The final will be held at the Wigmore Hall, Thursday 14 November, 1-4pm. Adjudicated by Sir John Tomlinson, Emma Bell, Michael Dussek and Chaired by Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg.
The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are unique in recognising potential as well as achievement. For over 20 years, the Award has been a springboard on to international careers in opera house and on the concert stage. For a full history of past winners, who include Anna Devin (2008), Dawid Kimberg (2004), Christopher Maltman (1994), Sarah Fox (1996), Amanda Echalaz (2002), Madeleine Pierard (2009) and Julien van Mellaerts (2015), visit the archive.
1st Prize: £2000
Final Round: The Wigmore Hall, 14 November
Singers aged: 22 – 30
Closing date: Friday 18 October
Following two days of auditions, Jackdaws are delighted to present the singers in the final round of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Award 2018.
James Atkinson, Baritone
Accompanied by Hamish Brown
Charlotte Bowden, Soprano
Accompanied by Michael Pandya
Glen Cunningham, Tenor
Accompanied by Lucy Colquhoun
Kamilla Dunstan, Mezzo-Soprano
Accompanied by Joe Howson
Kieron Connor Valentine, Countertenor
Accompanied by Alex Jenkins
Stephanie Wake-Edwards, Mezzo-Soprano
Accompanied by Richard Gowers
Verity Wingate, Soprano
Accompanied by Marina Staneva
Grace-Marie Wyatt, Soprano
Accompanied by Marina de Lucas Garcia
Finalists will compete at the Wigmore Hall from 1pm on Friday 16 November. The judges Amanda Roocroft, Patricia Bardon and Alisdair Hogarth, chaired by Saffron van Zwanenberg, will decide who will be the recipient of the £2,000 first prize. The winner will be announced at 3:45pm.
Each performer will present a 20 minute programme made up of four works; one by each of the two set composers, Handel and Peter Wishart, and two own choice selections.
Tickets for the final are available directly from the Wigmore Hall.
Press and Journalists seeking further information should visit the Maureen Lehane EPK
Following two days of auditions, Jackdaws are delighted to present the singers in the final round of the 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Award.
Kieran Rayner, Baritone (28)
Accompanied by João Araújo (28)
Catriona Hewitson, Soprano (27)
Accompanied by John Cuthbert (30)
Sinéad O’Kelly, Mezzo-Soprano (26)
Accompanied by Florent Mourier (28)
Joel Williams, Tenor (25)
Accompanied by João Araújo (28)
Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Soprano (24)
Accompanied by Michael Pandya (22)
Hamish McLaren, Countertenor (23)
Accompanied by Richard Shaw (Official Accompanist)
Timothy Edlin, Bass-Baritone (24)
Accompanied by João Araújo (28)
Ema Nikolovska, Mezzo-Soprano (24)
Accompanied by Nathan Tinker (28)
Finalists will compete at the Wigmore Hall from 1pm on Friday 10 November. The judges Mary Nelson, Jonathan Lemalu and Christopher Gylnn, chaired by Saffron van Zwanenberg, will decide who will be the recipient of the £2,000 first prize. The winner will be announced at 3:45pm.
Each performer will present a 15 minute programme made up of four works; one by each of the two set composers, Handel and Peter Wishart, and two own choice selections.
Tickets for the final are available directly from the Wigmore Hall.
2017 is the landmark 25th anniversary of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards which, over the years, has become a springboard for many wonderful singers including Christopher Maltman, Madeleine Pierard, Ben Johnson, Dawid Kimberg, Amanda Echalaz, Andrew Kennedy and Sarah Fox. With a first prize of £2,000 and final held in the Wigmore Hall it is a very important event, unique in its celebration of potential as well as achievement.
On Friday 10 November, 8 Finalists will perform a 15 minute recital consisting of a song or aria by each of the two set composers Georg Handel and Peter Wishart, in addition to two of their own choice. Watching from the balcony will be the four judges; past Vocal Award Winner Mary Nelson, Jonathan Lemalu and Christopher Glynn, chaired by Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron von Zwanenberg.
Every year, the Wigmore Hall Final of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards is a highlight of the Jackdaws Young Artists calendar. Tickets are available now from the Wigmore Hall Box Office.
Catch up on the history of the Awards with the full list of past winners in the Maureen Lehane Archive.
Applications are open and will be accepted until Friday 6 October, when entries close at 5pm.
On the 25th of February, Jackdaws Music Education Trust was presented with a prestigious Music Teacher Award for Excellence for the OperaPLUS project, which won the category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative, sponsored by Classic FM.
We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us; all our friends and supporters who took the time to give their backing to the campaign. It is an honour to receive this Award and it is down to your support that we are able to continue to run projects like this.
