The first national operatic singing competition to take place in Scotland – the Young Artists’ Singing Competition – will take place in Dundee this month. The contest forms part of new classical music event Opera Festival Scotland, which opens on 22 September.

The event will see young singers coming to Dundee for the opportunity to sing with a professional orchestra in front of a live panel of judges. The judges include soprano and chair of voice at the Royal College of Music Janis Kelly, award-winning composer Paul Mealor, head of casting for English National Opera Michelle Williams, head of casting for Scottish Opera Sarah-Jane Davies, Scottish soprano and educator Linda Ormiston, and general director for Opera for Peace Julia Lagahuzere.

The four finalists were chosen from more than 100 applicants studying or working across the UK. They will be accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by John Frederick Hudson.

The competition finalists are sopranos Susie Gibbons (Ireland) and Julieth Lozano (Colombia), tenor Ted Black (England) and baritone Jacobo Ochoa (Colombia). All four have recently completed vocal studies at music schools in the UK and are now looking to move into professional work in the performing arts.

The competition will take place on 25 September, starting at 3pm in Dundee’s Caird Hall. Running for two hours, it will bring Opera Festival Scotland to a close after three days of events across the city.

Competition conductor John Frederick Hudson commented: “Conducting these talented singers with the incredible Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the expansive space of the Caird Hall will be a magical experience for all.

“Opera Festival Scotland is creating opportunities for new, emerging artists and involving the wider Dundee community in the captivating world of opera.”

The four finalists will sing a varied selection of music from several popular operas such as La bohème (The Bohemians, Puccini, 1896), The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, 1791), L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love, Donizetti, 1832) and many more. Opera FEstival Scotland described the “exciting programme” as “some of the most challenging music in the opera world”. The concert will provide an opportunity for newcomers to opera to introduce themselves to the artform, yet is also ideal for those who are familiar with the music.

Several prizes have been donated for the winner to assist them in the early stages of their career. This includes a recital performance opportunity with English National Opera, a masterclass with world-renowned recitalist and conductor Kamal Khan from Opera for Peace, a £1,500 career grant sponsored by the Wavendon Foundation, and the festival trophy.

Master of the Queen’s Music, Scottish composer and festival patron Judith Weir CBE will announce the winner and present the prizes.

The festival is also eager to support and promote singers who are not professional, and so will be hosting a non-professional singing competition for talented singers with alternative careers to music and the expressive arts. The competition is designed for singers who did not have the opportunity to study music at an earlier stage in their life and were therefore unable to pursue a musical career. 

Four finalists, chosen from some of Dundee’s finest non-professional singers, will sing for judges Michael Downes, director of music at St Andrews University, and Jean Webster, a vocal coach at Aberdeen College of Education and North East of Scotland Music School. The event takes place on 24 September at 1pm at Dundee’s Marryat Hall.

CEO of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Alistair Mackie said: “We can’t wait to be back in the Caird Hall for the first ever Opera Festival Scotland. It’s an exciting opportunity for the RSNO to be accompanying the finalists performing in the Young Artists Singing Competition, and it’s brilliant to end the festival programme celebrating emerging talent.”

Tickets for the competition are on sale now, as are tickets for all events in the Opera Festival Scotland programme.



The Young Artists’ Singing Competition will take place in Dundee this September, bringing to a close the first ever Opera Festival Scotland.