The organisers of the Somerset Song Prize are delighted to announce that they have received the first of what they hope will be many entries for the next run of this prestigious music competition, in May 2022.
What is the Somerset Song Prize competition? The brainchild of the late great Brian Cresswell and local singer Guy Robinson, this is a biennial event which showcases the best singer/pianist duos between the ages of 18 and 26. It is an ‘art song’ competition, focussing on works composed specifically for voice and piano, and excludes songs from operas, musicals and oratorios. Typical of this art form are the German lieder so wonderfully represented by Schubert, Wolff, Richard Strauss etc but this is only one manifestation of a very rich vein of glorious music.
The emphasis is on the equal partnership of singer and pianist – the word ‘accompanist’ is banned in all the preparations and publicity material! That is why the significant first prizes in the competition are £1,000 for the best singer and £1,000 for the best pianist, who may be from entirely different duos. There are also prizes for the most promising young (under 21) singer and pianist, and an audience prize for a duo chosen by the listeners at the final.
As in the past, entries are being sought from the major UK music colleges – the last run of the competition in 2019 brought over 120 entries, necessitating regional rounds to pick the short list who came to Taunton for the semi-finals and final. The world-renowned international opera and concert soprano Elizabeth Watts is the patron of the competition and we are grateful for her insights during the planning.
So when is all this happening? Thanks to Covid the initial heats will be judged on the basis of performance videos submitted by the entrants. Twelve duos will then be invited to the Taunton semi-final on Saturday 14th May, and six of those will make it through to the final on Sunday 15th May. Both of these events will take place in Temple Methodist Church.
The adjudicators have yet to be finalised, but they will be musicians of the highest calibre in the field, with international reputations. Make no mistake, this is an event of great musical significance bringing prestige to Taunton, and we hope that the venue will be as full as possible (we may still be under some Covid restrictions) for a week-end of world-class music making.
The website www.somersetsongprize.org.uk will be regularly updated as more details of the event become available. Why not consider becoming a Supporter of the competition? You will be helping to support an event which is destined to become one of nationwide and international significance and to ensure the future of great music in Taunton.