The 27-year-old contralto Jessica Dandy from Barrow-in-Furness has won the London Bach Society’s 6th Bach Singers Prize competition with her programme of recitatives and arias from the solo Cantatas BWV 170 and BWV 35. The competition formed part of the LBS Bachfest 2017.
Jess is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Trinity College Cambridge. She was a Britten-Pears Young Artist in 2014 and has performed at the Oxford Lieder Festival, Wigmore Hall, Milton Court and Barbican Hall.
Her current portfolio of achievements contains a range of opera, recitals, concert work and participation in Master Classes and she plans to use her Prize money of £2,500 on travel to and from auditions in the UK and Europe, further lessons with teacher Gary Coward, coachings with Hilary Summers and Catherine Wyn-Rogers, and attendance at further Master Classes. The runners up were: tenor Hiroshi Amako, soprano Rebecca Lea and counter tenor Alexander Simpson who each receive £500.
The Jury Members were journalist & author Jessica Duchen, the tenor Ian Partridge CBE, baritone Stephen Roberts and baroque oboist Anthony Robson, who also directed Steinitz Bach Players in The Final.
The prizes were provided by the Hargreaves & Ball Trust and LBS Bach Friends.
Describing the competition, LBS Artistic Director Margaret Steinitz said: “This competition sets the bar high and encourages the singer to delve deeply into Bach’s vocal repertoire when devising their programmes for the first and final rounds. There are prescribed recitatives to be prepared and the semi-finalists each perform a recitative and an aria from a Bach Passion. So, we are looking for singers to meet our criteria and who, in the process, gain valuable experience planning and programming Bach’s music ready for performance. This includes knowledge of the orchestral forces required for their recitatives and ariastoo. We have been very impressed with the breadth of repertoire offered and the care over detail. 44 entered, 10 got through to the Semi Final and 4 to The Final itself. Engagement with Audiences forms part of the competition’s professional development dimension and each Finalist is also asked to introduce their programme prior to performance. To complement the three rounds, Jury Chairman Ian Partridge directed a Master Class entitled “The Art of Singing Bach Recitatives” sharing with participants from the first round a lifetime of experience singing them. It was altogether an enriching experience for all involved, including me!”