Vocal Awards 2019
uniquely rewarding potential, as well as achievement
- Key Information
- Approved Images
a. Judging Panel – Sir John Tomlinson
b. Judging Panel – Emma Bell
c. Judging Panel – Michael Dussek
d. Judging Panel – Saffron van Zwanenberg (Chair)
- Winners 2018
- Vocal Awards Copy
- Previous Awards
- About Jackdaws Copy
- Contact Details
Recognising potential, as well as achievement, the annual Maureen Lehane Vocal Award has become the first stop for discovering future operatic and song talent. Since the first presentation in 1993, previous winners have gone on to be recognised internationally, win other major prizes, and have long, successful careers on the World’s biggest stages. Past Winners include Ben Johnson, Dawid Kimberg, Amanda Echalaz, Christopher Maltman, and more recently Julien van Mellaerts, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Patrick Terry, Nardus Williams and Raphaela Papadakis.
The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards is a competition for young singers between the ages of 22 and 30, presenting a 20 minute programme of four pieces, with two set composers – Peter Wishart and G.F. Handel – with a final in the prestigious Wigmore Hall. These two composers held a special significance for Maureen Lehane; as a mezzo-soprano, Maureen made her name singing the opera and oratorios of Handel, and she founded the Awards in honour of her late husband, composer Peter Wishart.
The 2019 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are supported by the Rosemary Bugden Charitable Trust, the Oldham Foundation, Cooper Hall Emerging Artists and Margaret & Geoffrey Batten. The Audience Prize is supported by Jackdaws Trustees.
1st Place – £2,000
2nd Place – £1,000
3rd Place – £500
Accompanist Prize – £1,000
Audience Prize – £250
Final – Thursday 14 November
1-4pm at The Wigmore Hall, London
Sir John Tomlinson
Saffron van Zwanenberg (Chair)
Jeremy Kleeman, Bass-Baritone
Accompanied by Hamish Brown
Natasha Page, Soprano
Accompanied by George Ireland
Maria Hegele, Mezzo-Soprano
Accompanied by Lucy Colquhoun
Harriet Burns, Soprano
Accompanied by Krystal Tunnicliffe
Rebecca Leggett, Mezzo-Soprano
Accompanied by Ella O’Neill
Alexander Aldren, Tenor
Accompanied by George Fradley
Annabel Kennedy, Mezzo-Soprano
Accompanied by Ana Manastireanu
Caroline Taylor, Soprano
Accompanied by Guy Murgatroyd
Sir John Tomlinson was born in Accrington, read civil engineering at Manchester University and studied singing at the Royal Northern College of Music. He made his Bayreuth Festival debut in 1988 as Wotan (Der Ring des Nibelungen) under Daniel Barenboim and went on to sing there every summer from 1989 to 2006.
He has sung for the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Deutsche Oper and Staatsoper, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Geneva and Paris, the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Munich and Glyndebourne festivals. He has sung regularly with the English National Opera since 1974 and with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, since 1977 and has also appeared with all the other leading British opera companies.
His repertoiry has included Boris Godunov, Bluebeard, Baron Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier), Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande), Claggart (Billy Budd), Philip II and the Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlo), Méphistophélès (Faust), the four villains (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), the title role of Ivan Susanin, Jacopo Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Tommaso Becket (Assassinio nella cattedrale), Brosi Ismailov and Moses (Moses und Aron).
Engagements in 2019 include Priesterkönig in Jörg Widmann’s BABYLON for Berlin Staatsoper, Varlaam BORIS GODUNOV for Royal Opera Covent Garden, Tiresias OEDIPE for Salzburg Festival and title role THE MIKADO for English National Opera. Future performances include Metropolitan Opera, New York, Prague National Opera, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
A former winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award, soprano Emma Bell has in recent seasons developed her repertoire, moving from the Mozart heroines, with which she established her career, to the key jugendlich-dramatisch roles of Wagner and Beethoven. Recent highlights include her house debut at Bayerische Staatsoper as Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) under Kirill Petrenko, performances as Freia (Das Rheingold) with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder, as Madame Lidoine (Dialogues des Carmélites) at Staatsoper Hamburg under Kent Nagano and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under Sir Antonio Pappano.
