We are delighted to announce the inauguration of two exciting competitions for singers which will be held in Dundee in September 2021. It is our hope these competitions will appeal not only to young singers beginning their musical careers, but also to those who have outstanding singing talent but have chosen alternative career paths.
Opera Festival Scotland’s Young Artists Singing Competition welcomes singers to participate who are between the ages of 21 and 30 on September 25th, 2021, who are currently studying music or recently graduated in voice/ music/opera, and legally abiding in the UK or Europe.
Accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Young Artists Singing Competition offers a fantastic opportunity to sing with a world-class orchestra in front of a live audience and Jury Panel.
The Non-professionals 30+ Singing Competition is for singers over the age of 30 on 24th September 2021, who have chosen alternative career paths to music but still continue to develop their skills and artistry in operatic singing and who are vital in sustaining opera in their communities.
This competition is an opportunity to showcase amateur talent from those who sing in their local communities on a non-professional level. Please see our definition of non-professional for further clarity.
This category is open to UK residents. There is no upper age limit!
Tickets for both competitions available Spring 2021
APPLICATIONS FOR BOTH COMPETITIONS WILL OPEN ON JANUARY 1ST 2021.
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By non-professional, this would mean the singer has not received formal vocal training at university or conservatoire level, does not perform with professional operatic companies, and does not receive main income from singing.
Michelle trained as a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She began her career at Scottish Opera as Assistant Company Manager. Michelle then held the role of Artists’ Manager, collaborating with the Music Director on the casting, management and contracting of guest singers and conductors for both small- and main-scale productions, as well as for education projects, fundraising events and outside engagements.
In January 2016, she became Head of Casting, contributing to Scottish Opera’s strategic planning and programming, and coordinating Scottish Opera’s involvement in the training of artists and arts professionals.
In 2015-16, she was awarded the Creative Scotland Fellowship of the Clore Leadership Programme, mentored by Vikki Heywood.
In March 2017, she joined English National Opera as Head of Casting.
Sarah-Jane trained as soprano at the Royal College of Music and then went straight on to the English National Opera Young Artists’ Programme where she performed leading roles such as Pamina and 1st Lady, Die Zauberflöte; Romilda Xerxes; Contessa Le Nozze di Figaro; Angel Jephtha; Crobyle in Massenet's Thaïs, High Priestess Aida; 1st Flower Maiden Parsifal; Dunyasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace for the BBC Proms.
She appeared in these and other roles such as Michaela Carmen; Miss Jessel Turn of the Screw; Fiordiligi Cosi fan Tutte; Tatyana Onegin; for Welsh National Opera; Garsington Opera; Opera Holland Park; Reisopera; Edinburgh International Festival.
In 2013 Sarah-Jane left the opera stage to pursue a career in Artistic Management with Scottish Opera where she is currently the Head of Casting and Head of the singer’s Emerging Artist programme.
She has been Director of Les Azuriales Opera Young Artists’ Programme since 2012.
Julia Lagahuzere was previously Deputy Casting Director of Opera National de Paris in the two theatres of Opera de Bastille and Palais Garnier.
She is currently artistic consultant to the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo, Norway. Julia has a passion for finding and helping to nurture young talent and established a concert series in order to strengthen relations between the QSMIC and the top international young artists programs; notably in collaboration with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. She has previously worked at the San Francisco Opera, Scottish Opera and Opera de Limoges.
Julia is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and Sussex University, a musicology scholarship recipient at the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a Masters degree in Opera and Visual Performing Arts from King’s College London, in collaboration with the BBC
Heralded as a “singing actress of near genius” (Sunday Times) who “has such natural grace and emotional eloquence that she cannot fail to touch the heart” (Independent), soprano Janis Kelly originated the title role of Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna at the Manchester International Festival. At the opera’s debut, the Financial Times summed: “In the Callas-like title role Janis Kelly gives the performance of her life.”
Most recent and future appearances include Marcellina Le Nozze di Figaro (English National Opera)‚ Mrs Lovett Sweeney Todd (Welsh National Opera)‚ Mrs Nixon Nixon in China (Metropolitan Opera‚ New York and Omroep Muziek)‚ Lady Billows Albert Herring (Los Angeles Opera)‚ Hazel George in the World Premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American (Teatro Real‚ Madrid and English National Opera).
Janis can be seen as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot in the film The Life of David Gale and performing Verdi’s La Traviata in Woody Allen’s film Match Point. Kelly made her directorial debut with Mozart’s Così fan tutte at Grange Park Opera‚ where she has since directed Iolanthe as the inaugural production of the Company’s new theatre.
Janis Kelly studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in her native Glasgow‚ at the Royal College of Music in London and with Elisabeth Grümmer in Paris. She is also a regular tutor and directs the annual opera scenes at Oxenfood International Summer School, as well as giving masterclasses globally with the Spheres of Singing Remote convention from Glasgow University. Recently she was awarded the Chair in Vocal Performance at the RCM resulting in the title of Capital "P"professor.
