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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 again pleased to announce a collaboration with The Grange Festival, whereby the First Prize winner will have the chance of joining the 2024 Grange Festival chorus, as well as being invited to perform with HCO. Previous prizewinners have performed 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 to sing in the 2024 The Grange Festival chorus*

  • Roger Higgins Second Prize
    - £1000

  • Rosalind Armstrong Prize
    - £750

  • Sarah Harrison 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

Michael Chance CBE, Artistic Director and CEO, The Grange Festival (Chair)

Judith Howarth, International Soprano 

Scott Cooper, Director of Artistic Administration, The Grange Festival

Preliminary auditions

Philip Curran, composer

Joy Robinson, mezzo-soprano and HCO opera director

Information for candidates

Preliminary auditions 

Singers should submit a link to YouTube video files by midnight on Thursday 19 October 2023. 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 material must be sung from memory, i.e. without reference to vocal scores.

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

Semi-final and final

The semi-final and final will be held live before the judges on Sunday 19 November 2023, 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 19 October 2023.​


  • The competition is open to singers of any nationality who, on or before 19 October 2023, 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 year 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 19 October 2023. 

  • The deadline for email receipt of applications is midnight on 19 October 2023 along with payment of a £20 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 19 November 2023.

  • 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 sung from memory, 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).



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

             a) one aria from opera or oratorio and

             b) two songs, each in a different language.



        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 (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 :

  • a high-resolution head-shot for inclusion in the concert programme

  • 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

  • a fee of £20 for the official accompanist.

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