It was indeed an excellent celebration of young talent in Berlin on Wednesday evening. We were proud of our three mezzo prize winners, Svetlina, Emily, and Zlata, (links above) as they demonstrated to the distinguished audience the qualities that enabled them to emerge victorious from a process that involved 1,000 candidates! Förderpreis (additional prize provided by sponsors) winners Christina Nilsson and Petr Sokolov joined the line up as well as the second prize winner in the male category Mingjie Lei.
One of our distinguished family of pianists working with Neue Stimmen, Manuel Lange, devised a terrific programme with a mixture of song and opera, perfectly tailored to the singers'strenths, and beautifully balanced as a programme in itself. Immensely enjoyable.
Our popular long standing moderator Holger Noltze was his ever charming witty self in presenting the evening, and our indispensable founder Liz Mohn, without whom nothing, presided with her customary authority and grace.
It is hard to believe that I have been part of the Neue Stimmen family for 19 years. It was in February of 1999 that I made my first excursions for the preliminary auditions around the world. It has been a huge pleasure and I can't wait for next year!
Back from Berlin on Thursday, and always a sucker for something different, I made my way to the Barbican for the Britten Sinfonia's programme of Gerald Barry's Conquest of Ireland and Beethoven's Pastoral. The former was dominated by an astonishing virtuoso performance from Joshua Bloom, the thinking person's bass of choice - he is remarkable in whatever he turns his voice, in all its forms, to. And he can whistle as well! What a joy it always is to see Josh, a good friend since he was with COT back in 2007. And how sensible of him to live in Clapham!!
The evening was presided over by Thomas Adès, no less distinguished as a conductor than as a composer. The Britten Sinfonia is a classy set up - if you don't know their work you will be very happy to discover what they do. They have a marvellous season programmed through to 2018-19.
I am off to Garsington this afternoon for the Pre-Dress rehearsal of Capriccio and again tomorrow for the Dress of Die Zauberflöte.