Since 1993, the Igor Gorin Memorial Award has awarded $358,000 to help 47 individual young vocalists at the start of their operatic career. Igor never forgot his early struggles to survive and launch his career; consequently, his family established this award at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona as a fitting way to honor his memory in providing opportunities for aspiring vocalists.

For gifted vocalists poised to begin successful careers, flying from city to city to audition, and hiring accompanists and coaches is expensive. The award money is unrestricted and may be used for coaching, travel, clothing, living costs, and audition expenses. The 2022 award is up to $10,000 at the discretion of the judging committee.


2022 Award Recipients

Emily Blair is a versatile and engaging young artist originally from Chicago, Illinois. She joined the prestigious Merola Opera Program for the 2021 season and was previously a Benenson Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera for two seasons. She is a veteran of numerous young artist programs, including The CoOperative Program, Music Academy International, Canadian Vocal Arts Institute, and Up North Vocal Institute. Emily is a graduate of Mannes College of Music in The New School, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. When not on stage, she can be found cuddling with her cats, teaching yoga, or browsing bookshops.

When asked how she envisions giving back to the performing arts community, Emily shared that she leads yoga classes designed for performers and is developing a course to support performers’ mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. She stated, “Through healing ourselves and building a deep connection to our inner artist, we can share that with the world and deepen the profound impact of music.”


Simone McIntosh is an accomplished young artist originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, and currently residing in Paris, France. She was an Adler Fellow for the prestigious San Francisco Opera, an ensemble artist for the Canadian Opera Company, and an artist in the renowned Merola Opera Program. Over the years, Simone has received several distinguished awards, including the Wirth Vocal Prize, COC Ensemble Studio Competition, Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries Competition, and was included in the CBC’s “20 Hottest Classical Musicians Under 30” in 2016. Simone is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with a BMus in Opera, and of the McGill Schulich School of Music with an MMus Voice.

In reflecting on her goals as a performing artist, Simone shared, “My goals are to strive for excellence and beauty in my music-making, not perfection. I want to let the music lead me to fulfilling places physically, mentally, and emotionally. I wish to provide space for audiences to experience and reflect on what beauty means to them.”


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 1930’s through the 1960’s. 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, then 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.

Award Recipients

Previous Recipients

2022 Emily Blair, Simone McIntosh

2020 Christopher Oglesby

2019 Christian Pursell

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