William and Judith Bollinger
We are delighted that the headline sponsors of the 2021 and 2023 Song Competitions will be William and Judith Bollinger, with whom Wigmore Hall has a long and fruitful relationship. This new sponsorship will enable them to continue their support for young singers.
Independent Opera sponsored our International Song Competition in 2019. Independent Opera’s relationship with Wigmore Hall dates back to 2009 when its first Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship was awarded to bass Matthew Rose. He was selected from participants in the biennial Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and auditioned by Independent Opera’s Creative Director Natalie Murray Beale. Subsequent Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowships have been awarded to Gaëlle Arquez, Clara Mouriz, Dominik Köninger, Anna Huntley, James Newby and Peter Kellner.
Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells was founded in 2005 to support outstanding young artists in every discipline of opera. Recognizing the need to bridge the gap between raw talent and a professional career, co-founders Bill and Judy Bollinger, together with opera director Alessandro Talevi, devised a series of initiatives offering both financial and mentoring support. In addition to innovative productions at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells, its commissioning of new works, and the giving of one-off grants, central to Independent Opera’s existence has been their comprehensive Artist Support programme headed by Creative Director Natalie Murray Beale. Since its launch in 2007, Independent Opera Artist Support has given 157 awards to over 120 individuals in the fields of singing, directing, design, choreography and production, a total investment of over £850,000.
After 15 years of generously supporting the arts - for which they were recognized as 2016 Philanthropists of the Year by the International Opera Awards – William and Judith Bollinger have made the decision to close Independent Opera at the end of 2020. The company's final event will be held at Wigmore Hall on 15 October 2020 when Independent Opera will showcase its 2019-20 Vocal Scholars. A short documentary film and digital archive of Independent Opera’s work including learning resources are currently being prepared and will be made available to charities, opera companies and educational establishments who support aspiring young artists.
The Kohn Foundation
Sir Ralph Kohn, long-standing friend of Wigmore Hall, and co-founder and benefactor of our International Song Competition, sadly passed away on Friday 11 November 2016. Sir Ralph believed passionately in supporting young musicians and helping them to explore their innate gifts. He noted how the art of Lieder singing, which goes far beyond surface displays of technical prowess and vocal athleticism, amounts to the truest measure of a singer's artistic evolution.
Lieder and song show not only the subtleties of the voice but also open windows onto the subtleties of a performer's soul. To interpret a Schubert Lied with the widest range of nuances and shadings of expression is, in my view, more demanding and rewarding than any other form of singing.
There is an attention to detail about what we are doing – from the composition of the jury and the quality of advice given to contestants to the focus on repertoire breadth and artistic depth – which I believe makes this a unique event in the world of song.Sir Ralph Kohn
The Kohn Foundation was established in 1991 by Sir Ralph Kohn to provide financial support for scientific and medical research, in innovation, the arts, education and humanitarian aid. The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition has been fortunate enough to enjoy total financial support from the Foundation since the competition was set up in 1997.
Sir Ralph Kohn was a medical scientist and musician. He obtained his PhD at Manchester University and subsequently spent some years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Health in Rome, working and publishing with two Nobel Laureates. After a further research year at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, he joined the pharmaceutical industry as a Senior Executive in Research & Development, and subsequently Management. He established the first Independent Medical Research Organisation in the UK for the clinical evaluation of new drugs and received the Queen's Award. He received many scientific honours and awards, including Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS), Academy of Medical Sciences, British Pharmacological Society and European Academy and Doctor of Science.
Sir Ralph was awarded the Medal of Honour of the City of Leipzig by the Lord Mayor in June 2011 for his substantial contributions to the music of JS Bach. He was knighted in 2010 for 'Services to Science, Music and Charity'.
- Dame Janet Baker
- Barbara Bonney
- Christine Brewer
- Joyce DiDonato
- Dame Anne Evans
- Ann Murray DBE
- Thomas Quasthoff
- András Schiff
- Peter Schreier