International Singing Competition 2017

Patron: Dame Felicity Palmer

(formerly the Hampshire National Singing Competition)

10 September (semi-final)
24 September (final)
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Semi-finalists announced!

Soprano                                                            Nationality                      Age
Galina Averina                                              Russian                              28
Axelle Fanyo                                                  French                                28
Laetitia Grimaldi                                         French                                32
Rowan Pierce                                                British                                 27

Mezzo soprano
Katie Coventry                                             British                                 26

Sam Furness                                                   British                                 31
Oliver Johnston                                           British                                 28
Samuel Sakker                                              Australian                         32
Youdae Won                                                  South Korean                  30

Nicholas Mogg                                             British                                 27
Dominic Sedgwick                                     British                                 27

Božidar Smiljanić                                        British                                 28

See our semi-finalists in the tab above.

The Grange Festival is pleased to announce the launch of a major new singing competition, The Grange Festival International Singing Competition.  This continues The Hampshire National Singing Competition, last held in 2013 and widely regarded as a major forum for young talent from around the country.

Musical competitions are seen by many as necessary but unrepresentative in an art form where direct comparison is subjective and direct competition unartistic. However, they can provide a supportive showcase for burgeoning talent and are often the first opportunity a singer has to perform in public in a fully professional context.

The competition will be shaped in such a way as to reflect the artistic vision behind The Grange Festival, whilst being mindful of the needs of the wider musical world of the 21st century. In order to achieve this, some basic tenets are necessary: powerful vocal communication is transformative to a listener; beauty of sound and strength of projection will be points of reference; clarity of intention, flexibility of delivery, comprehensibility, personality and a passion to communicate should also all be considered as fundamental requirements. A great singer encapsulates all these and more. This new competition will encourage judges to focus on all these in their deliberations.

The art of singing is also the craft of singing.  Different periods of music give singers a variety of opportunities and require diverse strengths. Earlier repertoire lays great store in skills of rhetoric, declamation, improvisation and imagination, where later music focusses on legato line, colour and power. To quote the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, “…. music prior to 1800 speaks, while subsequent music paints.”  Competitors at The Grange are invited to consider these notions, and wherever possible delight their listeners with an awareness of them.  Variety of repertoire is therefore encouraged at each stage of the competition.

Singers have one thing available to them which is not available to all other musicians:  words. This competition will be concerned as much with celebration of text as celebration of sound.

It is intended that every competitor reaching the final stage should be considered a winner. Both the semi-finals and finals will be public events on stage at The Grange.  In addition, there will be masterclasses in the week before the finals, thus placing this competition firmly at the heart of the working process of preparing and making music. The award of The Grange Festival contracts, as well as prize money to the three highest placed finalists, also makes this new competition an important and useful showcase for young singers on an international level.

Dame Felicity Palmer says: “A good voice (even a beautiful one) is obviously desirable for a singer. More important, I believe, is what a singer does with the voice given them: how it is used technically and artistically and whether or not he or she seeks to communicate with it. Singing has to be about communication – through voice, text, music, body, heart and soul.”

Semi Finalists Prizes

1st Prize £7,500             2nd Prize £5,000            3rd Prize £2,500
plus the offer of a role in a Grange Festival production

All other finalists

Song Prize £2,500        Audience Prize £2,000

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Prize
(one finalist of BSO’s choice will be offered an engagement with the orchestra)

Waynflete Singers Prize
(up to three competitors will be offered solo parts in Mozart’s C Minor Mass at Winchester Cathedral in 2018)

Accompanist’s Prize £2,000
(awarded to a pianist under the age of 32 from the semi-final round)

See bio

Michael Chance


See bio

Scott Cooper

The Grange Festival

See bio

John Copley

See bio

Heather Duncan

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

See bio

David Gowland

Royal Opera House

See bio

Jonathan Groves

Groves Artists

See bio

Felicity Palmer


See bio

Roger Vignoles

See bio

Peter Robinson

Michael Chance is Artistic Director of The Grange Festival. He has established a worldwide reputation as one of the foremost exponents of the male alto voice in all areas of the classical repertoire. His oratorio and recital performances have included Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, and Wigmore Hall with programmes ranging from Elizabethan lute songs to world premieres commissioned including works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Alexander Goehr, Tan Dun, Anthony Powers, John Tavener, and Elvis Costello .

