Laurence Kilsby with John Gilhooly © Benjamin Eaolovega

After four days of competition in front of a distinguished panel of jurors and audiences live at Wigmore Hall as well as online, 24-year-old British singer Laurence Kilsby was announced last night (Wednesday 7 September) winner of the £10,000 First Prize at Wigmore Hall’s International Song Competition, sponsored for the first time by William and Judith Bollinger.

The £5,000 Second Prize was awarded to 31-year-old Swedish baritone Arvid Fagerfjäll and Third Prize of £2,500 went to the 34-year-old American tenor John Matthew Myers. A Special Prize of £1000 was specially created for the 27-year-old German mezzo-soprano Susan Zarrabi.

All the rounds, featuring 24 singers from around the world, were live streamed to international audiences and can still be viewed at https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/watch-listen/live-stream.

The £3,000 Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder was awarded to John Matthew Myers. The £2,000 Vaughan Williams Song Prize for the best interpretation of songs in English by a British composer went to 26-year-old Brazilian bass-baritone Vinicius Costa. 29-year-old Korean bass-baritone Jeeyoung Lim and 24-year-old Austrian pianist Benedikt Holter were awarded the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme Prize worth £2,000.

28-year old Japanese pianist Hikaru Kanki wins the £5,000 Pianists Prize; 31-year-old British-Hungarian Anna Cavaliero and 29-year-old Swiss pianist Sebastian Issler were awarded the £5,000 Jean Meikle Prize for a Duo for their outstanding partnership.

Over the past 12 months, Laurence Kilsby made his debut with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, toured Bach’s St John Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) and Ensemble Pygmalion and participated in Carnegie Hall’s SongStudio with Renée Fleming. Recent engagements have included Apollo in Orfeo, Henrik Egerman in A Little Night Music, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor at the Salzburg Festival and Peter Sellars’s staging of the St John Passion with the OAE and Sir Simon Rattle. He has given recitals at the International Lied Festival Zeist, Snape Maltings, the Academy of Arts in Berlin, and appears with Malcolm Martineau on his recent album The Call. Laurence studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Royal College of Music.

Director of Wigmore Hall and chair of the Jury John Gilhooly says of the Competition:

‘The Wigmore Hall/Bollinger International Song Competition is all about recognising and encouraging the next generation of great performers and there is no doubt that this thrilling week highlighted many wonderful musical personalities. The quality of the performances has been outstanding, and it is certain that the future of the great art of song is assured. Congratulations to Laurence Kilsby, and we greatly look forward to hearing him again at Wigmore Hall very soon.’

Celebrating the art of song, the week-long biennial International Song Competition has grown in status and prestige to become one of the most significant platforms worldwide for recognising young talent in song recital since it was established in 1997.

A truly international list of emerging performers aged 34 and under, all on the verge of embarking on significant international careers, took part during the week, which also included public masterclasses, coaching and feedback from some of the foremost international song performers and experts.

The Jury was comprised of eminent performers and leading vocal experts including Roberta Alexander, Olaf Bär, Hugh Canning, Bernarda Fink, David Jackson, Graham Johnson OBE, Dame Felicity Lott, Claron McFadden and Asadour Santourian.