2017 Competition

Congratulations to the prize winners of the 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, which took place at Wigmore Hall on Thursday 7 September.

The semi-final and final are available to watch on our Live Stream page

First Prize

Julien Van Mellaerts

Julien Van Mellaerts baritone

New Zealand baritone, Julien Van Mellaerts, has just graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School where he was Fishmongers’ Company Scholar studying with Russell Smythe.

He has recently won first place in the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall. This summer he has performed in Salome with Charles Dutoit, and worked with Thomas Quasthoff and Thomas Hampson on the Lieder course at Verbier Festival. He is currently touring with Diva Opera, playing the role of Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

He is generously supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, and the Countess of Munster, Hunn, and Peace and Prosperity Trust.

Second Prize

John Brancy

John Brancy baritone

Winner of the 2013 Marilyn Horne Song Competition, baritone John Brancy has been hailed by The New York Times as a ‘vibrant, resonant presence’. Gerald Finley was quoted in Opera News saying ‘I look at John Brancy, a young artist who’s got his teeth in it, who loves the challenge of art song.’

With recent operatic engagements at Opéra de Lorraine, the Glyndebourne Festival, Florida Grand Opera, Oper Frankfurt, and Dresden Semperoper and concert engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and recitals presented by Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center, John is poised for a major international singing career.

Third Prize

Josh Quinn

Josh Quinn baritone

American baritone, Josh Quinn has been has been praised for his ‘butter-smooth timbral beauty’ Boston Musical Intelligencer and for vocalism to which one should ‘sit up and take listen’ Dallas News.

Emerging on the operatic and concert stage and has made recent debuts with the American Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Maine, West Edge Opera, the Prototype Festival (NYC), and the New Haven Symphony. He is also an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera.

Recently, Josh has placed in many prestigious competitions: Gerda Lissner Lieder Competition, Francisco Viñas Competition, George London Foundation, Opera Index, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Finalist Prize

Clara Osowski

Clara Osowski mezzo-soprano

Clara Osowski is an active soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe.

Her recent awards include second place in the 2017 Das Lied International Song Competition, finalist in the Madison Handel Aria Competition, winner of the 2017 Houston Sängerbund Competition, runner-up in the 2016 American Prize for Art Song, and runner-up in the 2016 Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition.

Clara is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Source Song Festival, a week long art song festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Pianist's Prize

Ian Tindale

Tindale Ian crRuthAtkinsonPhotography songcompbio2017Ian Tindale piano

Ian Tindale studied at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Simon Lepper, John Blakely and Roger Vignoles. Ian has won Accompanist’s Prizes in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and the Royal Over-Seas League Competition; he is also a Samling Artist and a Britten-Pears Young Artist.

Recent engagements have included a recital tour of Die Schöne Müllerin with tenor Nick Pritchard, recitals in the Oxford Lieder, Ryedale and Buxton Festivals, and appearances on BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’ and BBC2 ‘Proms Extra’. He has collaborated with artists such as Soraya Mafi, Ailish Tynan, Susan Bullock, Nicky Spence and Christopher Purve

Jean Meikle Prize for a Duo

Kindly donated by The Jean Meikle Music Trust

Gemma Summerfield & Sebastian Wybrew

Summerfield Gemma crArnoldPhotography songcompbio2017Gemma Summerfield soprano

At the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, soprano Gemma Summerfield won both First Prize and the Song Prize.

She is a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians as a recipient of the Silver Medal, and graduate of the Georg Solti Accademia and Verbier Festival Academy. She has recently graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School having performed roles such as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Ginevra in Ariodante, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte.

Gemma is also an active recitalist and performs on platforms such as The Oxford Lieder Festival, The Leeds Lieder Festival, The Brighton Festival, and as part of the Wigmore Series.


Wybrew Sebastian crMalcolmCrowthers songcompbio2017Sebastian Wybrew piano

Sebastian Wybrew has appeared with many of the UK’s most eminent performers. In 2014 he made his debut at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam with Ian Bostridge, and his duo with Sophie Bevan made its Wigmore Hall debut in 2011.

Sebastian regularly performs at festivals throughout Europe including Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Zaragoza, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorprommen. Sebastian has received acclaim from Classical Music magazine for his recording of Geoffrey Grey’s Partita with trumpeter Simon Cheney. He was awarded the Accompanist Prize at the 2010 John Kerr English Song Competition, and is a beneficiary of the Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust.

In much demand as a pedagogue, he has been involved with the faculties of the Royal College of Music, the Edward Said Conservatory, the Fondation Royaumont and Musique en cote Basque.

Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder

Sponsored by The Anglo-Austrian Music Society

  • Clara Osowski mezzo-soprano


Sir Ralph Kohn FRS

This year’s competition celebrated the outstanding contribution of the late Sir Ralph Kohn FRS as its original founder. It was a fitting tribute to this great man and his huge contribution to medical science, philanthropy and music.



The Members of the International Jury included:

  • John Gilhooly OBE Chairman
    Director, Wigmore Hall
  • Hugh Canning
    Chief classical music critic of The Sunday Times
  • Bernarda Fink
  • Christian Gerhaher
  • Soile Isokoski
  • David Jackson
    Artistic Director, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
  • Graham Johnson OBE
  • François Le Roux
  • Dame Felicity Lott

The Members of the Invitation Jury were:

  • Richard Jackson
  • Simon Lepper
  • Joy Mammen
    singing teacher, vocal coach

Honorary Patrons

  • Dame Janet Baker
  • Barbara Bonney
  • Christine Brewer
  • Joyce DiDonato
  • Dame Anne Evans
  • Ann Murray DBE
  • Thomas Quasthoff
  • Sir András Schiff
  • Peter Schreier