In opera he has worked at La Scala Milan, Sydney Opera House, New York, Lisbon, Oviedo, Leipzig, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam , ROH, Glyndebourne, and ENO. His appearances include the title roles of Orfeo (Gluck), Rinaldo , Ascanio in Albai, and Solomon, Ottone/ Poppea, Oberon/Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tolomeo/Giulio Cesare. He premiered Birtwistle The Second Mrs Kong (Orpheus) and Weir A night at the Chinese Opera ( Military Governor).

He has an extensive discography, including many Bach and Monteverdi recordings with John Eliot Gardiner and Handel’s Semele for Deutsche Grammophon for which he received a Grammy Award. He was awarded the CBE in 2009.

Scott Cooper studied singing at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he won major Academy prizes including the Jean Highgate Scholarship and the Margaret Dick Award. In 1981 he created the role of King Diarmid in the world premiere of Kenneth Leighton’s opera Columba at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.

After RSAMD, Scott enjoyed a freelance singing career encompassing opera, oratorio and recital. Operatic roles from this period include the Earl of Dunmow A Dinner Engagement, Luka The Bear, Count Almaviva The Marriage of Figaro, Cecil Maria Stuarda and Simone Gianni Schicchi.  For a number of years, he sang Christus in the annual Easter performances of the Bach Passions at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh and was a soloist with all the major Scottish choral societies. He sang with the Scottish Early Music Consort and was a regular member of the John Currie Singers, with whom he sang in Brussels, Milan, Naples, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

In 1987 he joined the chorus of Scottish Opera, going on to become Chorus Manager. At Scottish Opera he was involved in the recordings of Candide (TER and BBC TV), Street Scene and Regina (Decca). He was involved in a project for Pearl/Conifer Records to record the later operas of Sir Arthur Sullivan and can be heard in The Rose of Persia, The Chieftain and Ivanhoe. In 1995 he left Scottish Opera to co-found the Glasgow-based event management company Pitch Perfect, before moving to London in 1998 when he joined Athole Still International Management as Artists Manager. For the next ten years he managed the careers of international opera singers, conductors and directors, as well as sitting on the board of the International Artist Managers’ Association.

In 2008 he became Artistic Administrator at Grange Park Opera. And in 2016 he joined the newly-formed Grange Festival as Director of Artistic Administration.

John Copley first appeared with the Royal Opera at the age of 15 as an actor and later became their Principal Resident Director. He has directed opera throughout the world during a career that spans over 50 years. John has worked with all the great singers and conductors and continues to share his expertise with young singers in his productions for the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music.

Heather Duncan is Head of Concerts and Programming at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a role she has held for 10 years.

An Honours graduate from Manchester University, Heather went on to post-graduate cello studies with Florence Hooton at the Royal Academy of Music, London before working in the UK and Italy.

In her career as an arts manager, Heather worked for Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras for 11 years, working closely on many major international projects including the 6-year Mozart opera project.

Moving to Glasgow to run the virtuoso Scottish Ensemble directed by Clio Gould and latterly Jonathan Morton, this entrepreneurial group was soon appearing at the UK’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals such as the BBC Proms, Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals. In Glasgow, Heather was a member of the Strings Advisory Panel of the then RSAMD and the Caledonian University Arts Development Group.

In recent years Heather has been a jury member of the Royal Philharmonic Awards, YCAT Final Auditions and Hampshire Singing Competition.





David Gowland studied at the Royal College of Music, where he won several prizes for piano accompaniment, and at the National Opera Studio. He joined the Glyndebourne music staff in 1987, won the 1988 Jani Strasser Award, and worked there for 20 years.

He was Head of Music Staff at the Grand Théâtre de Genève 1989-96, assisting conductors such as Tate, Patané, Jordan, Bartoletti, Thielemann, Plasson, Elder, de Waart, Bertini and Campanella.

He has worked as assistant conductor/senior coach with companies including Opéra National de Paris, Dutch National Opera, Royal Danish Opera, Opera di Roma, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Théâtre Capitole de Toulouse, Teatro Real di Madrid and the Festivals of Aix-en-Provence, Chorégies de Orange, Salzburg and Wexford. He was senior coach on The Ring under Jeffrey Tate in Australia.

He has conducted Die Dreigroschenoper for RADA. Concert work has included the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals and the BBC Proms. He is a visiting tutor at the National Opera Studio, British Youth Opera, Scottish Opera Emerging Artists, New National Theatre Tokyo and all the major British conservatoires.

He is a regular jury member for national and international competitions and has given masterclasses in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Caltagirone, Lithuania, Istanbul, Tokyo, Nanjing, Beijing, Seoul, Mexico and Tasmania. He has been associated with the Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House since its inception in 2000, initially as Director of Musical Preparation and from 2006 as Artistic Director, and regularly accompanies the Jette Parker Young Artists in recitals.

