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We're delighted to announce the winners of the 2019 HCO Singing Competition: 

Nigel Beale First Prize - £1000 

Milly Forrest, soprano 

Rosalind Armstrong Second Prize - £500

Alexander Simpson, counter-tenor 

Roger Higgins Third Prize - £300

Olivia Boen, soprano 

Roger Higgins Fourth Prize - £200

Irene Hoogveld, soprano 

Tony Lowrey Audience Prize - £350

Alexander Simpson, counter-tenor

Wendy Blamire Award* - £300

Milly Forrest, soprano 

*The Wendy Blamire Award is given for outstanding linguistic and artistic commitment to text in at least two European languages other than English. 


Left to right, finalists Olivia Boen, Alexander Simpson, Irene Hoogveld and Milly Forrest 

About the 2019 competition...


Semi-finalists and accompanists, left to right: Milly Forrest, Alexander Simpson, Irene Hoogveld, Konrad Jaromin, Paul Chilvers (official accompanist), Olivia Boen, Clover Kayne, Lucy Anderson, Hamish Brown (accompanying Milly Forrest), Arthur Bruce and Chad Vindin (official accompanist)

Following preliminary rounds in London in May, eight semi-finalists gathered on 7 July at Bournemouth University:

Lucy Anderson, soprano

Olivia Boen, soprano

Arthur Bruce, baritone

Milly Forrest, soprano

Irene Hoogveld, soprano

Konrad Jaromin, bass-baritone

Clover Kayne, mezzo-soprano

Alexander Simpson, counter-tenor​​

Judging the finals day competition were Dr Claire Rutter (Chair), soprano, Roderick Kennedy, Artistic Director, Dorset Opera Festival and Sir Simon Keenlyside, baritone. 


Paul Chilvers, Accompanist and Repetiteur at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and Chad Vindin, Vocal Coach at the Royal Academy of Music and Staff Pianist at the Royal College of Music provided sterling support as official accompanists.

In the semi-finals, held during the morning, the competitors performed 15-minute programmes that included at least one aria, and two songs in different languages. After a break for the judges' deliberations, during which Clara Zhijin Chen, former student and music scholar at Bournemouth University, entertained the audience with a recital of piano music by Mozart and Brahms, the four finalists were announced. From 4.00pm, each singer delivered a fresh 20-minute programme of their choice, including one operatic aria and one English song.


Judges Roderick Kennedy (left), Dr Claire Rutter and Sir Simon Keenlyside deliver their adjudications

Giving their final adjudications, the judges all drew generously on their own experience to explain not only the factors that had governed their choices on the day, but also to offer advice on how the candidates could take their singing and performance further.


Lynton Atkinson, HCO Artistic Director,  commented later 'I was particularly struck this year by the importance of repertoire choice. As the judges said, competition success can be as much about learning competition technique, which includes choosing the right material, as it is about vocal ability and performance. And while we know that competitions can overlook singers who will go on to have truly great careers, winning competitions can certainly help to get a career started.'


Hurn Court Opera is enormously grateful to Nigel Beale, the Armstrong Family Trust, Roger Higgins, Tony Lowrey and Helen Nott for generously providing the prizes for this year’s competition.


And we give sincere thanks to Ian Davis and Bournemouth University for letting us use the University's wonderful facilities for the 2019 finals, and to Clara Zhijin Chen for her beautiful piano recital.

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