An engaging concert performer, Emma Bell has enjoyed a close collaboration with Sir Antonio Pappano on works such as Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and both Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In repertoire including the core works of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and Wesendonck Lieder, Bell has appeared with the Gothenburg Symphony (Nagano), the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Vladimir Jurowski), and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (Gianandrea Noseda).
Appearances this season include a new production of Fidelio at the Glyndebourne Festival (Robin Ticciati), Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) at Theater Basel (Kristiina Poska) and Britten’s War Requiem with Orchestre de Paris at the Edinburgh International Festival (Daniel Harding).
Judging Panel – Michael Dussek
For more than thirty years Michael has performed in the world’s major concert halls with internationally acclaimed artists such as violinists Cho-Liang Ling, Anne Akiko Meyers, AntjeWeithaas and Xue Wei, cellist Ofra Harnoy, and singers Bernada Fink, Christoher Maltman, Ian Partridge and Vassily Savenjo. He has been privileged to collaborate with many of Britain’s leading instrumentalists and chamber musicians, and gave the opening concerts at Kings Place in 2008.
Michael’s discography is extensive and includes 23 CDs in Dutton Epoch’s highly acclaimed series of recordings of 20th century British composers. These include recordings of York Bowen’s first three Piano Concertos with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Vernon Handley, which are included in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 1,000 Finest Classical Recordings.
The first concerto was also selected for Fanfare Magazine’s illustrious Hall of Fame. His recording of Rubbra’s Violin Sonatas with Krysia Osotowicz was nominated for a Gromphone Award and his CD of piano music by Clifford Benson is played regularly on radio stations around the world. He recently recorded his fourth Deutsche Grammophon CD with Ryu Goto. Their 2006 Suntory Hall Recital, including sonatas by Strauss and Brahms, also recorded on DVd, has received particular acclaim.
Michael Dussek is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, where he is also Senior Tutor in Ensemble Piano.
Saffron has been Artistic Director at Jackdaws since 2009. She trained at the RCM and is an ARCM, graduating from the Opera Course with Distinction. She then won a prestigious RCM Junior Fellowship sponsored by the Rosemary Bugden Foundation and has worked as a singer for many companies including Garsington, the London Handel society and the Aldeburgh Festival. At the same time she maintains a successful directing career and has directed shows for Garden Opera at the RCM and the RAM, a show at the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn as well as very diverse projects for Mid Wales Opera and ENO Baylis, and of course for Jackdaws.
2018 Winner – James Atkinson, Baritone
James Atkinson is a baritone currently studying at the Royal College of Music Opera Studio with Alison Wells, supported by a Pidem Scholarship, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Tillett Trust, an Alfred Alexander Award, and the Josephine Baker Trust.
With the RCM Opera Studio, James has sung the roles of Sam (Trouble in Tahiti), Le Gendarme (Les mamelles de Tirésias), Blazes (The Lighthouse), and Le Fleuve (Les fêtes d’Hébé) – in collaboration with l’Académie de l’Opéra national de Paris. Other roles include Lysander (The Enchanted Island) with British Youth Opera, Papageno (Die Zauberflöte) with Hurn Court Opera, and cover Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas) with English Touring Opera. In opera scenes James has performed as Figaro (Barber of Seville), Belcore (L’elisir d’amore) and Sid (Albert Herring).
Other performances include the solos in Fauré Requiem with the RCM Symphony Orchestra under Jac van Steen, a recital of English song at The Red House Library, Aldeburgh, a showcase recital at the Oxford Lieder Festival, an opera gala at Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, RCM masterclasses with Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Emma Kirkby, and Roderick Williams, and a Wigmore Hall masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff. James won 1st prize at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2018, 1st prize and the Audience Prize at the Somerset Song Prize 2019, the Schubert Prize at the Mozart Competition 2019, and was a semi-finalist at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2019.
James Atkinson, Baritone
Charlotte Bowden, Soprano
Verity Wingate, Soprano
Charlotte Bowden, Soprano
Visit the Maureen Lehane Past Winners Archive for the full history of the Awards.
