The Kathleen Ferrier Awards Competition 2021 Winners Announced

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The prize winners of the 66th Kathleen Ferrier Awards were announced last night (Sunday 14 November) after a competition which saw the semi-finalists and finalists perform at Southwark’s Grade II listed Henry Wood Hall.

The annual Awards Competition, held in memory of the extraordinary contralto, have a reputation as being career-making for highly talented young singers. This year, British countertenor Hugh Cutting won the first prize of £12,500. Hugh is a member of the Royal College of Music International Opera Studio and a Vocal Masters graduate of the Royal College of Music. He has recorded with The King’s Consort and Robert King, and with Iestyn Davies and Fretwork for Signum Classics.

Latvian soprano Laura Peresivana won the second prize of £6,000. Laura, who currently studies at the Guildhall Opera School, began her operatic career at the Latvian National Opera. Previously, Laura won the 54th Tenor Vinas International Singing Contest Extraordinary prize.

The Ferrier Loveday Song Prize of £5,000 went to British mezzo Helen Charlston. Helen won first prize in the 2018 Handel Singing Competition and was a finalist in the Hurn Court Opera Competition, and the Grange Festival International Singing Competition.

Lastly, the Accompanist’s Prize – funded by Help Musicians – went to Israeli pianist Ilan Kurtser, who will receive £5,000. Ilan is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music, and is a Leeds Lieder Young Artist and a member of the prestigious Academy Song Circle.

The jury for the Awards was chaired by Sir Thomas Allen, star for 50 years of the major opera houses of the world and a trustee of the Ferrier since 1994. He was joined by mezzo Alice Coote, a leading artist of our time; soprano Valerie Masterson whose career spanned Monteverdi to Henze; Ian Partridge, the distinguished tenor recitalist; and James Baillieu, leading song and chamber music accompanist.

Ferrier Chairman, Valerie Beale, said: ‘All the singers who entered the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards have persevered through an extraordinarily difficult 18 months and after a strong competition we are delighted that Hugh Cutting isjoining the distinguished and exclusive club of Kathleen Ferrier winners. We look forward to seeing where thisjourney takes him.’ 

The Awards, which was hosted by BBC Radio 3 Presenter, Martin Handley, will be streamed online for free on the Kathleen Ferrier Awards website. The semi-final will be broadcast on Monday 29 November, Tuesday 30 November, Wednesday 1 December and Thursday 2 December at 7.30pm. The final will be available to watch on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December at 7.30pm.

The streams will then remain on the Kathleen Ferrier Awards website after the broadcast for one month to enable repeated viewing. Donations are gratefully received for the free-to-view Awards.

About the Awards

The Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship Fund – which funds the awards – was itself founded in 1953 to commemorate the life of the astonishingly talented contralto Kathleen Ferrier, who died at the young age of 41. Kathleen Ferrier had a fascinating rise to stardom: she went from being a Blackburn telephone operator taking voice lessons in the mid 1930’s to an internationally known singer within fifteen years. Her extraordinary success was due not only to a magnificent voice but a fundamental level of communication with her audience recognised by those who worked with her: those who heard her rarely forgot her. The search for those same qualities – a beautiful voice, a mastery of technique and the ability to speak directly to the audience – is at the heart of the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, which began in 1956.

Notable previous winners of the awards include Elizabeth Harwood, Alfreda Hodgson, Felicity Palmer, Joan Rodgers, Bryn Terfel, Karen Cargill, Ben Johnson, Christina Gansch and Natalya Romaniw amongst others. Recent winners of the awards have included Jessica Cale (2020), Benson Wilson (2019), William Thomas (2018), Julian Van Mellaerts (2017), Alessandro Fisher and James Newby (2016).

Broadcast Schedule


Monday 29 November, 7:30pm

Tuesday 30 November, 7:30pm

Wednesday 1 December, 7:30pm

Thursday 2 December, 7:30pm


Saturday 4 December, 7:30pm

Sunday 5 December, 7:30pm

Available to watch at


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