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Finalists for 2014 Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award are chosen

Last week the prelimanry auditions took place in The Royal Academy of Music, London to choose the finalists in the Richard Lewis /Jean Shanks competition, which is now in its 14th year.

The adjudicators were Mark Wildman (Head of vocal) Ingrid Surgenor (Accompanists prize adjudicator) and Elizabeth Muir-Lewis (Richard Lewis Trustee).

There are always a great number of talented singers to listen to each year, but this year there was a problem... there were so many good singers that it was a pleasurable debate about how many to include in the final decision.

In the end ten were chosen, and to be able to fit in so many, Mark Wildman suggested that instead of twentyfive minutes for each singers programme, it could be cut down to fifteen.

Of course, to a vocal expert, five minutes can often tell you if a particular singer has that identifiable something that sets her or him apart. So in a programme that is a mix of song and opera and oratorio, it will sort out the ones who perform the best.

The end choice was a mix of sopranos (4) mezzo sopranos (2) a tenor, baritones/basses (3).

Also, the adjudicators for the final on February 26th (2-6pm) will be Mark Wildman, Ingrid Surgenor, Elizabeth Muir-Lewis , John Shirley Quirk, and Dame Josephine Barstow.

John Shirley-Quirk was a close colleague of Richard Lewis and they are featured in many recordings together.

As usual, a bus load of some 70 supporters of this prestigious award will arrive from the award's home town, Eastbourne including some who have come to every final for tweleve of the fourteen years.

Each year more people come to fill the lovely Duke's Hall. It is an event that talent spotters come to to find singers for the future. Looking at winners from the past years, you see an impressive list of singers now enjoying international careers, proving that what was a competition to remember a great singer, has become a pathway for a young singer to begin climbing that difficult career ladder.

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