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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.

Five 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.

Applications are now open for The Glenarm Festival of Voice 2021: find out how to apply here.

In 2020, The Festival of Voice took place in First Church Belfast due to the current public health crisis. Behind-the-scenes footage and highlights of the competition were filmed for the first time and you can watch in the screen below on this page.  2020’s finalists were David Corr (baritone), David Howes (bass baritone), Andrew Irwin (tenor), Sarah Luttrell (mezzo soprano) and Jade Phoenix (soprano).  Our accompanists were Frasier Hickland and Fionnuala Ward.

David Corr won the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize and became the Northern Ireland Opera Voice of 2020 and Andrew Irwin won the Audience Prize. You can watch interviews with the finalists, behind-the-scenes footage and highlights of the competition in our film, hosted by our Patron, Sean Rafferty, in the 2020 finale below.

2020’s BBC Radio 3 recitals featured Ailish Tynan (soprano), Anna Huntley (mezzo soprano), James Newby (baritone) and Simon Lepper (piano) and were recorded in Belfast. As in previous years, these performances are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the month after the Festival.

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, plus the opportunity to attend Bruno Caproni’s summer school in Tuscany, Canto al Serchio.

A pianist 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.

The Festival of Voice 2020 was generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, the Esmé Mitchell Trust, Canto al Serchio.  We are grateful to First Church Belfast for accommodating the Festival in 2020 which could not take place as usual in Glenarm due to the current public health circumstances.