NI Opera Launch Festival of Voice

Five young singers compete to perform alongside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

NI Opera is to host its first Festival of Voice, which aims to find new talent via a vocal competition for young singers.

The competition will be held in Glenarm from September 9 - 11, and the winner will receive a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform alongside world-class soprano, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, at a special NI Opera concert during the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

The five young singers will compete in a grand final at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenarm on Sunday, September 11. They will be judged by a panel of experts including singer and NI Opera board member Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, conductor Nic Chalmers, opera singer Kathryn Harries, and pianist Iain Burnside.

NI Opera has selected the following five young finalists to compete: Sarah Richmond, mezzo-soprano from Carrickfergus; Ben McAteer, baritone from Newry; Lynda-Jane Workman, mezzo-soprano from Coleraine; Rachel Kelly, mezzo-soprano from Dublin; and John Porter, tenor from Lifford.

These five young singers will spend the festival weekend learning and honing their singing, acting and performance skills, taking part in workshops and learning from experienced, professional singers.

The weekend will culminate in a singing competition, where all five singers will perform to a paying audience and judging panel, with the winner announced at the end of the evening.

The lucky winner will receive a top prize of £2,000 and the chance to take part in a concert with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa on October 30 at the Ulster Hall.

Mark Chambers, curator of the festival, said: 'What we aim to do through the Festival of Voice is identify talent early and provide active opportunities and public exposure to these young singers to advance their careers.

Rosa Solinas, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'The Festival of Voice is an excellent platform for these young, emerging singers to develop their skills at such an important stage in their career.

'The Arts Council is focussed on making opera accessible to as wide an audience as possible and we are very supportive of innovative ways to engage young people in music. This vocal competition certainly promises to do that and we wish all of the finalists good luck.'

During the Festival of Voice, audiences will also be treated to recitals by professional opera singers, Ailish Tynan and Kathryn Harries. Tickets for these recitals and the vocal competition are now on sale via Larne Tourist Centre on 028 2826 0088, or by email to