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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. It also provides a key to future performance opportunities with Hurn Court Opera and potentially, for the winner, with our colleagues at The Grange Festival in Hampshire. Details of previous competitions, including lists of prizewinners, can be found by clicking on the relevant year tabs above.


  • Nigel Beale Grange Festival First Prize - £2000 plus the offer of a contract with The Grange Festival Chorus in 2025*

  • Roger Higgins Second Prize - £1500

  • Rosalind Armstrong Prize - £750

  • Sarah Harrison Prize - £500

  • Anthony Lowrey Audience Prize - £500

  • Wendy Blamire Award** £300


* subject to a sufficient standard having been 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

Dame Sarah Connolly DBE, international mezzo-soprano (Chair)

Michael Chance CBE, Artistic Director, The Grange Festival

James Black, Director, James Black Management​

Preliminary rounds

Philip Curran, composer

Joy Robinson, mezzo-soprano and director of opera for HCO


Preliminary auditions


Singers should submit links to YouTube video files by midnight on Wednesday 2 October 2024. These 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. logos, 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 iPad, or in a public or education venue.

Semi-final and final

The semi-final and final will be held live before the judges and a public audience on Saturday 2 November 2024 at Harvey Hall, St Swithun's School, Winchester SO21 1HA, with singers accompanied by the competition’s official pianist.


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


The deadline for entries is midnight on Wednesday 2 October 2024 along with payment of a £20 administration fee.

Competition rules

  • The competition is open to singers of any nationality who, on or before 2 October 2024, 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 are currently on a postgraduate course, or who have completed the equivalent year of continuous study in the UK or Eire with a recognised vocal coach; they 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 2 October 2024.

  • The deadline for email receipt of applications is midnight on 2 October 2024 along with payment of a £20 administration fee.​ Please attach completed application forms and 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. Accompaniment fee for the semi-final and final rounds is £20, payable before 2 November 2024.

  • 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.

  • Songs or arias from musical theatre are not eligible.

  • Song repertoire may be sung in 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: two items, which must consist of a) an aria from opera and b) a song written in the                 19th, 20th or 21st century (excluding musical theatre), totalling no more than 10 minutes in length.

        - Semi-final: the programme must not exceed 12 minutes and must include at least a) one aria from opera or oratorio,                and b) two songs, each in a different language. If time allows you may add another aria or song.

       - 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 two operatic arias, one English song (the composer need not             be English). If time allows you may add further arias or songs.

  • If you are selected to sing in the semi-final or final rounds – you will be asked to submit, by return:

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

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

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

        - confirmation of any dietary requirements, and any medical issues you would like us to be aware of

         - a fee of £20 for the official accompanist.

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