The award was presented by Classic FM Managing Editor Sam Jackson during a special awards ceremony hosted by Rhingeold Music Education Expo at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Kensington. The category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative was decided by public ballot via the Classic FM website.
The award is recognition of OperaPLUS’ outstanding contribution and achievements since its inaugural project in 2010. Every year since then, it has brought high-quality opera into schools across Somerset, introducing countless children and adults alike to the art form in an accessible and inclusive setting. In 2015 alone the project worked with 14 schools with up to 120 children in each of the five performances across the county.
The project brings together primary school children to perform alongside professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, in full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. For many, it provides a first encounter with a live opera performance.
Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, created the project when she took up post in 2009. It has become a key project in Jackdaws Education output, supporting the organisational aim to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way. Ms van Zwanenberg, who was at the ceremony to collect the award on behalf of the Trust and the OperaPLUS team, said:
“OperaPLUS is so important to me personally. I loved opera as a child, for the tunes, the stories, the epic struggles and the rib aching comedy. I wanted more children from all backgrounds to have access to this unique art form, I knew that if it was presented in an accessible way they would love it too, and they have never let me down. It also provides vital training for aspiring singers in music education, an area too often overlooked, and lets the communities see the opera through the children’s eyes as they perform alongside the professionals, vitally important as well. This Award is wonderful recognition of the work we have been doing and will continue to do through active and innovative opportunities.
“We want to thank everybody who voted for us. As a small organisation, we work extremely hard, with limited resources, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver projects like this. This Award means a huge amount to us – Thank you.”
In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances this April, involving 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team in a range of workshops to prepare their music for the performance, supported with resources including recordings and sheet music of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.
Well, what a year 2015 was. Our Education work expanded our reach across to the far side of Somerset with OperaPLUS and in Year of Percussion with percussionist Joby Burgess, and our Piano courses we were voted second place in the Best Piano Courses in the UK in a survey by piano blog the Cross Eyed Pianist.
The first major project of 2015 was April’s OperaPLUS production of ‘The Stylist of Somerset’ (also known as Rossini’s Barber of Seville). OperaPLUS brings together groups of aspiring young opera singers and primary school children who then work together under the guidance of Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg and Audrey Hyland (Royal Academy) to produce five performances at venues across Somerset. This year, the OperaPLUS project expanded to include over 100 children participating in each performance.
We are delighted that OperaPLUS has been nominated as ‘Best Classical Music Education Initiative’ in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, sponsored by ClassicFM. Please vote for us! (And hurry – voting closes on Friday 22nd January!)
Year of Percussion
June saw the final performance of another of our large scale projects – Year of Percussion – which gave the opportunity to students from a dozen schools to take part in workshops under the leadership of internationally acclaimed percussionist, Joby Burgess. Their work culminated in a concert held at the Cheese & Grain in Frome, in which the children performed en mass together with Joby who introduced the sold out audience to an unusual array of percussion instruments during the show. This was the fourth year this project has run and which has now involved over 6000 children; we are looking forward to 2016, which continues our journey around the orchestra with ‘Year of the Reed’.
Our attempts to involve as many young people as possible in a wide spectrum of music based activities continued in July with the ‘Summer Production’. Children between the ages of 10 and 17 spent a week working with Saffron, Will Carslake (music director) and designer Sarah Lawton in which the children chose to perform Macbeth in combination with music by and based on Mozart with design inspied by the work of contemporary American artist Kiki Smith. This is a largely participant driven event and the performance demonstrated the children’s creative skills in acting, music and the various elements of stage design. The final show took place at Frome’s unique Silk Mill on the Friday.
Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards
Every November our focus moves from the schools of Somerset into London’s Wigmore Hall for the annual Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the highlight of our Young Artist’s calendar. Following preliminary auditions, the final seven singers each sang an aria by Handel, a song by Peter Wishart and a piece of their own choosing for the Wigmore audience. Sadley, Oliver Johnston was forced to withdraw through ill-health on the day before the finals, so his place was taken by the first reserve singer, baritone Julien Mellaerts. Astonishingly, with such a short warning, Julien was able to produce the winning performance and walked away with the £2,000 first prize.
Roll on 2016!
UPDATE [17 December 2015]: Voting is now open! Please visit ClassicFM to vote for OperaPLUS as “Best Music Education Initiative”
Jackdaws OperaPLUS has been nominated in the Music Teacher Magazine Awards for Excellence in the category “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. The award, sponsored by ClassicFM, is recognition of the incredible work this project has done to share high quality opera with children and young people in hard to reach communities across Somerset.