5. Vocal Awards History – 248 words
On 30 October 1992, in the village hall of Great Elm, about 10 miles south of Bath, a young Mezzo-soprano called Jane Haughton collected the first prize of the first Vocal Award, following two days of performances from 27 young singers across the South West.
This Award was the idea of Maureen Lehane, and followed from her success in creating the Great Elm Music Festival. As with the festival, the Awards were a way of commemorating her late husband, composer Peter Wishart, who had passed away in 1984.
Maureen’s dream was for a bi-ennial presentation, so the second competition was held in 1994, but with the great demand for, and success of, the Awards, they have been staged every year since. Called at various times the Great Elm Award, the Jackdaws Vocal Awards, they have now settled, since their founder passed away in 2011, as the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
The requirements have not changed since 1992. Young singers, between the ages of 22 and 30, must present two items of set repertoire; a song by Peter Wishart, and an aria by Handel, of whose music Maureen Lehane was a renowned interpreter.
The Awards remain unique in the field for recognising potential as well as achievement, and are organised by Jackdaws Music Education Trust. The 2019 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are supported by The Rosemary Budgen Charitable Trust, The Oldham Foundation, Cooper Hall Emerging Artists, and Geoffrey & Margaret Batten. The Audience Prize is supported by Jackdaws Trustees.
Previous awards have been covered by, among others, BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, the Singer Magazine as well as BBC Radio Somerset and The Somerset Standard.
The Jackdaws website contains a comprehensive list of every winner at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
7. About Jackdaws Copy (165 words)
Jackdaws Music Education Trust is based in Great Elm just outside Frome in Somerset, in an idyllic setting on the banks of the Mells Water.
Jackdaws is dedicated to improving and extending participation in and enjoyment of music. Throughout the year Jackdaws runs a programme of weekend music courses for instrumentalists and singers of all abilities, taught by tutors of the highest calibre.
We promote classical music and musicians, and run a Young Artists programme featuring an annual opera and the prestigious Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
We also have a large youth and community programme which in the 2017-18 year saw three large-scale projects make over 6,000 musical engagements with Somerset and Wiltshire school children – “Song Story”, “The Year of…” and “OperaPLUS”. The last two of these have won the Music Teacher Magazine Award for Best Classical Music Education Initiative in 2017 and 2016 respectively. The 2019 season looks set to be our largest programme yet.
“Winning the competition boosted my confidence enormously especially as the standard of singing throughout the rounds had been so high. It allowed me to audition with a strong degree of self-belief, which had an immediate impact on my early career. The panel were hugely encouraging and their constructive comments stay with me to this day.” Mary Nelson, Winner 1995 and on the Adjudication Panel 2017.
“The first time I sang on stage at the Wigmore Hall was in the finals of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards. It was an absolutely incredible experience and one I am so grateful for.” Julien van Mellaerts, Winner 2015
“Winning the Maureen Lehane Vocal Award was not only a huge confidence boost, but it also enabled me to travel to study with renowned teachers and coaches in both London and New York. The experience I have gained, because of this competition, has been invaluable. Thank you.” Nardus Williams, Winner 2016
“My passion for singing has not been short-lived and it has long been my dream to become an international opera singer. However, the training to help me to realise this dream is a long, not to mention expensive training. In 2009, I was awarded the 3rd Prize at the Great Elm Vocal Awards and the whole competition has been invaluable to my development as an artist. It is every singer’s dream to sing at such a world-renowned venue as the Wigmore Hall and this competition gave me the rare opportunity at the age of 22; walking out onto the stage of the Wigmore Hall was an experience that I will never forget and will always be one of the highlights of my career. I am currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music on the Master of Arts Preparatory Opera Course and the prize money that I was generously awarded in the competition has helped significantly towards my tuition costs for my masters degree. This profession is a highly challenging and competitive one but I feel that the help of the Jackdaws Vocal Awards and the experience that the competition gave me will allow me to continue to work hard in order to achieve my dream of becoming an international opera singer.”
Hannah Bradbury, Third place in 2010. Now on Young Artist Programme Zurich
“I have fallen in love with Jackdaws – it is a magical place – and with the beautiful surroundings of the countryside there. I hope I will be able to return.” – Lucy Braga, Jackdaws Participant