Rhinegold Photo credit: Benjamin Ealovega

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Julien Van Mellaerts wins Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation Song Competition

12:02, 8th September 2017

The winners of the 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition have been announced.

This year’s competition took place 2-7 September at Wigmore Hall, and saw 23 duos from 15 countries compete for the top prizes.

The first prize, worth £10,000, went to baritone Julien Van Mellaerts. The 29-year-old New Zealander has just graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School, where he was Fishmongers’ Company Scholar studying with Russell Smythe.

Van Mellaerts won first place in the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall. This summer he has performed in Salome with Charles Dutoit, and worked with Thomas Quasthoff and Thomas Hampson on the Lieder course at Verbier Festival. He is currently touring with Diva Opera, playing the role of Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

Baritone John Brancy won second prize and baritone Josh Quinn took third prize.

The £5,000 pianist’s prize went to Ian Tindale, who had partnered soprano Harriet Burns in earlier rounds. The Jean Meikle duo prize went to British pair soprano Gemma Summerfield and pianist Sebastian Wybrew; and the Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder went to American mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski.

The prizes were awarded by a jury including Hugh Canning, Bernarda Fink, Christian Gerhaher, David Jackson, Graham Johnson OBE, François Le Roux and Dame Felicity Lott, and chaired by John Gilhooly.

‘Some say that the song recital has had its day but tonight’s final is proof that it is flourishing in Wigmore Street and in music conservatoires around the world,’ Gilhooly said. ‘Every single contestant has something new to offer to the genre and the jury were deeply impressed by all the remarkable duos throughout the Competition.

‘In its 20th anniversary year, the late Sir Ralph Kohn would have been thrilled to have witnessed the calibre of these young artists. We were delighted to share this exceptional music-making widely for the first time with a live stream of the Semi-Finals and Final and many congratulations to a worthy winner.’

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