One of the unpredictable challenges for all our 12 semi-finalists in The Grange Festival International Singing Competition on Monday evening was how easy or difficult it might be to sing in the Drawing Room of Merchant Taylors’ Hall, opposite the Bank of England. It’s a classic elegant double height salon, with lined and interlined silk curtains and a deep-pile handwoven carpet. They had to work hard, for sure, to enable their voices to speak and shine against this heavy fabric, but the acoustics are clear and consistent, and all the judges felt it was a fair but revealing performing space.
We heard a huge range of repertoire, even with the “Up to 1830” limit – from Barbara Strozzi, whose 400th anniversary we celebrate this year, to Vincenzo Bellini who composed his celebrated I Capuleti e Montecchi in 1830.
All 12 were convincing, well prepared and rose to the challenge, even within the 10 minute slot. How on earth did we select just 6 for the final ? We asked ourselves these questions, “Would we pay good money to hear this singer”, and “Did he or she move us, not just impress, but move us, touch our hearts ?”
The six talented performers that have made it through are Claire Barnett-Jones, Samantha Clarke, Helen Charlston, Kiandra Howarth, Jaeil Kim and Jerome Knox.
We are all panting to hear how the final six will do on 31st October in the Great Hall at Merchant Taylors’ with the Academy of Ancient Music accompanying them.
There are still tickets available for what I am sure will be an exceptional evening of music, please try and join us.