Several of Janis’ students now sing internationally, including SarahJane Brandon, Rosie Aldridge and Soraya Mafi.
Linda Ormiston, born in Motherwell, graduated in Maths and Music from Glasgow University. She then pursued a musical path at the RSAMD (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and the London Opera Centre and after a year with English Opera for All, she joined Scottish Opera for whom she performed more than 25 roles.
Linda has sung with English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Opera Northern Ireland, Buxton Festival Opera and at Glyndebourne. Performances have taken her to opera houses and concerts halls all over Europe, Canada, the USA and Japan, including three years at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Austria.
Linda now teaches at the RCS, where she also directs students in operatic scenes and is regular tutor at the Oxenfoord International Summer School.
She also teaches on the Music Theatre Course at The Dance School of Scotland in Glasgow and examines and directs scenes at the RWCMD in Cardiff.
She adjudicates and gives workshops and master classes all over Britain, Ireland and in Holland.
In summer 2019, she directed two operas at the Nürnberg Hochschule in Germany. She is also much in demand as an after-dinner speaker.
She was awarded the OBE for services to opera and has an honorary Doctorate of Music from St. Andrews University.
Paul Mealor has been described as ‘the most important composer to have emerged in Welsh choral music since William Mathias‘ (New York Times, 2001).
Mealor topped the Classical Charts for six weeks with his bestselling album, A Tender Light in November 2011. He also broke records by being the first classical composer to hold both the classical and pop chart No 1’s at the same time in December 2011, securing the UK Christmas No 1 with his piece for The Military Wives Choir and Gareth Malone, Wherever You Are, nominated for Best British Single in the 2012 BRIT Awards.
In April of 2012, Mealor was voted the nation’s favourite living composer during the UK Classic FM Hall of Fame.
Since January 2003, he has taught in the Music Department at the University of Aberdeen where he is Professor of Composition.
Mealor was catapulted to international stardom in April 2011, when 2.5 billion people heard his Motet, Ubi caritas performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal at the Royal Wedding Ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton (now TRH The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge) at Westminster Abbey.
American conductor and pianist Kamal Khan has performed with many opera companies around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Opera, Baltimore Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, Teatro de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Oper der Stadt Bonn and the Staatstheater Schwerin, Germany, Cape Town Opera, Opera South Africa, Opera de Puerto Rico, Asian Cultural Center, Korea and the International Festivals of Cervantino in Mexico and Santander, Mérida, La Coruña, Tenerife and Málaga in Spain. Additionally he has conducted the Jerusalem Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Beijing Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, São Paulo Philharmonic, Balearic Islands Philharmonic, Oviedo Philharmonic, the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic, Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Prof. Khan is a founding member of “Opera for Peace” and is the Director of the Taller para Cantantes in Santo Domingo DR. and is Affiliate Faculty at the Royal Opera Covent Garden Jette Parker Young Artists Program and the Guildhall School. He was the Director of the Opera School at the University of Cape Town and Assistant Conductor and conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and was Resident Conductor and Chorus Master of the Palm Beach Opera where he founded the Resident Artist Program. He was also Resident Conductor of the Opera Festival in Tenerife, Head of Faculty of the International School of Vocal Study of the Balearic Islands and Artistic Director of the Mediterranean Opera Studio and Festival. Additionally he has worked with the Juilliard School.
A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music Kamal Khan was Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and collaborated with such conductors as James Levine, Nello Santi, James Conlon, Julius Rudel, Christian Thielemann, Carlo Rizzi and Marco Armiliato and singers Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Marilyn Horne, Renée Fleming, Carlo Bergonzi, Tatiana Troyanos. Ghena Dimitrova and Bonaldo Giaiotti to name a few. While at the MET he was involved in the musical preparation of many new productions including the telecasts of Schenk / Schneider-Siemssen’s complete Ring Cycle, del Monaco’s La Fanciulla del West and Simon Boccanegra, Zeffielli’sCavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci and the world premiers of Glass’ The Voyage and Corgliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles.
A native of Washington DC, Kamal Khan was the recipient from the first National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts prize, he is also received prizes and grants from the National Association of Music Teachers and the National Symphony Orchestra and the PBS- Channel 13 documentary “I Live to Sing” based on his work in South Africa won the 2014 EMMY for best cultural programming.
For full biography please see
Michael Downes is a conductor, musicologist, writer and lecturer. In 2008 he was appointed as the University of St Andrews’ first full-time Director of Music, following a similar post at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.
At St Andrews he founded Byre Opera which has presented high-quality, professionally directed opera productions at the Byre Theatre and around Scotland for more than a decade. His own performances with the company as conductor include Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and all three of Britten’s chamber operas (Rape of Lucretia, Albert Herring and Turn of the Screw); His conducting of the latter was praised by Andrew Clark in Opera magazine for ‘maintain[ing] dramatic momentum while remaining acutely sensitive to the needs of his cast’.
Michael is also the musical director of the St Andrews Chorus, Scotland’s largest choral society, with whom he has conducted works including Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Apostles and Kingdom.
