With BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011 little over five months away a changing of the guard has taken place within the competition. As you will know, the competition’s Patron, Dame Joan Sutherland, sadly passed away last year. It goes without saying that she has left an enduring impression on the competition both in her role as a jury member, and also as Patron. So how do you replace someone of such stature? With great difficulty, although I guess La Stupenda would gently suggest I’m talking rubbish. And I’m guessing she would also say something along the lines of that we should remember the love she had for the competition, but that life must always move on. And I'm also guessing that she would be correct in saying all of this. And another and - and I guess she would be rather happy as to the identity of her successor.
So to the very welcome news that the competition has a new Patron. Funnily enough she too hails from the Southern Hemisphere – this time from New Zealand. And funnily enough, she is also a soprano, and a Dame – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. I’m assuming I don’t need to add a hyperlink to Wiki for anyone? It goes without saying that if I had been given a choice of who I would have wanted as a new Patron Kiri te Kanawa was a name that would have fallen rather easily from my lips. As well as acting as the competition’s Patron she will also be sitting on the jury where she will join John Fisher (Chair of the Panel), Dennis O’Neill, Håkan Hagegård and Marilyn Horne. The rest of the jury has yet to be named but Fisher, Horne and Hagegård will also sit on the Song Prize jury along with Bengt Forsberg.
Speaking to BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Dame Kiri had this to say:
“It is a thrill and honour to be asked to be Patron and jury member for this year’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition...The event is of great significance to the Opera world, giving young talented singers the opportunity to perform in the beautiful St David’s Hall in Cardiff, where they will be heard on BBC radio as well as viewed by millions on television."
And also this:
"From my own early experiences of studying at the London Opera Centre in what is now the National Opera studio, I understand how essential it is to be given such a unique opportunity as this at the outset of one’s career. There can be no doubt that the 20 singers will have a unique opportunity to be assessed by professionals from the world of music during the week, with each event presenting high standards of singing. It is an occasion which will reveal the finest quality of singers and I am very pleased to be a part of this extraordinary competition.”
Given her long standing commitment to nurturing young talent Dame Kiri's appointment is a reaffirmation of the competition's fundamental aims of encouraging young singers from all over the globe and shining a light on their talents. In short(ish), it's a competition headed by singers for singers.
Full details of the 20 competitors, and the two juries will be released in March. If you're interested, and itching to attend the week long celebration of singing you can download a pdf booking form from the BBC or if you prefer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address and they will send you a brochure / booking form in the post. If online isn't your thing you can write to St. David’s Hall, Cardiff CF10 1AH with your details and they will mail you a brochure / booking form. Remember, all applications are to be made by post only and should arrive at St David's Hall no later than the 4th of February.
Prices range from £50 to £190 and include tickets for all the preliminary orchestral concerts, Song Prize Final and the Main Prize Final - all to be held at St David's Hall. Subscriptions for the Song Prize Recitals preliminary concerts held at the New Theatre Cardiff are £24, while tickets for the Master Classes held at the New Theatre Cardiff, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on the 18th of June are £8.
Telephone, online and in person booking will be available from the 1st of March, although to guarantee your ticket for the final it's a good idea to book a subscription for the week.
So it's a croeso cynnes to Kiri Te Kanawa, and the other jury members!