The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society has announced sponsorship of a new BRITISH COMPOSER SONG PRIZE, which will form part of the 2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition.

Competition dates: Saturday 7th – Wednesday 11th September 2019

As part of Wigmore Hall’s longstanding commitment to celebrating the art of lieder and song recital, the week-long biennial International Song Competition has grown in status and prestige to become one of the most significant platforms worldwide for recognising young talent in song recital since it was established in 1997.

British Song Prize will recognise enduring legacy

This year, the Vaughan Williams Society is sponsoring a new prize; for the best interpretation of songs in English written by a British composer, which will form part of the contest.

With an esteemed tradition of finely-crafted song writing from well-known exponents such as Finzi, Gurney, Bridge, Ireland, Britten, Warlock, Quilter, Moeran, Tippett, and Rebecca Clarke as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams, to today’s inheritors of the art form who include Jonathan Dove, Ian Venables, Patrick Hawes and Judith Weir, this discreet yet enduring legacy inspired by the timeless themes of love and war, joy and loss, promises intimate and thought-provoking listening experiences.

Committed to the performance and recording of Vaughan Williams’s music, Vice-Chairman of the Society and Director of Albion Records, John Francis, said: “Songs by British composers often lie neglected on the shelves of college libraries - this new Prize will offer a source of encouragement to young singers, which we are proud to sponsor.”

“Vaughan Williams wrote many original songs, and produced the most beautiful settings of folk songs”, explained Mr. Francis. “Albion Records, the recording subsidiary of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, has been privileged to issue first recordings of many of those songs and settings, on recordings such as ‘Kissing her Hair, ‘The Sky shall be our Roof’, ‘Purer than Pearl’ and, in the coming weeks, ‘The Song of Love’ and ‘Time and Space’ – with artists such as Sarah Fox, Roderick Williams, Kitty Whately, Jennifer Johnston and Mary Bevan.”

International talent

This year’s shortlist of 25 young singers and pianist duos features an international list of emerging performers aged 33 and under from the UK, Germany, USA, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia and South Korea – all on the verge of embarking on significant international careers.

Workshops and masterclasses

Over a five-day period, the shortlisted duos will compete in front of a distinguished panel of jurors and Wigmore Hall audiences. They will also receive coaching and feedback from some of the foremost international song performers and experts. Between the rounds, leading musical figures such as John Mark Ainsley, Iain Burnside, Graham Johnson and Judith Weir give talks, workshops and masterclasses which are also open to the public.

Past winners include baritone Marcus Farnsworth, tenor Robin Tritschler, and pianist James Baillieu, as well as more recent recipients such as Milan Siljanov and Julien van Mellaerts.

The overall 2019 Competition will be sponsored by Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells, with the Vaughan Williams Society sponsoring the £2,000 Prize for the best interpretation of English Song.

The Semi-Finals (9 September, 3:00pm & 7.30pm) and Final (11 September, 6:00pm) will be streamed live via Wigmore Hall’s website.


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