BBC Cardiff Singer Of The World Competition 2017: Kiri Te Kanawa & Grace Bumbry Among Judges

By David Salazar

We know the performers. Now let’s find out a little about the people that will be charged with picking the winners.

The 2017 edition of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World judging panel features a total of eight major figures, all of them of international renown. Here is a quick rundown of the eight judges.

Grace Bumbry

Bumbry is one of the great American opera stars of the 20th century. She successfully transitioned from mezzo-soprano to soprano and was a major fixture at opera houses around the world. She was the first black singer to perform at Bayreuth and has performed at such houses as the Vienna State Opera, the Palais Garnier, La Scala, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival, Orange, and Verona. She has four honorary doctorates and a number of lifetime achievement awards. She also formed the Grace Bumbry Vocal and Opera Academy, the Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble, and the International Ambassadors of Opera and Concert.

John Gilhooly

Gilhooly is the director of Wigmore Hall, making him the youngest leader of any of the world’s most renowned concert halls. Prior to that 2005 appointment, he served as the hall’s executive director beginning in 2000. He has won great personal prestige in England, Finland, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere.

Wolgang Holzmair

The Austrian baritone has performed around the world and has an extensive recorded legacy that includes music of Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schumann, and Wolf, among others. He has also taught at the Mozarteum and the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Sumi Jo

Another internationally renowned opera star, Jo has over 50 recordings to her credit and won a Grammy Award for “Die Frau ohne Schatten” under Sir George Solti and “Un Ballo in Maschera” under Herbert von Karajan. She has also appeared at all the major opera houses of the world and even obtained Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her work on the film “Youth.”

David Pountney

Pountney’s resume looks something like this: director of productions at the Scottish Opera (1975-80), ENO (1980-83), and intendant of the Bregenz Festival (2013-14). He has also been artistic director at WNO and has directed productions in a wide range of repertoire from Phillip Glass to Rossini to Berg. He also wrote librettos for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and has translated a number of operas. He is a CBE, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Anu Tali

The young Estonian conductor is the music director of the Sarasota Orchestra and has led such groups as the Houston Symphony and Milwaukee Symphony. She has also appeared regularly with groups in Japan, France, Sweden, and throughout the US. She is the winner of the 2003 ECHO Klassik “Young Artist of the Year” Award for her debut recording “Swan Flight.”

Kiri Te Kanawa

One of the great opera superstars of the 20th century, Te Kanawa really needs little introduction. She performed at virtually every single major opera house around the globe and her artistry has been preserved on numerous albums and DVDs. Not only does she hold 10 honorary doctorates, but she was awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982 and received the Order of Australia and Order of New Zealand. She also launched the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation in 2004 to help support New Zealand and international singers kickstart their careers. She has been the patron of the competition since 2011.

Ailish Tynan

The soprano previously won the Rosenblatt Recital Prize at the 2003 edition of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. She was also a Vilar Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and a BBC New Generation Artist. She has performed at the Welsh National Opera, the Academy of Ancient Music, Garsington Opera, Wigmore Hall, the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, English National Opera, La Scala, and the Houston Grand Opera, among many others.


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