in collaboration with

Inaugurated in 2018, the HCO Singer of the Year Competition provides an important platform for young vocal talent. This year we are thrilled to announce a collaboration with The Grange Festival. As well as being invited to perform with HCO, the winner of the Nigel Beale Grange Festival First Prize will also be offered a contract in The Grange Festival Chorus in 2023, subject to a sufficient standard being reached.


Selected HCO prizewinners perform in recital and opera with us, and all entrants may be considered for future opportunities. For details of previous competitions, including lists of prizewinners, please click on the year tabs under HCO Competition, above.​


  • Nigel Beale Grange Festival First Prize
    - £2000, plus the offer of a contract with The Grange Festival Chorus in 2023*

  • John Harding Second Prize
    - £1000

  • Rosalind Armstrong Prize
    - £750

  • Roger Higgins Prize
    - £500

  • Anthony Lowrey Audience Prize
    - £500

  • Wendy Blamire Prize**
    - £300

*subject to a sufficient standard being reached

** This discretionary award may be made to a semi-finalist or finalist who, in the opinion of the panel, shows outstanding linguistic and artistic commitment to text in at least two European languages other than English.​


Semi-finals and finals

Preliminary auditions

  • Philip Curran, composer

  • Joy Robinson, mezzo-soprano and HCO producer​

Information for candidates


HCO regards the welfare of all those involved in its activities as a top priority and will carry out the required risk assessments and follow all latest recommended guidelines. Due to challenges surrounding Covid-19, the arrangements described below may have to change, depending on circumstances prevailing. Any changes and further details will be published on the HCO website and communicated to participants as soon as is practicable.


Preliminary auditions 

Singers should submit a link to YouTube video files by midnight on Thursday 20 October 2022. These files will be assessed by the auditioning panel. See details about audition repertoire in the notes below.


​Please submit recordings made within the last six months of two items. To avoid adjudication bias, the recordings should contain no visible reference (e.g. logs or event signage) to another event. The microphone should be at least three metres away and most of the singer’s body should be visible throughout. Live piano accompaniment is preferable, or a recorded piano accompaniment may be used.​ All repertoire must be performed ‘off-copy’. i.e. without reference to vocal scores.

In order to avoid expense and any barriers to competition, entry recordings can be made in any setting, e.g. at home using a mobile phone or iPad, or in a public or educational venue.

Auditions may be submitted by email, supplying a link to YouTube recordings.

  • Please label the recording clearly with your name and voice type

  • Please also send a link to your website, or attach a full biography

Semi-final and final

The semi-final and final will be held live before the judges at Bournemouth University on Sunday 20 November 2022, with singers accompanied by the competition’s official pianist.


Having read the Rules and Repertoire sections below, download your application form as a pdf or as a Word document. Please follow the instructions on the form. 

The deadline for entries, subject to the above, is midnight on Thursday 20 October 2022.​


Copies of the rules may be downloaded here as a pdf or as a Word document.

  • The competition is open to singers of any nationality who, on or before 20 October 2022, have completed at least one year of a continuous higher education course in music at a recognised conservatoire or music school in the UK or Eire, or who are currently on a postgraduate course, or who have completed an equivalent period of continuous study in the UK or Eire with a recognised vocal coach. Candidates must also be currently resident in the UK or Eire.

  • Singers who were finalists (i.e. one of the final four singers) in a previous HCO competition are not eligible to apply again. 

  • All singers must be between 20 and 29 years of age on 20 October 2022. 

  • The deadline for email receipt of applications is midnight on 20 October 2022 along with payment of a £10 administration fee. Please attach completed application forms together with links to your YouTube audition recording and your website or biography. The application form must detail the audition repertoire as well as the repertoire to be sung in semi-final and final stages of the competition.

  • The decision of Hurn Court Opera on any question of eligibility shall be final. Hurn Court Opera reserves the right to accept or refuse any application. 

  • Candidates are solely responsible for their travelling and subsistence costs. 

  • For the live semi-final and final rounds, the official accompanist must be used by all candidates. The accompanist fee for the semi-final and final rounds is £20, payable before 20 November 2022.

  • Candidates are reminded that it is illegal to perform from photocopies of published music in copyright. Original or authorised copies must be available for the official pianist. 

  • The decisions of the adjudicating panels are final and not open to discussion or correspondence. The adjudicators reserve the right to withhold any prize should the required standard not be attained. Hurn Court Opera reserves the right to allow any stage of the competition to be recorded, broadcast or televised and be used on the Hurn Court Opera website.

  • 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 programme submitted. If it does not meet the criteria listed below a revised programme will be requested.

  • Arias from opera must be sung in the original key.

  • Arias or songs from musical theatre are not eligible.

  • Song repertoire may be sung in a transposed or original key.

  • All repertoire must be sung in the original language.

  • All repertoire must be performed 'off-copy', i.e. without reference to vocal scores.

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

  • Only one item from the preliminary audition may be repeated, either in the semi-final or in the final (but not both). Otherwise no repertoire may be repeated.

  • First round – recorded audition 

        The programme must not exceed 10 minutes and must comprise two items: 

             a) an aria from opera and

             b) a song written in the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries (excluding musical theatre).

  • Semi-final 

        The programme must not exceed 15 minutes and must include at least:

             a) one aria from opera and

             b) two songs, each in a different language.

  • Final

        The programme must not exceed 20 minutes. It may consist of contrasting repertoire chosen by the finalist provided the programme is balanced and contains at least one operatic aria and one English song (not a translation). The composer need not be English.


If you are selected to sing in the semi-final or final rounds you will be asked to submit for inclusion in the concert programme:

  • a high-resolution head-shot, and

  • English translations for all arias and songs sung in a foreign language.

  • PDF copies of your semi-final and finals repertoire to pass to the pianist for practice purposes.

  • You will also be asked to pay a £20 fee for the official accompanist.