Memorial Award was established in 1987 by Mary Gorin as a fitting way to honor the memory of her husband, Igor Gorin, a world-renowned opera singer.  This unrestricted award is given out once a year to help aspiring opera singers with expenses associated with hiring accompanists and coaches, and auditioning as they transition from school into professional careers.

Held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, this Fund has awarded more than $318,000 to 44 individual young artists since 1993.  Today, the Igor Gorin Memorial Award is one of the most prestigious and generous awards of its kind in the country.

Information for 2020 Applicants:

Information on the 2020 application process will be available in July 2019.  To learn more, please contact Enedina Miller at emiller@cfsaz.org or (520) 770-0800 Ext. 7111.

Additional Award Information

Mr. Gorin was a Russian refugee who, in the late 1920’s, escaped to Vienna before immigrating to the United States. His star began to rise as a member of the Czechoslovakian Opera Company. Later, he was invited to the United States by a synagogue in Providence, Rhode Island where he assumed cantorial duties.  This was the beginning of a spectacular career in radio, film, stage and television.

Earning a reputation as the “Prince of Baritones,” Igor Gorin’s career spanned the 1930s through the 1960s. During WWII, he gave more of his time and talent entertaining the troops than anyone in Hollywood.  He had a personal motivation, as his father, brother and sister were in Auschwitz and Igor desperately wanted to see them freed.  Singing to the troops, he later said, was his way of saying “thank you.”

Igor and Mary Gorin retired to Tucson in 1965. Before long, the University of Arizona President Richard Harvill invited Igor to begin a second career teaching opera at the university. In working with the next generation of voices, Igor was reminded of his own early struggles to survive and launch his career.

Previous Recipients

2018 Stephanie Sanchez

2017 Jaqueline Piccolino

2016 Julie Adams

2015  Calvin Griffin

2014  Chris Carr

2013 Ryan Kuster

2012 Ryan Belongie, Yunnie Park

2011 Eugene Chan, Tammi Huber, Robyn Rocklein

2009 Kaitlin Bertenshaw, Tammi Huber, Seth Kershisnik, Robyn Rocklein, Dennis Tamblyn

2007 Kara Harris, Tammi Huber, Priya Palekar

2006 Deana Mireau, Christina Pier, Vanessa Salaz, April Wilde

2004 Michael Cavalieri, Priya Palekar, Chrstina Pier, Vanessa Salaz

2003 Deana Mireau, Vanessa Salaz, Todd Strange

2002 Jesus Aguirre, Jessica Deardorff, Chad Miller, Deana Mireau, Amanda Polychronis, Vanessa Salaz, Todd Strange

2001 Ilse Apestegui, Yoo Ri Clark, Jennifer Anne Cooper, Chad Miller, Vanessa Salaz

2000 Yoo Ri Clark, Deana Mireau, Vanessa Salaz

1999 Tania Beasley, Jennifer Anne Cooper, Emil Dorian Cristescu, Regina Felsing, Bridgett Hooks, Elizabeth Miller Wesley, Ralph Daniel Rawe

1998 Jennifer Anne Cooper, Bridgett Hooks, Herbert Perry, Wendi Washington-Hunt

1997 Julianne Best, Emily Dorian Cristescu, Jennifer Anne Cooper, Wendi Washington-Hunt

1996 Jennifer Anne Cooper, Karol Kazarian, Eugene Perry

1995 Donna Ames, Emily Dorian Cristescu, Korby Myrick

1994 Emily Dorian Cristescu

1993 Donna Ames, Mark Anderson, Bridgett Hooks