Described as “Dundee’s newest arts festival and Scotland’s first opera festival,” Opera Festival Scotland is a recent addition to the UK’s music scene. Run by a group of volunteers, the organisation says it “aims to educate, engage and inspire”.
The festival has been created by Michael Jamieson. Born in Dundee, his professional background is in events organisation, while he has performed onstage on numerous occasions as a soloist, chorus member and orchestra member. He founded Opera Festival Scotland “as an opportunity for singers, musicians and community members of all backgrounds and skill sets to take part in and enjoy”.
British composer and current Master of The Queen’s Music Judith Weir CBE is honorary patron. She commented: “A grass roots opera festival arising out of the great city of Dundee is a thrilling prospect – let’s make it happen!”
The first events announced by the festival are two singing competitions aimed at discovering and encouraging new and local talent. Both will be held in Dundee in September 2021.
The Young Artists Singing Competition is aimed at young singers at the beginning of their musical career. Applicants should be between the ages of 21 and 30 on 25 September 2021 and either currently studying music or recently graduated in voice, music or opera. They must be based in the UK or Europe.
Four finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges comprising soprano Janis Kelly, Head of Casting at English National Opera Michelle Williams, Co-founder and General Director of Opera For Peace Julia Lagahuzere, Head of Casting for Scottish Opera Sarah-Jane Davies, former singer and teacher Linda Ormiston and composer Paul Mealor.
The finalists will perform at Dundee’s Caird Hall on 25 September 2021, accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. They will need to be available in Dundee between 22 September and 25 September for a rehearsal with the conductor and the orchestra before the final.
The winner of the Young Artists Singing Competition will receive the Opera Festival Scotland trophy, a lunchtime recital performance arranged by English National Opera, a masterclass with American conductor and pianist Kamal Khan and a £1,500 career grant.
The Non-professionals 30+ Singing Competition is open to singers over the age of 30 on 24 September 2021 who have chosen alternative career paths to music but continue to develop their skills in operatic singing. It is particularly aimed at those “who did not have the opportunity to study music at an earlier stage in life and were unable to pursue a musical career,” Opera Festival Scotland said in a statement.
Five finalists will be selected by the judges and will perform at Marryat Hall on 24 September 2021. Singers of any voice type based in the UK may apply. The panel comprises conductor, musicologist, writer and lecturer Michael Downes and vocal coach Jean Webster.
The winner of the Non-Professional 30+ Singing Competition will receive £250, a recital opportunity as part of Opera Festival Scotland’s next programme and a masterclass with soprano Judith Howarth.
Applications for both competitions are open now and close on 31 March. A fee of £35 for the young artists competition and of £20 for the non-professionals covers all application administration costs. For further information and to apply for either competition, visit the Opera Festival Scotland website.
Tickets for both competitions will be available later this year. Other performances will be announced as details become finalised.
Dundee’s Caird Hall will host Opera Festival Scotland’s Young Artists Singing Competition.