Winners of the 2023 Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Singers' Awards announced
On Wednesday June 21st 2023 at London’s Royal Academy of Music (RAM) we held the 22nd Singers’ competition, created to remember the great tenor Richard Lewis.
The adjudicators were Mary Bevan, Anthony Legge, Joan Rogers, Kate Patterson, and Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, widow of Richard Lewis.
The standard of the singers was very high, with all the participants as usual, impressive.
How to choose the singer who would have the best chance of an international career? That is the intent behind this prestigious award.
If you look at past winners, the roll-call of success is considerable, reflecting the quality of teaching at the RAM – and in a world where it is so hard to make your mark or having that ‘little bit of luck’, it is wondering to see the RAM sending their student out into the world so well prepared.
So to this year’s winner.
The overall winner was soprano Madison Horman, who won with a varied programme from Frank Bridge to Puccini, Mendelssohn to Mozart - all designed to show off her extraordinary voice.
But it was her rendition of "Come Scoglio" from Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart that clinched her win.
This difficult aria, sung after several testing pieces, was delivered with amazing dexterity and accuracy. This singer should make a mark in the world of singing.
Second prize went to baritone Charles Cunliffe. His is a strong, vibrant voice and his adventurous programme showed off his abilities well.
This started with Strauss (Heimliche Aufforderung) then Brahms to Dupac, plus his ‘show-off piece’; Handel's "Why do the nations" from the Messiah, ending with a hilarious "The green Eyed Dragon" of Wolseley, all demonstrating useful and versatile singer he is.
The Song Prize was won by tenor Samuel Stopford.
He took a while to warm up, and only showed us his voice when he sang an aria by Respighi "Nebbie".
Here, his voice opened up, and warmth came through. He is only young and will develop in time. However, he showed his possibilities as a performer, and his programme was a good and varied one.
The Audience Prize was interesting. They chose baritone Johannes Moore.
This was a fine textured baritone, sensitive and with a well-chosen programme.
In particular his singing of Duparc's "Phidyle" where he delivered a lovely legato line.
Also, his rendition of "Lord God of Abraham" from "Elijah," by Mendelssohn was beautifully sung.
And finally… the piano winner.
This Webb Award was created by a great friend of Richard Lewis, (Brenda Webb), it has discovered countless fine accompanist’s over the years.
The first one was Joseph Middleton for instance, now enjoying a distinguished career.
This year was no exception. The winner was Yupeng He. She played alongside four of the singers, showing her commitment and making the difficult music seem easy.
If a pianist can make the piano sound like an orchestra, that is an achievement. This she did.