British/ Australian soprano Lauren Lodge-Campbell was the winner of the Spring Festival of the Baroque Singing Competition held at the Prince Michael Hall in Cheltenham on Friday 31st March. Second prize went to Sylwia Stepien (soprano), and Joanna Harries (mezzo-soprano) won the third prize. This new competition for young professional singers of Baroque music attracted contestants from around the country, and showcased an impressive range of new talent to an appreciative audience.
The Singing Competition opened the Cheltenham Bach Choir’s Spring Festival of the Baroque, a weekend of outstanding Baroque music-making in Cheltenham. Ten contestants performed before a panel of experienced judges, who selected a shortlist of five finalists to perform at the evening concert, following which the panel picked the three winners. The prizes were awarded in memory of Cedric Virgin (1924 – 2014), a long-time member and supporter of the Cheltenham Bach Choir; Cedric’s nephew, Jonathan Wilmer, presented the prizes.
David Crown, Music Director of the Cheltenham Bach Choir said “This the first Cheltenham Bach Choir Festival of the Baroque Singing Competition witnessed performances of the highest quality. Whittling down the first round to the finalists was hard, but the extremely high standard in the final really tested the judges – Catherine Bott, Peter Savidge and myself. In the end the worthy winner was soprano Lauren Lodge-Campbell, whose crystalline tones and consistently high levels of performance, encompassed in some wonderful Bach singing, saw her take the first prize by a whisker. It was a fantastic start to this new competition for young professional singers.”.
The Spring Festival also included a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and a concert of Bach Partitas played by prize-winning violinist Benjamin Baker. The Festival was supported by the Oldham Foundation.
[photographs are available]