2019 Rules, Repertoire and Practical Information

2019 song competition maroon 528x400The Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition has been established with the intention of reflecting, and in the hope of extending, awareness and appreciation of the richness of the song repertoire. German Lieder occupy a pre-eminent place in the history of song, and for the purposes of this Competition, the Lieder of Schubert will be a compulsory part of certain rounds.

Every candidate must perform in English, French and German in the Preliminary and Semi-final rounds, and must also be able to show their abilities in a selection of other languages for the Final round.

The jury will take into consideration the choice and variety of the songs and the balance of the programme.

Repertoire and Selection Process

Stage 1: Selection Stage

Stage 1 is a pre-recorded audition to be judged by a special Invitation Jury. Submissions must consist of three songs and must cover three languages (English, French and German only). The recorded auditions can only be submitted only on a high quality CD or as an MP3 or WAV. No other format can be accepted.

There is no restriction on the number or position of the microphones used for the audio recording, but the recording must be of professional quality and must not be edited or altered in any way. The recording should consist of one complete take only for each song. The Competition advises applicants not to submit recordings made at a concert, as audience and other ambient noise can detract from the quality of the recording.

The programme must last a maximum of 15 minutes and must consist of three songs only as follows:

  • one Schubert Lied from the set list below;
  • one song in English by a British composer;
  • one song in French

Schubert Lied set list

  • Soprano
    Two or three Schubert Lieder tbc
  • Mezzo
    Two or three Schubert Lieder tbc
  • Tenor
    Two or three Schubert Lieder tbc
  • Baritone
    Two or three Schubert Lieder tbc
  • Bass
    Two or three Schubert Lieder tbc

Please note that the MP3 or WAV recording is the only part of the application materials that will be accessed by the Invitation Jury during the Selection Stage. Members of the Selection Jury will listen ‘blind’ to all the submitted recordings, and will not have access to any personal or biographical information or references. Please therefore ensure that the submitted recording is made under the best possible conditions. Applications will be judged solely on the quality of the recorded performance, and this is the only criterion that the Selection Jury will use.

Stages 2, 3 and 4 - Public Rounds

Stage 2: Preliminary Round must consist of a programme which lasts a maximum of 15 minutes and which must only include song/s in English written by a British composer, song/s in French and song/s in German. Songs in any other language will not be accepted. The programme must include at least one Lied by Schubert.

Stage 3: Semi-final must consist of a programme which lasts a maximum of 20 minutes and which must only include song/s in English written by a British composer, song/s in French and song/s in German. Songs in any other language will not be accepted. The programme must include at least two Lieder by Schubert.

Stage 4: Final Four competitors will each give a recital lasting a maximum of 30 minutes. The recital programme can consist of songs in any language, but must include at least one song written after 1950. Please note that new commissions are not acceptable for the ‘post-1950’ category for the Final, unless they have been commissioned by the Competition.

There may be no repetition of repertoire between any of the 4 stages, including Stage 1: Selection Stage.

Please note that all songs for all Stages of the Competition must be published, i.e. all songs must be available in the public domain.

Please also note rule 15 – timings must be submitted with programmes. The overall timings for each Stage given above are for complete programmes including breaks. The jury reserves the right to penalise competitors who overrun.


Competition Rules

  1. The Competition will be held from Saturday 7–Wednesday 11 September 2019 inclusive at Wigmore Hall. Rehearsals at Wigmore Hall for the Preliminary Round will start on the afternoon of Friday 6 September 2019, after the Welcome Meeting which Competitors must attend.
  2. Applications open on Monday 8 October 2018; completed applications and recordings for the Selection Stage must reach the General Manager by 12noon UK time on Friday 15 March 2019.
  3. Recordings must be recent, recorded on or after Monday 8 October 2018.
  4. Applications that arrive after the closing date, or that do not contain all the required material, will not be accepted.
  5. The recording for the Selection Stage must be certified by a recognised musician or the recording engineer as the recent work of the named performers. Competitors are advised to have the recording made professionally otherwise it may not do justice to their performance. The certification document must confirm the name and voice type of the singer, the name of the pianist, the repertoire on the recording and the date and place of recording; it must also be signed and dated by the recognised musician or recording engineer.
  6. The Competition is open to singers and pianists of all nationalities. Pianists will only be considered as part of a duo.
  7. Singers must be aged 33 years or under on Saturday 7 September 2019.
  8. Pianists must be aged 33 years or under on Saturday 7 September 2019.
  9. The Competition is divided into four stages:
    • Stage 1: Selection Stage: Pre-recorded audition by CD, MP3 or WAV only
    • Stage 2: Welcome meeting and rehearsals on Friday 6 September 2019 
      Preliminary Rounds on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September 2019
    • Stage 3: Semi-finals on Monday 9 September 2019
    • Stage 4: Final on Wednesday 11 September 2019
  10. All Stages except Stage 1 will be held at Wigmore Hall in public, and competitors will perform their timed programmes without interruption.