In 2021 he will conduct a joint concert in the Caird Hall bringing together the singers of St Andrews Chorus and the Dundee Choral Union in Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Delius’s Sea Drift with baritone Mark Stone.
Michael has lectured on opera for most of Britten’s leading companies and around Europe for Martin Randall Travel. His publications include a well-received study of the contemporary British composer Jonathan Harvey and a collaboration with Nike Wagner, great-granddaughter of Richard, on the English version of her book about her family’s history.
Jean Webster (nee Chick) was born in Dundee and educated at Harris Academy where music was her major interest. While there she won the Thomson Leng Gold Medal for Scots Singing.
She studied singing at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow under Winifred Busfield, gaining a DRSAM in Performance and Teaching.
Jean continued her studies in opera and oratorio with Raimund Herincx in Aberdeen.
Jean has performed with many choral societies in the north east of Scotland as Soprano soloist with her repertoire including The Messiah, Verdi Requiem, Haydn Nelson Mass, Haydn Creation and Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle. In addition her recital performances have included German Lieder, English Song and Musicals.
Jean has had a long career as a vocal coach with more than 30 years teaching at the University of Aberdeen ( and the former course at Aberdeen College of Education) and 35 years at The North East of Scotland Music School Aberdeen.
The Non-professional 30+ Singing Competition will take place on Friday 24th September 2021 in an afternoon concert, accompanied by piano.
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Judith Howarth is now one of the most sought after sopranos in Europe and beyond.
She began her studies with Marilyn Smith and then with Patricia MacMahon at the RSAMD where she studied for 4 years.
Judith began to be noticed in her final year, when she was taken on by the eminent agent John Coast. On leaving the RSAMD she was immediately engaged as a principal soprano at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
During 9 seasons she sang many roles including Woglinde, Birthday of the Infanta (Zemlinsky), Gianetta in L'Elisir D'amore, Susanna in Figaro, Elivira in L'Italiana in Algeri, Rhine maiden in Götterdämmerung, Norina in Don Pasquale, Morgana in Alcina, Iris in Semele, Frasquita in Carmen with Zubin Mehta, Siebel in Faust, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida, Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots, Adele in Die Fledermaus conducted by Richard Bonynge, Marzellina in Fidelio conducted by Bernard Haitink, Musetta in La Boheme conducted by Pappano, Liu in Turandot and many more. She also sang her first Gilda in Rigoletto with great success.
Since leaving the Royal Opera, she has sung with some of the best opera houses all over the world. Figaro in Aix en Provence. For Florida Grand Opera; Ballo in Maschera, and all the roles in The Tales of Hoffmann, La Traviata for Glyndebourne, English National Opera and Minnesota Opera, Parsifal with Barenboim at the Staatsoper in Berlin: Fidelio and Liu in Turandot with Kent Nagano. At English National Opera she has sung La Traviata, Il Turco in Italia, Peter Grimes, Rigoletto, Pearl Fishers, Mrs Mao in Nixon in China which she has also sang in New York and Athens, the acclaimed Madam Butterfly produced by Anthony Minghella at English National opera, Minnesota Opera, Welsh National Opera and Finnish National Opera, Peter Grimes in Santiago di Chile, Toulouse, Holland, Oviedo Opera and English National Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in Holland and Finnish Opera, In Santa Fe, Der Agyiptishe Helena and Intermezzo, Fedora in Washington with Placido Domingo, Solimano in Innsbruck, Oberon in Tanglewood with Ozawa, Tom Jones in Drottningholm. Most recently she has had huge success with Maria Stuarda in Minnesota and with Welsh National opera in Britain and Oman. Guillaume Tell at the Rossini festival in Bad Wildbad which was recorded and will be released soon and a new production of Don Carlos in Finnish National Opera.
Judith Howarth has appeared all over the world in concert including Mozart mass in C Minor at the Edinburgh festival with John Elliot Gardner, Der Shauspieldirektor at the Salzburg festival with Frans Bruggen, Strauss four last songs many times including in Vienna with Sir Simon Rattle, Elijah with George Pretre in Vienna and also Carmina Burana, Mozart concert arias in Copenhagen at the Tivoli Festival. Seoul, Dubai, Japan, Jakarta, Brunei Malaysia, Singapore, She sang 3 concerts in Beijing last year and most recently Wuhan. She has toured in concert with Placido Domingo in Amsterdam ( live TV), Brussels, London, Adelaide, Auckland and Hong Kong. Judith has made 39 recordings including the most recently released Spirit of England, Elgar.
She recorded the opera Troilus and Cressida by Walton which won the Gramophone opera recording of the year award. She has also appeared many times on the television, radio and video.
Judith has worked with some of the best coaches and conductors including Claudio Abbado, Sinnopoli, Haitink, Solti, Pappano, Mackerras, Zubin Mehta, Andrew Davis and many more. Judith is also in demand as a teacher and gives masterclasses worldwide now which she thoroughly enjoys when she is not performing.