The Blakes Prize for Solo Song 2021

Adjudication by Frances Jellard

Frances Jellard teaches Voice at RADA and is Head of Singing at Latymer Upper School.

Frances trained at the Royal College of Music and the RCM Opera School. She is a member of many vocal ensembles, including the Monteverdi Choir and the Scholars Baroque Ensemble, and has toured the world extensively.

Frances enjoys a wide variety of performing styles, making her professional theatrical debut in the Old Vic production of Isaac Babel’s Marya, and continues to do regular stage and opera work. She sings with the Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, is an experienced oratorio soloist, and performs recitals of cabaret, music hall and contemporary song. She has also recorded several soundtracks for film and television.

The Blakes Prize for Solo Song 2020

27 February 2020

A superb Blakes Song Competition this year, with nine performances in many different styles, was adjudicated by Guy Harbottle, a baritone who has worked with Les Arts Florissants and the Berlin Philharmonic. Freddie opened with an atmospheric rendition of Somewhere over the Rainbow and was followed by Dylan who gave us Trauer der Liebe in excellent German. Thomas P came next with Bernstein’s emotional Make of our hearts one heart from West Side Story and then Thomas M with Purcell’s famous Fairest Isle. Oliver D sang for the first time as a tenor and gave us Copland’s Long time ago and was followed by Oliver C with Handel’s Silent Worship. Sam took to the floor with Curtis’ famous Torna a Surriento, Rui came next with Ireland’s beautiful Sea Fever and James closed with the second outing of Somewhere over the Rainbow.

Guy commented on the poise showed by all the singers and awarded second place to Oliver C and first place to Sam.

The Blakes Solo Song Competition 2019

Eleven boys gave some really excellent performances this year, before Adjudicator Russell Burton. Alex kicked off with the traditional The Banks of Allan Water and was followed by Dylan singing Gounod’s Ave Regina Coelorum. Tom gave us Fly me to the Moon in his newly-minted tenor voice and Thomas W gave us Purcell’s I attempt from Love’s Sickness to Fly. Olly shivered our timbers with Ride out the Storm and Max gave us the traditional Farmer’s Boy. Thomas E gave us Gluck’s famous O del mio dolce ardor and Cameron gave us Finzi’s delightful Who is Sylvia?. Rui gave us a stylish I got you under my and Edward a tongue-twisting Funiculi, funicula. Sam finished with a very dramatic O sole mio.

Russell Burton commented on stance, diction and conviction in performance, giving second place to Thomas E and first place to Sam, asking him to sing once more.

The Blakes Prize for Solo Song 2015

Wednesday 28th January 2015

The Blakes Competiton made a welcome return, with five boys competing for the Prize.  Our Adjudicator was Mr. William Mackie, former bass with ENO, WNO and Scottish Opera, and protégé of Peter Pears.

Tobias opened proceedings with a sensitive and well though-out account of Schuberts’ Die Forelle, and following was Rui, the youngest competitor, who gave Handel’s Where’er you walk, showing off his true and clear voice.  Oliver, newly resplendent as a baritone, gave us Schubert’s Lachen und Weinen and was followed by Peter, who sang Ireland’s famous Sea Fever with gravitas.  The programme closed with Christian who gave a dramatic account of Fauré’s Claire de Lune.

Mr. Mackie spoke of the importance of making a link with the audience, which could include better eye-contact or more immediate diction.  He gave second place to Christian, and first place to Oliver, who he asked to sing once again.

The Blakes Prize for Solo Song 2013

We were lucky this year to have Mr. Lindsay Gray to adjudicate, and the list of songs song did not disappoint.

Nathan opened, with Schumann’s Die Lotosblume, sung (as Mr. Gray remarked) with great sensitivity and line.  Oliver followed with a convincing and rewarding account of Franck’s Panis Angelicus, and was in turn followed by Robert giving us his Buss und Reu from the Matthew Passion.  Jason’s account of Where’re you walk in his pure and true treble was a delight, and Jonty’s performance of Bist du bei mir showed just what well-developed top notes he has.  Peter’s Dream Valley by Roger Quilter was a new departure for his voice, and very nicely sung too, and he was succeeded by Dewi’s very assertive and musical account of Haydn’s Piercing eyes.  Gareth finished up the performances with the perennial favourite Sweet Chance, sung in his newly-acquired rich baritone.

After some general tips about stage-craft and breathing, Lindsay, who held a choral scholarship at King’s College Cambridge and has just finished as Director of the Royal Schools of Church Music, gave second place to Jonty, and first place to Robert for his Buss und Reu, which has asked Robert to sing for us once more.