  1. The order of performance for Stage 2 will be decided by the General Manager of the Competition by way of a random draw a maximum of one month and a minimum of two weeks before the Competition begins. The order of performance for subsequent rounds will be determined by the General Manager of the Competition in order to provide a balanced programme of voices and repertoire.
  2. For the purpose of the Competition, Song is defined as settings of poetic texts for voice and piano, in their original form and language.
  3. Allowed

    • Works originally written for performance with piano, or simultaneously written with piano or orchestral accompaniment, i.e. Berlioz: Les nuits d’été; Mahler: Rückert-Lieder, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder, Ravel: Sheherazade.
    • Folk song arrangements/settings written with piano accompaniment, i.e. Berio, Britten, Canteloube, Copland, Dallapiccola, Gerhard, Ravel.
    • Purcell – acceptable in realisations by major 20th century composers such as Britten, Tippett etc.
    • An a cappella song would be permitted only if it were part of a cycle for voice and piano.

    Not allowed

    • Unaccompanied Plainchant
    • Early works i.e. Dowland etc. where accompaniment would have been written for lute or harpsichord. Bach and Handel also fall into this category.
    • Operatic arias
    • Folk-songs, unless in arrangements/settings as described above.
    • Orchestral songs, unless they were conceived for piano accompaniment as described above.
    • Songs from Shows – theatrical context not suitable for a Song Prize
    • Pop Songs
    • New commissions, unless they have been commissioned by the Competition.
  1. All songs must be sung from memory.
  2. Transpositions will be allowed.
  3. Competitors must submit their programme for Stage 1 on the attached application form to correspond with the repertoire outlined in the Repertoire and Selection Process section.

Competitors selected from Stage 1 will proceed to Stage 2 and must then present their programmes for Stages 2, 3 and 4 by Monday 5 June 2019. It is important to present programmes accurately and in the correct performing order, along with timings for each song. Once the Competition programme has been printed no changes will be allowed.

  1. Timings of all works must be submitted with programmes. The overall timings for each Stage given in the breakdown of Stages on page 1 are for complete programmes including breaks. The Jury reserves the right to penalise competitors who overrun.
  2. Competitors must specify the keys and publishers of all the songs they wish to perform at all stages.
  3. For Stages 2 – 4, singers must provide the jury with one photocopy of the original copy of each song. Failure to submit these will result in disqualification. Competitors are reminded that photocopying of published material in copyright is illegal, and that singers and pianists may not perform from such music, unless they own original copies.
  4. Singers are encouraged to come to the Competition with their own pianists, provided they are within the age limit, as established partnerships make a great difference in terms of performance. However, if this is not possible, Wigmore Hall will provide a pianist who is also within the age limit of the Competition. Competitors will be entitled to one rehearsal with this pianist for each stage of the Competition free of charge. Any additional rehearsal will be at the competitor’s expense. If a pianist is required, this must be requested on your application form.
  5. The Competition Jury’s decision at any and every stage of the Competition is final and not open to discussion or correspondence.
  6. Candidates will be informed whether they have been selected to progress to Stage 2 of the Competition by Monday 8 April 2019. Once accepted, candidates must submit their acknowledgement, complete programmes, 100 word biographies, high resolution (minimum 300dpi) colour photographs and further entrance fee by Monday 5 June 2019. The Selection Jury’s decision to accept or refuse an application is final and requires no explanation.
  7. The right is reserved to stream, broadcast or televise any stage of the Competition. However, competitors are not permitted to bring any photographic or recording equipment into any stage of the Competition.

