The festival features a number of public recitals and events and culminates in a vocal competition hosted by Northern Ireland Opera Patron and BBC Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty. Five singers from all over Ireland are chosen after submitting a recording and they spend four days working with top opera professionals including David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera House, Iain Burnside, pianist and song expert, and Irish soprano Ailish Tynan.
The young singers and pianists involved with the Festival of Voice benefit from a highly focused experience and the opportunity to perform and make contacts with opera professionals. The winner of the competition is awarded a monetary prize which is crucial at the stage they are in their careers, and they will act as an ambassador for the company performing at events and with the Young Artists.
A pianist internship is also offered as part of the festival and each year a young pianist is chosen to work closely with the coaches and play for rehearsals and the Irish song section of the competition. Another key element of the festival is the ‘Glens of Antrim Singing Explorers’, an outreach project which involves local primary school children in a singing summer school. The project culminates in a performance during the festival weekend which will help to develop the next generation of singers while promoting the festival to new audiences.
The Festival of Voice 2016 was generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Mid and East Antrim Council, Worthingtons Solicitors, the Londonderry Arms Hotel, The Esmé Mitchell Trust, The Leche Trust, and The Lord and Lady Lurgan Trust.