NEW YORK, NY 10019

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The Lanie & Ethel

About Us

The George London Awards competition, named after the renowned bass baritone, has been one of the most reliable purveyors of young talent since its founding in 1971.”
Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, April 2012

Our mission

For over 40 years, George London Awards have been given to outstanding young professional opera singers during their early careers, often a difficult time.

Initially created under the auspices of the National Opera Institute, the awards program has been administered by the George London Foundation in New York as a living legacy to George London’s own exceptional talent and generosity.

George London, remembering his own struggle, wished to make the road to success a little easier for future generations of singers.

The Foundation remains committed to his goal.

Our programs

The juried competition for American and Canadian singers awards more than $70,000 annually. Learn more here.

The Vienna Prize features a two-week residency in Austria, an audition with the Vienna Opera, and extensive musical coaching in German repertoire and language. Vienna Prize winners.

Each year the George London Foundation collaborates with the Morgan Library & Museum in NYC to a sponsor events bringing some of the finest performers singing today into one of the most outstanding cultural institutions in the world. The recital series began in 1995 to give grantees exposure, experience, and often, their New York debut. Learn more.

Each season consists of three recitals often pairing a recent award winner with a well-known international artist – many of whom are George London Award winners. Recent recitals have included Michelle DeYoung, Joyce DiDonato, Marcello Giordani, Ben Heppner, James Morris and Dolora Zajick. See past recitalists.

Board of Directors

Nora London and Pamela DrexelGLF President Nora London with newly named Executive Vice President Pamela Drexel

Nora London President

Nora London was born and raised in Europe, coming to the United States at the end of World War II. She established the New York based George London Foundation in 1995 and is also the honorary president of the George London Stiftung, an Austrian Foundation. Mrs. London is the author of a biography of George London, Of Gods and Demons and collaborated on the film, George London: Between Gods and Demons, issued by Arthaus Berlin in 2011.

Pamela Drexel Executive Vice President

Currently President of PDW Associates, a management consulting and program development firm, Pamela was Executive Director of the Brain Trauma Foundation. She has held a number of executive positions in the nonprofit sector including President of The Tobin Foundation and Executive Director of Arts International. In the public policy arena, she served as Professional Staff Member on the United States Senate Labor Committee where she covered health and education issues and all the federal cultural programs. She was also closely involved with the National Opera Institute, the predecessor of the George London Foundation.

Bruce Donnell Vice President

Bruce Donnell studied at Friedelind Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival Master Classes before joining the Metropolitan Opera as a stage director in 1975. He has staged productions for San Francisco, Austin, the Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, among others, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Internationally, he has staged productions in Toronto, Paris, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires. He has worked at the Yale School of Music, the University of Illinois, the Shepherd School of Music and the Music Academy of the West and also serves on the boards of several music foundations.

Deirdre Howley Vice President

A native New Yorker, Deirdre Howley, graduated from Marymount Manhattan with majors in Speech/Theatre and Education and a minor in French. Since meeting her husband, Ira Eisenstadt, she has been a volunteer worker for various arts organizations. New York City Opera, American Ballet Theatre and the School of American Ballet occupied her time from the late seventies. She joined the board of Opera Index in the early eighties and served as Chairman of the Board 1988-90. From 1990 to 1998, Deirdre was General Director of Opera Manhattan, a small opera company devoted to presenting rarely done repertoire and donating all box office proceeds to AIDS organizations. Deirdre joined the board of the George London Foundation for Singers in 1996.

Giovanni D. Favretti Treasurer

Giovanni Favretti is a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc., where he runs the Equities Division funding desk in the Americas. His responsibilities include cash, collateral and capital management. He holds an A. B from Harvard University in Classics, and pursued further studies in piano performance, composition and orchestral conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst “Mozarteum” in Salzburg. In addition to the George London Foundation, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Club, and is a Trustee of the Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts and the Joye Cottage Foundation. He is a member of the American Antiquarian Society, the Grolier Club, the American Printing History Association and the American Bibliographical Association. An avid choral singer, he is also a member of the Amor Artis Chamber Choir.

Thurmond Smithgall Secretary

Thurmond Smithgall is an arts consultant who has worked as an artist representative and producer of opera-in-concert in New York. He is founder and Chairman of the Lanie & Ethel Foundation, an organization dedicated to furthering the careers of young performing artists, educational outreach in schools and the performance of neglected musical compositions. A former oboist, Mr. Smithgall is a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Hudson Review and Los Angeles Opera. He serves as trustee of the Orel Foundation and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, member of the Board of Overseers of New England Conservatory, and member of the Kuratorium of the Bayreuth Festival.


Maria Bedo

Maria Bedo, Executive Director, joined the George London Foundation when it became apparent that a full-time director was necessary as the Foundation continued to grow. Previous to the GLF, she was an administrator at Amberson Inc., the managers of the music and legacy of Leonard Bernstein. In addition, Maria has the advantage of having trained and worked as a singer and voice teacher herself. She brings her knowledge of the demands of the classical singing world and the unique needs of those artists to the Foundation.

Board of Directors

Liliane L. Brochu
Laurie J. Camm
Richard Gaddes
Matthew A. Horner
Alfred F. Hubay
Mary E. Kirk
Dr. Marc London
Marina London
Susanne Mentzer
Hope S. Miller
James D. Rigler
William D. Robbins, Esq.
John B. Roberts, Esq.
Vera Stern
Nicoletta Valletti
John Wollberg

Maria Bedo, Executive Director

Advisory Board

William S. Appleton
Michael Benchetrit
Ken Benson
Linden E. Chubin
Matthew Epstein
Renée Fleming
Andrew P. Garvin
Philip Garvin
Ernst Ludwig Gausmann
James Morris
Ken Noda
Craig Rutenberg
George Shirley
Ruth Sickafus
Peter C. Sutro
Alec C. Treuhaft

Honorary Board

Licia Albanese
Martina Arroyo
Harolyn Blackwell
Christine Brewer
Michelle DeYoung
Joyce DiDonato
Nedda Casei
Rosalind Elias
Ruth Falcon
Thomas Hampson
Stephen J. Holowid
Marilyn Horne
Anthony Laciura
Catherine Malfitano
Sherrill Milnes
René Pape
Roberta Peters
Matthew Polenzani
Samuel Ramey
Regina Resnik
Elinor Ross
Neil Shicoff
Teresa Stratas
Dawn Upshaw