Who where the winners of the 2022 Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Trust awards?
On July 6th the final of the Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks prize took place at the Royal Academy of Music.
If each year we say the standard gets ever higher, this year proves it. The finalists were, every one of them, potential winners. But of course someone has to chosen.
It was not difficult to agree on the winner, Clara Orif (main picture) who won the first prize of £14.000. Her clear and very beautiful tone, with outstanding agility, particularly in the aria from "Dir Fledermaus" was sung with panache and exciting coloratura.
Yet in an aria from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, she showed she had lovely warm tones as well. Unsurprisingly, she also won the audience prize.
The Second Prize of £6,000 was won by a fine young tenor, Samuel Stopford (pictured below with accompanist George Fradley).
Aged just 23, he will without doubt develop to be outstanding. His programme was ambitious. Bach, Brahms, Donizetti. What stood out was his singing of Duparc's "Phidyle"and an interesting song by Jonothan Dove "From out of Winter" This award is in memory of the great tenor Richard Lewis. I think he would have been pleased.
The song prize of £3.000 was won by the mezzo soprano Angharad Rowlands (pictured, below). Her programme was particularly interesting with an aria from Der Rosenkavalier.
Apart from that she sang only songs... An Ivor Gurney "Thou didst delight my eyes" and Joseph Canteloube's "Chant d'auvergne" She sang with warm and intelligent interpretations.
The accompanist's prize of £3.500 (The Brenda Web prize) was won by Razmic Melkonian. He played for only one of the singers, the bass Hovhannes Karapetyan.
He had some difficult pieces to play, particularly from Vaughan Williams "Songs of Travel" and the catalogue aria from Don Giovanni.
Other pieces tested his abilities, not least Rachmaninov and his song from the "15 romances" , and the Mussorgsky "Song of the Flea". This particular award has, over the years, found outstanding accompanists. Joseph Middleton was the first one, who is now a world class artist.
These young artists are examples of the superb teaching at the Academy, with a high percentage going on to international acclaim. On the adjudicating panel was Mary Bevan, an earlier winner, and now singing all over the world.