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The Festival of Voice is our annual celebration of singing in the historic coastal village of Glenarm, Co. Antrim.

It features public recitals and events, including three concerts in partnership with and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and culminates in a vocal competition hosted by Northern Ireland Opera Patron and BBC Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty.

Singers from applicants across Ireland are chosen after submitting a recording and they spend four days working with top opera and song professionals including former Director of the National Opera Studio, Kathryn Harries, Simon Lepper, and Ingrid Surgenor. 2021 was a record year for entries with six finalist being chosen to compete for the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize and to become the NI Opera Young Opera Voice of 2021.  For the first time in 2021 there was a Song Prize, sponsored by The Priests Charitable Trust and the Audience Prize voted for by the live audience on the night. 2021’s finalists were Caroline Behan, Amy Conneely, Cerys MacAllister, Ellen Mawhinney, Katie Richardson McCrea and Mattthew Mannion and Brendan Kennedy was chosen as the Peter Rankin Piano Intern.

Find out about the 2021 winners here.

2021’s BBC Radio 3 recitals will feature Ben McAteer (Baritone), Kathryn Rudge (mezzo soprano) and Elizabeth Watts (soprano), each with Simon Lepper (piano). As in previous years, these performances will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in September/October 2021.

The singers and pianists involved with the Glenarm 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 the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize, also a monetary prize which is crucial at the stage they are in their careers. There is also a monetary prize for the Audience Prize, decided by the audience’s votes.

The Peter Rankin Piano Internship is 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 during the Irish song section of the competition finale.

Festival of Voice Finalists 2021

Caroline Behan

Caroline, a native of Kill, Co. Kildare is 23 years old and is currently a Masters in Music Performance student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, studying with Mary Brennan and répétiteur Dearbhla Collins. A prize winner in numerous competitions such as ESB Feis Ceoil, Arklow Music Festival and Newpark Music Festival, in 2020 Caroline was the winner of the Gaiety Bursary competition at RIAM and a finalist in the inaugural Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition Irish Singers Bursary. Her operatic roles include Serpina (La Serva Padrona – Pergolesi), Giunone (La Calisto – Cavalli) and Damigiella (Alcina – Caccini). In 2017 Caroline was awarded a scholarship to travel to Milan to perform in the Bassi Brugnatelli International Singing and Conducting Symposium where she performed with a chamber group from La Scala Opera House. Caroline is also a previous winner of the “Best Performance of an Art Song in English” at the Irené Sandford Competition at RIAM and was a 2018 recipient of a Count John McCormack Society Award at their annual “Evening of Song” at the Mansion House, Dawson Street. Caroline has also performed as part of the ESB Feis Ceoil’s “Young Platform Series” at the National Concert Hall.

Amy Conneely

Amy Conneely is a Mezzo-Soprano from Co. Clare. She completed her
undergraduate degree from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in 2018 with a First-Class Honours under the tutelage of Colette McGahon-Tosh and Richard McGrath. Here, Amy was awarded the DIT Brian McNamara medal for attaining the highest mark in vocal performance for her final year recital. Since completing her studies at DIT, Amy has been studying with renowned Irish soprano, Mairead Buicke. Amy has also worked alongside Irish National Opera and Blackwater
Valley Opera Festival. Amy looks forward to continuing her studies at The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, with Catrin Wyn-Davis commencing September 2021.

Cerys MacAllister

Cerys has recently graduated from her BMus in vocal performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She is about to enter into her Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music London, where she received a scholarship to study. Cerys has performed as chorus in Lyric Opera and as part of RIAM Opera, most recently in Kevin O’ Connell’s Dreamcatchr.