Recent collaborations on the concert platform include Nelly Miricioiu at St John’s Smith Square, Eri Nakamura in Tokyo and Osaka and Dušica Bijelić and Haoyin Xue in Nanjing and Beijing.

Jonathan Groves was born in 1952 and received his formative musical training as a chorister at King’s College Cambridge under Sir David Willcocks. He returned to Cambridge as an undergraduate, studying history at Trinity College, and serving as President of the Cambridge University Music Club.

From 1976 to 2016 he was a director of Ingpen & Williams Limited the long-established international artist management company, during which time he represented many of the UK’s leading conductors and singers. Since September 2016 he has been managing director of Groves Artists Limited.

Jonathan Groves was a founding board member of the Young Classical Artists Trust, served for many years as Chair of the Opera Committee of the International Artist Managers’ Association and is a Governor of the Royal Northern College of Music.

Dame Felicity Palmer has had a career spanning some four decades, firstly as a concert soprano and, during the 1980s, as an operatic mezzo-soprano. Her early work included a wide variety of repertoire, from baroque music (with Sir Roger Norrington, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and concerts and recordings with Nikolaus Harnoncourt), to contemporary works with the London Sinfonietta and David Atherton and work with Pierre Boulez, with whom she recorded and toured Messiaen’s Poemes pour Mi with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She met the composer when she later performed the same work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta.

During her soprano years she made a tour of Australia for the ABC and worked, among others, with Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis, Rozhdestvensky (Shostakovich Symphony No.14 and The Trojans at the BBC Proms), Raymond Leppard (recording of Messiah), Sir Charles Mackerras (recording of Judas Maccabaeus for DGG, concert performances and the BBC Proms) as well as concerts with all the major London orchestras, the New York Philharmonic and the LA Philharmonic. Recital work formed a key part of those years: with Geoffrey Parsons, Graham Johnson and the Songmaker’s Almanac, Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake and a great deal with John Constable, who, after a Queen Elizabeth Hall concert early on, played for three French song records for Argo Records and two Victorian ballads.

Becoming a mezzo-soprano led to operatic engagements, which soon included regular appearances at Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House (including Sweeney Todd and

Elektra), her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in Wagner’s Ring Cycle with James Levine and many subsequent appearances; Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in Munich with Zubin Mehta, Dialogues des Carmélites with Riccardo Muti at La Scala and with Michel Plasson in Zurich and Toulouse, as well as work in Amsterdam, Chicago, San Francisco, Paris and English National Opera.

Dame Felicity has recorded Elektra with the WDR Orchestra and Semyon Bychkov and recently, two concerts of the same opera were recorded for the London Symphony Orchestra label with Valery Gergiev at the helm. There is also a recording of Dialogues des Carmélites with ENO and Paul Daniel. Dame Felicity’s recent engagements include Geneviève Pelléas et Mélisande with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Klytemnestra Elektra with Seymon Bychkov at the BBC Proms, a return to ENO for The Countess The Queen of Spades; Mrs Sedley Peter Grimes for Zurich Opera, ENO and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano; Madame de Croissy Dialogues des Carmélites at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Bayerische Staatsoper; and Mrs Peachum The Threepenny Opera with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski.

She was made a CBE in 1993 and a Dame of the British Empire in 2011.

Roger Vignoles is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most distinguished piano accompanists and musicians of today. He regularly partners the finest singers in major venues around the world and is regarded as a leading authority on the song repertoire.

Originally inspired to pursue a career as a piano accompanist by the playing of Gerald Moore, he read Music at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and later joined the Royal Opera House as a repetiteur. He then completed his training with the renowned Viennese-born teacher Paul Hamburger.

Over the course of his distinguished career he has collaborated with such leading singers as Elisabeth Söderström, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Barbara Bonney, Kathleen Battle, Christine Brewer, Brigitte Fassbaender, Bernarda Fink, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Dame Felicity Lott, Mark Padmore, John Mark Ainsley, Roderick Williams, Joan Rodgers, Sarah Walker, Measha Brueggergosman and Kate Royal. He performs extensively at major venues across the world such as the Wigmore Hall, Philharmonie Cologne, Vienna Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, the Royal Concertgebouw, Musee d’Orsay, Carnegie Hall, the Frick Collection in New York, La Scala, Oper Frankfurt, Théatre des Champs-Élysées, Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Bonn Beethovenfest, Baden-Baden Festival and Teatro del Zarzuela in Madrid.

