The prize winners of the 66th Kathleen Ferrier Awards were announced at the end of the final round on Sunday 14th November 2021, after a competition which saw the semi-finalists and finalists perform at Southwark’s Grade II listed Henry Wood Hall.
This year, British countertenor Hugh Cutting won the first prize of £12,500, the first countertenor ever to win first prize in the 66 years in which the Ferrier has been running. Hugh is a member of the Royal College of Music International Opera Studio and a Vocal Masters graduate of the Royal College of Music. He has recorded with The King’s Consort and Robert King, and with Iestyn Davies and Fretwork for Signum Classics.
Latvian soprano Laura Peresivana won the second prize of £6,000. Laura, who currently studies at the National Opera Studio, began her operatic career at the Latvian National Opera. Previously, Laura won the 54th Tenor Vinas International Singing Contest Extraordinary prize.
The Ferrier Loveday Song Prize of £5,000 went to British mezzo Helen Charlston. Helen won first prize in the 2018 Handel Singing Competition and was a finalist in the Hurn Court Opera Competition, and the Grange Festival International Singing Competition. In 2021, she joined the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme.
Lastly, the Accompanist’s Prize – funded by Help Musicians – went to Israeli pianist Ilan Kurtser, who will receive £5,000. Ilan is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music and is a Leeds Lieder Young Artist and a member of the prestigious Academy Song Circle.
The jury for the Awards was chaired by Sir Thomas Allen, star for 50 years of the major opera houses of the world and a Trustee of the Ferrier since 1994. He was joined by mezzo Alice Coote, a leading artist of our time; soprano Valerie Masterson whose career spanned Monteverdi to Henze; Ian Partridge, the distinguished tenor recitalist; and James Baillieu, leading song and chamber music accompanist.
Ferrier Chairman, Valerie Beale, said: ‘All the singers who entered the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards have persevered through an extraordinarily difficult 18 months and after a strong competition we are delighted that Hugh Cutting is joining the distinguished and exclusive club of Kathleen Ferrier winners. We look forward to seeing where this journey takes him.’
The Awards, hosted by BBC Radio 3 Presenter, Martin Handley, will be streamed online for free via the Kathleen Ferrier Awards website. The semi-final will be shown in four parts, available successively on Monday 29th November, Tuesday 30th November, Wednesday 1st December and Thursday 2nd December, each at 7.30pm. The final will be in two parts, respectively available to watch from Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th December, each also at 7.30pm.
The streams will then remain on the Kathleen Ferrier Awards website for one month to enable repeated viewing.