The Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship Fund was founded in 1953 in memory of the much-loved contralto from Lancashire who died at the tragically young age of 41 and whose career as a singer lasted just 12 years. The purpose of the Fund was to make an annual award, known as the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, to a young British singer sufficient to cover the cost of a year’s study and general support. The first competition was held in 1956 and it has continued to provide a few outstandingly talented young singers each year since then with the opportunity of making a start in what is a most difficult and demanding career. Further details of the Fund can be found here.
The competition now offers three prizes, a 1st prize of £12,500, a 2nd prize of £6,000 and a Song Prize of £5,000, sponsored in perpetuity by Mark & Liza Loveday. There is also an Accompanist’s Award provided by Help Musicians in memory of Arthur & Gwyneth Harrison.
The competition is usually open to singers of any nationality who have completed at least one year of study in the UK or Eire; they must be aged 28 or under at the time of the final audition. Pianists competing for the accompanist’s award must also be 28 or under. For 2021 these rules have been adjusted slightly to make allowances for change of circumstances due to Covid-19. Full details of the 2021 Awards can be found here.
In 2020 for the first time, the competition was recorded and available on-line for a limited amount of time and this pattern will be continued for 2021. Details of the 2020 winners can be found here.