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Eau Claire Native Wins
Recital Tour of Finland
MAILED: June 17, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus was awarded second place at the 2nd International Yrjö Kilpinen Art Song Competition held April 6-7 at Edgewood College in Madison. Eau Claire native Daniel Brenna, now of Staten Island, New York, also is a graduate of Memorial High School.
Along with his second place prize of $1,500, Brenna also received an additional award of an all expense paid recital tour of Finland, sponsored by Finnair and the Kilpinen Society of Helsinki, scheduled for March 2003.
"This year, for the first time, Finnair gave us tickets to assign one of the winners," said Vernon Sell, president of the Yrjö Kilpinen Society of North America, Ltd. "This is a special award. We hope we can offer it again."
Finnish composer Yrjö Kilpinen, 1892-1959, was popular in Germany during the 1930s as a proponent of the German lied tradition of romantic art songs written for solo voice and piano accompaniment. His was one of the greatest successes a Finnish composer had ever enjoyed outside his own country.
Prior to the competition, Brenna, a tenor, had never sung in Finnish nor heard of Kilpinen, who is rarely known outside of Finland. Brenna said he relied on visiting Swedish and Finnish friends to help him with his pronunciation.
According to Sell, the majority of singers participating in the competition do not know the language. Materials are offered to them to help them sing in Finnish.
"We're really pleased with our three winners," Sell said. "I'm glad (Brenna) has done such a good job. He will represent himself and the society very well."
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 1993, Brenna received a master's degree from Boston University and a post-graduate certificate from BU's Opera Institute. Brenna said he had taken some time off from singing but is interested in getting back to auditioning and performing.
"9-11 gave me the incentive to repursue my passion after having taken time off," Brenna said. "I'll be making my 'European debut' as a concert singer and I'm absolutely thrilled. Kilpinen's music is a wonderful musical find, so I'll be singing a lovely group of his Finnish songs in the recitals."
Brenna is currently studying with a singer from the metropolitan opera and will be making a demo to send to agents and recording companies. He also will be auditioning for an emerging Wagner Singer program in Washington, D.C., and will be trying to find a young artist apprentice program for next year.
YKSNA was founded in April 1999 after the completion of its first Kilpinen Art Song Competition and Symposium at Edgewood College. It is a non-profit, cultural, artistic and educational organization that honors Kilpinen's memory.
Sell said YKSNA's goals are to promote the singing of Kilpinen's work, whereas their sister organization in Finland, the Kilpinen Society of Helsinki, does more research on the composer.
The Yrjö Kilpinen Art Song Competition is held every three years. YKSNA plans to meet this summer to plan the spring 2005 competition.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 17, 2002