The Voice of Black Opera Competition Announces 2022 Winners

By David Salazar

The Voice of Black Opera competition has announced the winners of its 2022 edition.

Taking home the top prize, The Sir Willard White Trophy, was British soprano Rachel Duckett. She will also be awarded 10,000 pounds, a repertoire coaching with the music staff of the Welsh National Opera, and a concert appearance with the WNO Orchestra.

Meanwhile, tenor Thando Mjandana was the recipient of The Samuel Coleridge Taylor Award which comes with 5,000 pounds cash prize and three performances of a new vocal work by Daniel Kidane for voice and ensemble (he will perform with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group).

“It was a spectacular evening and a very hard decision, like choosing between oranges and apples,” Tom Randle, Chair of the judges, said in an official press statement. “Every one of the singers was a worthy and deserving winner. In the end, it came down to those special, indefinable qualities, listening out for something new, something different – the voice that astonishes and surprises.”

Other finalists included mezzo-soprano Chantelle Grant, soprano Yolisa Ngwexana, and soprano Isabelle Peters. Each artist performed at least one contemporary song or aria by a Black or South Asian composer as well as a duet with other professional singers.

The judging panel included Aidan Lang (General Director of the Welsh National Opera), Stephan Meier (Artistic Director of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group), tenor / vocal coach Jean Ronald La Fond, composer Philip Herbert, writer/critic Rupert Christiansen, and composer/conductor Odaline de la Martinez.