Friday 22 October 2021

London Handel Singing Competition 2021

Finalists of the 2021 London Handel Singing Competition: Bethany Horak-Hallett, Hilary Cronin, Kieran Rayner, Felix Kemp (Photo Chris Christodoulou)
Finalists of the 2021 London Handel Singing Competition: Bethany Horak-Hallett, Kieran Rayner, Hilary Cronin, Felix Kemp (Photo Chris Christodoulou)

The 2021 Handel Singing Competition came to a conclusion on Wednesday, with soprano Hilary Cronin winning the First Prize and Audience Price, and mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallett winning the second prize. The other two finalists were baritones Kieran Rayner and Felix Kemp.

All four finalists performed a programme of Handel arias in front of a live audience at St George's Hannover Square, accompanied by the Lawrence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra. Both prize winners receive cash prizes and the competition supports the continuing professional development of all the finalists by offering them guaranteed performance opportunities at the London Handel Festival in the future.

Hilary Cronin sang arias from Rinaldo, Semele and Brockes Passion. We caught Hilary Cronin this Summer as Mother in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with British Youth Opera at Opera Holland Park [see my review] and in 2018 she was Mrs Waters in Spectra Ensemble's enterprising production of Ethel Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate at Grimeborn Festival [see my review].

Bethany Horak-Hallett sang Haec est Regina virginum HWV 235, and arias from Donna che in ciel HWV 233 and Theodora. Bethany Horak-Hallett sang solos in Handel's Dixit Dominus as part of the Monteverdi Choir in John Eliot Gardiner's BBC Prom this Summer [see my review] and as one of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment's Rising Stars she was singing in their Bach, the Universe and Everything event earlier this year at Kings Place [see my review].

Kieran Rayner sang arias from Rodelinda, Agrippina, Theodora, Siroe and Serse. We have not managed to catch Kieran Rayner live recently, but encountered him in online projects in the last year or so, including with Longborough Opera, and VOPERA's L'enfant et les sortileges. 

Felix Kemp sang arias from Orlando, Samson, Apollo e Dafne, Dettingen Te Deum and Messiah. We caught him in London Song Festival's commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots [see my review] and keeping the Ethel Smyth theme, he is in Retrospect Opera's recording of Smyth's Fete Galante [see my review]. On Friday 29 October 2021, Felix Kemp is performing in London Song Festival's An Obsession with Decadence, exploring settings of poet Charles Beaudelaire [London Song Festival]

The event was live-streamed and is available on YouTube.

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