Practical Information

Practical Information for Competitors

  1. Accommodation will be provided at a University Hall of Residence, and the Competition will pay for bed and breakfast for 6 nights for singers and pianists. Any additional nights will be charged separately and must be booked and paid for direct.
  2. No travelling or general expenses can be refunded.
  3. The Competition is required by law to deduct Withholding Tax from any prize money payments made to competitors not resident (for tax purposes) in the UK. However, the Competition has entered into a global agreement with the Foreign Entertainers Unit of the Inland Revenue for the deduction of certain expenses. A tax deduction certificate will be given to these competitors as proof of Withholding Tax paid, if a tax deduction is made. This can be used to claim credit from the tax authorities in the competitor’s country of residence. Further information will be available from the General Manager once a candidate has successfully passed the audition stage.
  4. Candidates who do not reach the final stage will be given an opportunity, if they so wish, to discuss their performances in private with members of the jury before the final stage takes place.
  5. The text of this document is available in English only.
  6. Please note that the First Prize winner will be required to remain in London on Thursday 12 September 2019 for possible media interviews.
  7. Each candidate, by signing the application form, agrees to be bound by all the rules of the Competition.
  8. All communications should be addressed by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to Ruth Wheal General Manager, Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, or by post to Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, London W1U 2BP UK.

Application Process and Requirements for Entry

Application Information and Required Documents

The deadline for applications is 12noon UK time on Friday 15 March 2019; all application forms, recommendations and additional material plus recorded selection stage MP3/WAVs must be received by the Competition General Manager by this date and time, either:

  • electronically via the use of an online FTP/cloud sharing service such as WeTransfer, Dropbox, Box or similar;
  • or posted at the competitor’s expense to the address below.
  • please DO NOT email application materials.

In order to apply to enter the Competition you must:

  • Pay your initial registration fee of £25 for each application, online by credit or debit card or by telephone to the Box Office on +44 (0)20 7935 2141.
  • If you do not already have an account with Wigmore Hall, please use the ‘New Account’ link at the top right hand corner of the page to create your account and to be able to pay the fee online. If you already have an account you can use your existing login customer details.
  • When you have submitted your registration fee, you will receive two separate emails; a receipt for your registration and another confirming your registration. If you do not receive an email confirming your registration after 24 hours, please email the General Manager, Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation Song Competition.

Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.

You must return your official application form and recording with the following required documents:

  • Singers: Completed application form. It is not necessary for pianists to send a separate form.
  • Singers and Pianists: A copy or scan of your passports confirming the candidate’s date and place of birth. NB: driving licences and ID cards are not acceptable.
  • Singers and Pianists: Curriculum vitae with particulars of general education and professional training together with details of recent concert appearances.
  • Singers and Pianists: One letter of recommendation each to the Invitation Jury from prominent musicians regarding this specific Competition.
  • Singers and Pianists: Certification of the CD/MP3/WAVs as the recent work of the named competitors (see rule 5).
  • An initial registration fee of £25 for each singer or duo, payable online by credit or debit card or by telephone to the Box Office on +44 (0)20 7935 2141. Please see Application Form for payment details. For candidates resident outside the UK please note that transfer, handling and bank charges are not included in this figure and must be paid by the candidate.

Once a candidate has been selected to proceed to Stage 2, the following will be required, submitted electronically or by post as for the initial application: :

  • A further entrance fee of £35, payable online or by telephone in the same way as the initial registration fee.
  • Biography of 100 words for inclusion in the programme which must cover the period up to September 2019.
  • Two recent high resolution colour photographs (minimum 1MB or 300dpi) of each artist suitable for reproduction in the programme. Please do not send photographs by post, they must be submitted electronically via the use of an online FTP/cloud sharing service such as WeTransfer, Dropbox, Box or similar.
  • If the services of a pianist are required, provided by the Competition, an additional £30 will be payable.
  • Full programmes for stages 2, 3 and 4 including timings, by Monday 5 June 2019 (see rule 14).
  • Confirmation of whether the accommodation provided by the Competition is required

All this information is available as a downloadable PDF

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