Matthew Mannion

Matthew Mannion, Bass-Baritone, is a first year Masters Student in the Royal Irish Academy of Music where he studies with Owen Gilhooly and Dearbhla Collins. Most recently Matthew was selected as a guest artist as part of the Rising Stars 2021 Concert Series in the University of Limerick Concert Hall. He also sang the roles of Uberto in La Serva Padrona (RIAM 2021), Giove in Francesco Cavalli’s ‘La Calisto’ (RIAM 2020) and was a guest artist in the ‘Festival of Voice with Tara Erraught’ (Drogheda Classical Music). In 2018-19 he created the role of Owen in the world premiere of ‘The Stalls’ in Cork Opera House, sang First Priest in’ Die Zauberflote’ with Irish National Opera, Surgeon in the Irish Premiere of Banished by Stephen McNeff (RIAM), toured with Irish National Opera’s Orfeo ed Euridice, created the role of Liam in Tom Lane’s BackStage (Cork Midsummer Festival) and sang the title role in the Irish premiere of Judith Weir’s Scipio’s Dream (RIAM). Other roles include Samuel in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance (Lyric Opera), Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Flat Pack Music), Marchese in Verdi’s La traviata, Morales in Bizet’s Carmen (Lyric Opera), the Imperial Commissioner in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Lyric Opera/Bowdon Opera Festival), Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Opera Britain), Bartolo in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (DIT), and Second Elder in Handel’s Susanna (DIT/Yorke Trust). As a soloist he has sung in Salford Choral Society’s ‘Elijah’, Irish National Opera’s Studio Opera Gala, Handel’s Messiah (Blackburn Music Society), Mozart’s Requiem (University of Dublin Choral Society, Wexford Festival Singers, Carlow Choral Society), Britten’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’, Beethoven’s Mass in C (Carlow Choral Society), and Jesus in Bach’s St John Passion (Liverpool Baroque Orchestra). Matthew received 3rd place in the 2017 Irene Sandford Competition, and was a finalist in the 2019 Dramatic Cup in Dublin Feis Ceoil, as well as the Birr Trench Awards. Matthew will also be singing the role of Melisso in Handel’s ‘Alcina’ with the Saluzzo Opera Academy (July 2021).

Ellen Mawhinney

Originally from Northern Ireland, Ellen Mawhinney is a soprano who is currently studying on the MMus Vocal Performance programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under the tutelage of Wilma MacDougall after graduating the BMus programme with a First Class Honours. Her opera performances most recently include Die Fledermaus with NI Opera, the role of Gretel, Konstanze and Marguerite in RCS Opera Scenes, Scottish Opera’s concert production of Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel and English National Opera’s collaboration with RCS of Dove’s The Day After. Ellen has most recently enjoyed performing for NI Opera for one of their virtual gala concerts this past year as well as recording with the BBCNI as their weekly spotlight recitalist for Classical Connections. Ellen is the most recent recipient of the Irish Heritage Bursary Award after winning the competition at the Wigmore Hall. This result is only after her success at the Charles Wood Song Competition where she was also awarded first place. Other results include third place in the Hugh S Robertson Award (RCS), third place in the Norma Grieg French song Prize and a finalist of the Governor’s Recital Prize (RCS). Ellen was also appointed as a choral scholar for the Genesis Sixteen programme and has since joined The Sixteen in concert for their world debut performance of James Macmillan’s The Grand Inconnu at the opening of the Edinburgh International Festival at Usher Hall and the Barbican Hall in London.

As well as a soloist, Ellen enjoys her role as musical director for Carlisle Community Choir and Cardonald Parish Church. She is also a singing teacher for the National Youth Choir of Scotland. After this past year, Ellen is beyond excited to have this performance opportunity at Glenarm.

Katie Richardson McCrea

Katie Richardson McCrea, Mezzo-soprano, is a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and will begin her masters studies at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London this coming September. In Oratorio, Katie has performed as the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah with The Dublin Bach Singers and Marlborough Baroque Orchestra, Mrs Noah in Benjamin Britten’s Noye Fludde in Dublin and Carlow, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with Wicklow Choral society, Mozart Spatzenmesse and ‘Book of changes’ by Georgia Johnson with Diva Voces. At the National Concert Hall, Katie sang as a soloist with Culwick Choral society, and at The Great Christmas concert with the Lassus scholars. Katie has sang as Part of Dublin song series in Hugh lane Gallery, Ina Boyle’s Gaelic Hymns with the Goethe Choir, and at Kilruddery house with the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition. In 2021 Katie performed in University Concert Hall Limerick as part of their Rising Stars Concert. In RIAM opera productions, Katie played several roles, including  Madge in ‘Banished’ by Stephen McNeff in Kilmainham and Venus in Monteverdi’s il Ballo delle ingrate at the Peacock Theatre. As a soloist with RIAM chorale, Katie has sang Handel’s Messiah, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb. Katie is a prize winner in the Feis Ceoil, winning the Dermot Troy for Oratorio, the Contralto competition, and in 2021 the Lieder Prize and Mahler award. This year, Katie has been studying with Mary Brennan and Dearbhla Collins and working regularly as part of Irish National Opera’s chorus in their live-streamed productions.