OperaPLUS was the first of many projects created and set up by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg:
“It was borne of many different personal experiences which led to a great desire to bring about a combination of outcomes, namely that children and young people have a positive experience of opera and benefit from the well documented effects of participating in music. Young artists receive training and experience in community and education work, in a supported and career enhancing way and hard to reach communities have access to high quality opera in an accessible and affordable setting. It was also important to me that the operas came from the mainstream repertoire to give context to the varied, everyday use of this repertoire that the children and audiences hear in their daily lives.”
OperaPLUS is a key part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s work to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.
The project brings together primary school children and professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, to perform full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. It is directed by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, with the musical direction of Audrey Hyland, Royal Academy of Music professor and vocal coach. The young, professional cast take the lead roles and the chorus’s and other roles are adapted for performance by the participating children, numbering up to 120 per performance. There are a series of workshops prior to the performances with the cast and director and then the cast and children perform alongside each other in accessible venues in the heart of their communities to large audiences, many of whom are new to opera.
The first OperaPLUS production was The Magic Flute by Mozart in June 2010, with one performance in Frome, Somerset, involving three local schools. Since then, the project has developed year on year so that in 2015, OperaPLUS was able to present the most ambitious production yet. Working with 14 schools from across Somerset, Jackdaws delivered 5 performances of the Stylist of Somerset (Rossini’s Barber of Seville) in different areas throughout this rural country.
The production was featured on BBC Somerset Radio by Ben McGrail, who used OperaPLUS as an opportunity to ask the public what they thought of opera. The result was overwhelmingly positive which is reflected in the way it is received by the children and families who participate.
In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances including 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team to prepare their music for the performance and are supported with a free set of resources including sheet music and recordings of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.
OperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, the Music Hub for Somerset and Arts Council England.
The 2015 presentation of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards was an exciting afternoon of music making. As always, the finalists presented recitals of the highest standard and were commended by the panel for the variety and diversity of their repertoire choices.
First prize went to Julien Van Mellaerts, who impressed the panel with his recital of Del minacciar del vento (Ottone) by Handel, Peter Wishart’s Henry and Mary, A Poison Tree by Britten and Mein sehnen, mein Wähnen by Korngold. It is especially impressive that Julien was a reserve place and only offered the opportunity to perform at 6pm on the evening before the final, when Oliver Johnston fell ill.
“It was an exceptional year for the Vocal Awards, the finalists were all well prepared and offered really interesting programmes. The general standard was very high which made the adjudication challenging, but the panel were clear about which performances had stood out, most notable of which was Julien’s singing of Britten’s evocative A Poison Tree.” Saffron van Zwanenberg, Chair of the Adjudication Panel
2015 is the 23rd anniversary of the Award, which is unique for the recognition of potential as much as achievement and has supported many extraordinary young singers at the start of their careers. This year’s prize winners join a succession of past winners including Amanda Echalaz, Christopher Maltman, Sarah Fox, Andrew Kennedy and Anna Devin.
The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are run annually by Jackdaws Music Education Trust for singers under the age of 30. The first Award was contested in the Somerset village of Great Elm, where Jackdaws is based, and participants were required to present a song by composer Peter Wishart, Maureen Lehane’s late husband, and an aria by Handel. Maureen was a celebrated Handelian singer and maintained that every singer should sing Handel at some point in their development. The same elements are required today in celebration of both Maureen and Peter’s legacy.
The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are generously supported by The Rosemary Bugden Charitable Trust, Cooper Hall (Emerging Artists), Geoffrey and Margaret Batten, Frome Voices and Jackdaws Trustees.
Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2015
Julien Van Mellaerts, Baritone (27)
Grace Durham, Mezzo-Soprano (27)
James Newby, Baritone (22)
Edward Liddall (26) and Natalie Burch (23)
James Newby, Baritone (22)
News may have reached your ears that something exciting is brewing in the Stylist of Somerset’s salon…
It is true. OperaPLUS 2015 will be bigger and better – we are literally going further than ever before by packing our bags and hitting the road for a Grand Tour of Somerset.
The dates are set; the cast of OperaPLUS will return this April to recreate the highly acclaimed 2014 production of Stylist of Somerset on five dates in four locations across the length and breadth of the county.
The Stylist of Somerset is setting up his salon on the following dates:
20th April – Kingsmead, Wiveliscombe
21st April – Kingsmead, Wiveliscombe
23rd April – King Afred’s, Burnham-on-Sea
30th April – Vallis First School, Frome
1st May – King Arthur’s Community School, Wincanton
All performances take place at 5:30pm and tickets will cost £2/£1 concessions.
For tickets contact Jackdaws on 01373 812383 or email@example.com