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Richard Tauber Prize for Singers 2010

The Prizewinners:
JUNG SOO YUN : First Prize - a 30 year old South Korean tenor, currently at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice.
DENISE BECK : Second Prize – a 28 year old Danish soprano, currently studying at the Universität für Musik in Vienna
LESLIE DAVIS: Adèle Leigh Memorial Prize - a 29 year old Canadian mezzo soprano, currently at the Royal Academy of Music Opera School
Joseph Middleton: Accompanists prize

Jury: Dame Anne Evans, Lillian Watson, Steven Naylor, David Syrus, Nigel Douglas, Franz Lukasovsky and Bernard Keeffe (Chairman)

Wigmore Hall, 4 June 2010

Musical performance competitions are fascinating and often frustrating. Knowledgeable audiences, whilst adjudicators deliberate, form their own opinions of the candidates they have heard and watched. Rarely do those coincide with the decisions of the experts, many of whom are likely to be venerable teachers and to have been performers in the past. Some competitions award an Audience Prize; not so the Richard Tauber Prize for Singers.

The most extreme demonstration of audience voice we have encountered was at Rhodes, where a rebellious audience turned its back upon a German choir, deserving winners who had presented their programme impeccably. The decision in their favour was however met with a cool audience response, and some boos - - clapping and cheering broke out around the Swedish Korallerna at the back of the hall and for their director Eva Bohlin (a highly regarded conductor of eight choirs) and this quickly spread to the whole audience, which pointedly turned its collective back to the stage and joined in a prolonged ovation, thereby awarding its own unofficial audience prize. - -

Whilst awaiting the verdicts at Richard Tauber Prize 2010, we talked as usual and exchanged short lists. One singer, who had been generally well liked, but got nowhere, opined that "loud often wins competitions"! She was not into "loud", but attuned her singing to the intimacy of Wigmore Hall ! OF two excessively loud singers, one carried off the first prize, to general disbelief...

Two of my marked favourites got into the prize list; several others of the 153 entrants surprised us as having been selected as finalists. Middleton is a distinguished accompanist, well known on the London scene, but we would have awarded the palm to Istvan Bonyhadi, and indeed had expected two of his singer partners to be amongst the prizewinners; one of them didn't feature at all, but maybe doesn't need to worry because he's already a member of Zurich opera...

It had been an interesting afternoon - rather short, because each candidate was allotted only two items. We will keep a watch out for some of these singers as their careers develop.

The organisers, and next year's new Chairman of the Jury, should be encouraged to have an Audience Prize in future years and even to consider a feedback link on their website to invite responses from those who were there; we are now well into the age of blogs and twitters, with everyone publishing their opinions - no longer can majority decisions by juries expect unquestioning acceptance...

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Reader's Comment re Richard Tauber Prize 2005