The winner of the £15,000 Richard Lewis Award for 2016 was announced last night at the Royal Academy of Music's Duke Hall following three days of auditions.
Winner Richard Walshe was educated at King's School, Gloucester before being awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in 2010, from which he graduated 2014 with first class honours. This year he completed he Master's degree with distinction and is now continuing his studies at the Royal Academy Opera.
His programme for the final include Se vuol ballare from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Lord God of Abraham from
Mendelssohn's Elijah, Schubert's Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, Liszt's Uber allen Gipfein ist Ruh,Jacques Ibert's Chanson a Dulcinee from Chansons de Don Quichotte and finally It was a lover and his lass from Gerland Finzi's Let us garland's bring. Richard's accompanist on the day was Kevel Shah.
"The judges felt that Richard deserved the prize because his singing was so consistent and his programme well put together," says Elizabeth Muir-Lewis. "His is a particularly beautiful bass baritone."
The other contestants in the programme (pictured below, with the pianists) were bass-baritone Michael Mofidian, tenor Wagner Moreira, mezzo-soprano Olivia Warburton, baritone Alex Otterburn, tenor Hiroshi Amako, baritone Nicholas Mogg, mezzo-soprano Emma Stannard.
The winner of the 2016 Brenda Webb Piano Award was also announced by David Syrus. The winner of the £3,500 prize was Frenchman Johan Barnoin, who accompanied Oliva Warburton during the finals.
The Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Trust would also like to thank the judges who so generously gave up three days of their time and provided their expertise as singers and musicians for the Richard Lewis Award. This year these were Mark Wildman, Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, Anne Howells, Bob Porter and David Syrus.
"It gives me a deep sense of pride that we keep seeing the names of the winners over the years appearing in the great opera houses and concert halls of the world," says Elizabeth Muir Lewis.
"But what stands out for me so much is what happens here in this building - the teaching, which is so superb, and also perhaps as importantly, the pastoral care students receive here.
"And of course none of this would have happened had it not been for Dr Jean Shanks, the eminent pathologist, who I was fortunate enough to meet in 2000 and whose money has enabled the Trust to help so many singers get on to that ladder to a career.
"Lastly, I would to thank my friends and supporters from my home town of Eastbourne, many of whom have travelled up to London each year since 2001 to attend these finals."