A national competition for young singers and their pianists

The final of the competition was held in Taunton on Sunday 19th May 2019. Heats took place in London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester during the spring. The winning singer received a cash prize of £1000 and, decided separately, the winning pianist also received a cash prize of £1000. There were other cash prizes too. The judges for the Final were pianist Simon Lepper, Stephan Loges, baritone, and soprano and competition Patron, Elizabeth Watts. It’s #allabouttheduo

The Somerset Song Prize is a biennial national singing competition for young people aged 18 to 26. The competition is organised through a series of regional rounds followed by semi-finals and a final over one weekend in Taunton.

The Somerset Song Prize is a competition for art song and it places a special importance on the collaborative relationship between the singer and their pianist. Arias from oratorios and operas are not permitted. The definition of art song is reasonably wide although competitors must include in their programme a song which is not in their native language. The Art of the Collaborative Pianist.

The 2019 competition has received financial support from Somerset Opera, the Ronald Tickner Educational Trust, the Amici Choir and private donations. The SSP is immensely grateful to these organisations and individuals for their support.

The Somerset Song Prize was inaugurated in 2013 under the aegis of the Taunton Festival of the Arts. The competition has quickly developed an excellent reputation in part due to some great adjudicators - including Iain Burnside, Elizabeth Watts, Jonathan Lemalu, Neal Davies, Joan Rogers, Lorna Anderson, Roger Vingnoles and Malcolm Martineau. The soprano Elizabeth Watts and the pianist Roger Vignoles are the competition’s Patrons.

To contact the competition organisers e-mail info@somersetsongprize.org.uk

What People Think…

Lucy Colquhoun (https://lucycolquhoun.info/) pianist & winner of the SSP pianist prize 2015 comments: “The SSP is a hugely fond memory out of all the competitions I have participated in. The encouragement from winning such a thing was for me a huge thing at the time and something I am extremely grateful for. The competition places a considerable emphasis on the concept of the duo which I think is largely underestimated by other outfits of a similar nature. People still do not realise the full importance of partnership in these situations and it is something that I strongly believe can make or break a singer, performance and even career. It is wonderful to nurture this for both singers and pianists right at the beginning.  The SSP also plays a valuable role in bringing song and classical music to the local area, Taunton and hopefully beyond. It seems a wonderful thing that the local community is heavily involved in which I believe is what making music is all about. It brings people together.”

Hugo Herman-Wilson (https://www.hugohermanwilson.com/) baritone and winner of the SSP audience prize 2017 comments: "The SSP was the first singing competition I entered as a young postgraduate. I was treated incredibly well by the organisers, staying in beautiful surroundings creating a comforting environment in which to prepare for the competition. Winning the Audience Prize in this competition gave me confidence which I have translated to my ongoing singing career and also lead to other engagements in Somerset. My career would definitely be in a less fortunate place if it weren't for the opportunities the SSP gave me at a pivotal stage of my career.”

Penny Adie MBE, Artistic Director of the Two Moors Festival attended the SSP final in 2019 and commented as follows: “What you have set up with the Somerset Song Prize is really very special and I am quite sure it will grow into an award that will be recognised not only nationally, but internationally.”

Somerset Song Prize 2019

First Prize - James Atkinson with Hamish Brown

Second Prize - Joël Terrin with Matthew Gemmill
Audience Prize - James Atkinson and Hamish Brown
Most Promising Young Singer Prize - Michael Temporal Darell with Francesca Lauri Menta
Pianist Prize - Hamish Brown

Other Finalists
Bernadette Johns with Hamish Brown
Poppy Shotts and Lucy Colquhoun
Eline Vandeheede and Ingrid Chan
Natasha Page and George Ireland

Semi-finalists 2019

Previous winners

SSP Winners 2019