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Winner of the 2018 Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award is: Baritone Paul Grant

After an exciting and challenging competition among Royal Academny of Music musicians who entered to win the 2018 Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award, we can now reveal the winner.

Baritone Paul Grant is the winner after singing pieces by Leoncavallo, Lowewe, Herbert, Mendelssohn and Tosti.

Paul Grant was born in Edinburgh and is studying with Glenville Hargreaves and Jonathan Papp at the Royal Academy of Music where he is a member of its Academy Song Circle as well as a soloist for the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata Series.

Performance highlights for him include a gala concert at Victoria Hall in Geneva, recitals at the Queen's Gallery within Buckingham Palace, participation at the Oxford Lieder Festival, a masterclass with Simon Keenlyside, attending the George Solti Accademia di Bel Canto and covering the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni for the British Youth Opera.

The Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award for 2018 is not his only win. Other awards include the Carr-Gregory Scholarship, Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Robertson Scholarship Trust, Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust and Josephine Baker Trust.

Paul recently completed a Master of Arts MA (Arts) Performance (Voice) at the academy.

Two other awards were revealed during the prize giving. The winner of the 2016 Brenda Webb Piano Award was

Shiori Hosoda, who received a cheque for £3,500 and Baritone Darwin Parkash, who received a runners' up prize check of £5,000.

"Paul was a fine winner of the Richard Lewis first prize. He had not only a lovely baritone voice, but that necessary quality, personality," says Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, founder of the Richards Lewis/Jean Shanks Trust.

"His progtramme was well chosen, with highlights such as the "Il Puo? Signore" from I Pagliacci.. then the contrast of "It is enough" from Mendelssohn's Elijah. The judges felt sure that Paul would make a fine career.

"The second winner was a delightful Indian baritone, Darwin Prakash. Completely different from Paul. A light very beautiful singer, who chose a programme that showed off his voice, such as Handel, Schubert, Donizetti.

"These two baritones show the quality of the teaching at The Royal Academy of Music without a doubt."

During the competition it was also announced that Mark Wildman is step down as chairman of the competition judges, a role he has held for 16 years. He is to be replaced by Kate Paterson (pictured), its newly-appointed Head of Vocal Studies.

"Over these years the world of singing has changed," says Elilzabeth Muir-Lewis. "Standards have continued getting higher and competition has become greater.

"As always in life, luck plays a big part in whether you succeed or not, but when I see and hear how hard these singers have worked, and how much their teachers have helped them, that luck if you get it, is consolidated."

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