Highlights of the 2016/17 season include recitals with Kate Royal, Johannes Kammler, Thomas Oliemans, Elizabeth Watts, Mark Padmore, Roderick Williams, John Mark Ainsley, Raphaela Papadakis, Dorothea Roschmann, and Alek Shrader. He will also give masterclasses at Aldeburgh Festival, Juilliard, deSingel Antwerp, and more.

Roger Vignoles is frequently invited to devise and direct programmes and festivals of song. He has created several series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, including “Young Brahms”, “Landscape into Song” (a celebration of Schubert) and “Scenes from Schumann”. He presents the annual Ciclo de Lied Galega in Santiago de Compostela. In the 2009/10 season he presented a Strauss song series at the Wigmore Hall.

Roger Vignoles is also an outstanding teacher and has given masterclasses in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Valencia, Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto. He is a regular visitor to the University of Indiana, Bloomington, the Britten-Pears Young Artists’ Programme at Snape and the Stimmen Festival Freistadt in Upper Austria. Roger is Prince Consort Professor of Accompaniment at the Royal College of Music in London, Vice President of the Jackdaws Music Education Trust, and has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Magdalene College, Cambridge honoris causa.

His extensive discography ranges from German Lieder and French Melodies to Spanish Canciones and Cabaret Songs. Vignoles has received much acclaim for his ongoing recording series of Strauss The Complete Songs for Hyperion, with current volumes featuring Christine Brewer, Anne Schwanewilms, Andrew Kennedy, Christopher Maltman, Alastair Miles, Kiera Duffy and Elizabeth Watts. Other recent recordings and forthcoming releases include Schubert Der Wanderer and Carl Loewe Songs & Ballads with Florian Boesch and Tomášek songs with Renata Pokupić, all for Hyperion; Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch with Joan Rodgers and Roderick Williams for Champs Hill; Strauss and Wolf with Angelika Kirchschlager on Wigmore Hall Live; Schumann and Brahms with Bernarda Fink, and Britten Before Life and After with Mark Padmore, both on Harmonia Mundi (the latter received the prestigious Diapason d’Or and Prix Caecilia awards in 2009).

Last season Vignoles led Britten’s Church Parables for Mahogany Opera in performances in St Petersburg and the UK. Other recent highlights include recitals with Elīna Garanča, Clara Mouriz, Matthew Polenzani, Christine Rice, Angelika Kirchschlager, Miah Persson, Anne Schwanewilms, James Gilchrist, Elizabeth Watts, Christoph Prégardien, Christine Brewer, Marita Sølberg and Antoine Tamestit; Poulenc Les Mamelles de Tiresias in Aldeburgh, Aix-en-Provence and Brussels at La Monnaie; concert appearances with the Nash Ensemble and BBC Singers; and various masterclasses both in the UK and abroad.

Peter Robinson was born in the North-East of England and studied music at Oxford‚ where he was Organ Scholar of St. John’s College. He began his operatic career as Chorus Master at Glyndebourne‚ followed by several years as Resident Conductor and Head of Music Staff for Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House. He then joined ENO as Assistant Music Director‚ where his repertoire includes The Mastersingers of Nuremburg‚ Otello‚ Rigoletto‚ Carmen‚ Orfeo‚ Hansel & Gretel‚ The Turn of the Screw‚ and all the major Mozart operas.

Recent and future plans include Mikado at ENO‚ Zazà‚ Fidelio‚ La Wally‚ Falstaff‚ Wolf-Ferrari’s I Gioielli della Madonna and L’amore dei tre re with Opera Holland Park‚ The Rape of Lucretia and The Bartered Bride with British Youth Opera‚ a Triple Bill of La Navarraise‚ Le Portrait de Manon and Comedy on the Bridge at the Guildhall School as well as Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi at the Royal Academy of Music.

He is invited back to Australia regularly as guest conductor for all the major opera companies and symphony orchestras and recent performances have included Aida‚ Lucia di Lammermoor‚ La Fanciulla del West‚ Cosi fan tutte and Romeo & Juliette. He has also appeared in Canada‚ Mexico‚ Hong Kong and Italy and conducted for Scottish Opera‚ Kent Opera and Opera Factory London. For television he has conducted Jonathan Miller’s productions of The Mikado and Cosi fan tutte and‚ for Channel 4‚ The Marriage of Figaro.

