Student Thomas Florio wins second place in The American Prize vocal performance competition

Baritone Thomas Florio, a student of Brian Horne, has garnered second place in The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards competition, 2011, in the male college/university art song division. Mr. Florio was selected from scores of applications reviewed this spring from twenty-eight U.S. states.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit, national competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the very best performing artists and ensembles in the United States. The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts. Complete information on the website:

Finalists for The American Prize receive professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for their artistry, based on their submitted recordings.

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards honors the memory of Friedrich Schorr (1888-1943), the greatest Wagnerian baritone of his age, who dominated the international opera stage between the world wars, and his wife, Virginia (1904-1990), who taught studio voice at the Manhattan School of Music and the Hartt School of Music for nearly fifty years.

The artist supplied this biographical sketch:

Baritone Thomas Florio can be heard as Judge No. 3 on the Grammy-nominated recording of John Musto’s Volpone. He has sung with the Wolf Trap Opera Studio, the Merola Opera Program, the Lafayette Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Czech National Philharmonic Orchestra. His roles include Dulcamara, Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Raimondo, Lackai, Sarastro, Frank Murrant, Monsieur Choufleuri, and Giuseppe (The Light in the Piazza).


The American Prize grew from the belief that a great deal of excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.

With the performing arts in America marginalized like never before, The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The American Prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known.

David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, Katz was the founder and for twelve years chief judge of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice international competition. He is author of MUSE of FIRE, the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting. Joining Katz is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience as we hope finalists and winners of The American Prize will be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing virtually every region of the country, the group includes professional vocalists, conductors, composers and pianists, tenured professors and orchestra and choral musicians.

“Many artists may never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or perhaps ever even be nominated,” Katz said, “but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to just those prize winners, to the coasts, to the familiar names, or only to graduates of the most famous schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence. ”

By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, finalists of The American Prize receive world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. “If The American Prize helps build careers, or contributes to local pride, or assists with increasing the audience for an artist or ensemble, builds the donor base, or stimulates opportunities or recruitment for participating artists and ensembles, then we have fulfilled our mission,” Katz said.

In addition to the Schorr voice awards, in 2011 The American Prize sponsors competitions for conductors, ensembles, pianists and composers. The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization based in Danbury, Connecticut.

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