In the concert hall‚ he has conducted most of the major British orchestras‚ including the LSO‚ LPO‚ RPO‚ Hallé and BBC Philharmonic‚ and appears regularly in concerts and broadcasts with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

During a long collaboration with Raymond Gubbay and David Freeman‚ Peter Robinson conducted Madam Butterfly‚ Tosca‚ Aida and Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall. In recent seasons he has appeared in concert with the Queensland‚ Royal Philharmonic‚ BBC Concert and Northern Sinfonia Orchestras. Most recent engagements include The Marriage of Figaro for West Australian Opera‚ Madam Butterfly‚ Romeo and Juliet‚ Andrea Chenier‚ La bohéme‚ Turandot and La Traviata with Opera Queensland‚ Die Zauberflöte with Opera Zuid in Holland‚Falstaff at Scottish Opera‚ La Gioconda‚ Un Ballo in Maschera‚ L’amore dei tre re‚ Rigoletto‚ Fidelio‚ Luisa Miller and Andrea Chénier with Opera Holland Park‚ and Madam Butterfly and Carmen Royal Albert Hall.

He teaches and coaches singers regularly at the National Opera Studio‚ the Guildhall School of Music and Drama‚ The Royal Academy and Royal College of Music and at the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera. Peter has had a long association with British Youth Opera‚ for whom he was Artistic Director for 8 years. In this time he has conducted many operas for the company‚ including The Magic Flute‚ Eugene Onegin‚ Roméo et Juliette‚ The Rape of Lucretia‚ La Rondine‚ Albert Herring‚ The Rake’s Progress‚ La Bohème‚ The Bartered Bride and Paul Bunyon. In 2012 he conducted a concert at Cadogan Hall‚ featuring the English Chamber Orchestra and BYO Alumni‚ in a concert celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary.


Monday 10 April 2017
Closing date for applications & designated YouTube or Vimeo submissions.

Tuesday 2 May 2017
Announcement of candidates for the preliminary rounds

Tuesday 4 & Wednesday 5 July 2017
Preliminary Auditions: The Warehouse, Theed Street, London SE1 8ST

Monday 17 July 2017
Announcement of semi-finalists

Sunday 10 September 5 – 8pm
Semi-Final on stage at The Grange with piano (maximum 12 singers) before a public audience: The Grange, Northington, Alresford, Hampshire

Saturday 23 September
2 X 3 hour rehearsals at The Grange with BSO for 6 finalists

Sunday 24 September 3pm
Final at The Grange (with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Robinson) before a public audience: The Grange, Northington, Alresford, Hampshire

  1. The competition is open to singers of any nationality.
  2. All singers must be up to and including age 32 on 24 September 2017.
  3. The decision of The Grange Festival on any question of eligibility shall be final. The Grange Festival reserves the right to accept or refuse any application.
  4. Accompanists will be provided for the preliminary auditions, although candidates may bring their own. For the semi-final candidates must arrange their own accompanist. We can provide a list of recommended pianists if required. A player may be of any nationality or age, but only those reaching the semi-final round of the Competition, and who are aged 32 or under on 24 September 2017, will be eligible to compete for the Accompanist’s prize.
  5. The decision of the Jury is final and not open to discussion or correspondence. The Grange Festival reserves the right to allow any stage of the Competition to be recorded, broadcast or televised and to be used on The Grange Festival website.
  6. Candidates are solely responsible for their travelling and subsistence costs. They are reminded that it is illegal to perform from photocopies of published music in copyright.
  7. The Competition reserves the right, if required by law, to deduct Withholding Tax from any payment made to competitors not resident (for tax purposes) in the UK.

The judges will take into consideration the choice and variety of the programmes submitted.

Any item from the Preliminary Round may be repeated once in a later round, otherwise no repertoire may be repeated.

Arias from opera/oratorio or composed for performance with orchestra must be sung in the original key.

All repertoire must be sung in the original language.

A candidate’s performance through all the rounds of the Competition will be taken into consideration.

Preliminary Round:
The programme should not last more than 10 minutes and should consist of two contrasting pieces from opera, oratorio or song.

The programme should not last more than 10 minutes and should consist of two contrasting pieces, one of which must be a song (Lied, chanson, etc) composed in the 19th, 20th or 21st century. The Song Prize and the Pianist’s Prize will be awarded at the Semi-final stage.

The programme must not exceed 20 minutes and may consist of any repertoire chosen by the finalist, provided it contains at least one piece from each of the following periods:
a) pre-1750
b) 1750-1925
c) 1925-present

If in the opinion of The Grange Festival it does not, a revised programme will be requested.