Independent Opera

We are delighted to welcome Independent Opera as sponsor of our International Song Competition from 2019. Independent Opera’s relationship with the Wigmore Hall dates back 10 years to its first Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship awarded to bass Matthew Rose. He was selected from the participants of 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. Seeing the need to bridge the gap between raw talent and a professional career, co-founders William and Judith Bollinger, together with Alessandro Talevi, devised a series of initiatives to support young and talented artists. IO mounted its first production – Rossini’s La Scala di Seta – directed by Alessandro Talevi, within the year and, two years later, launched its comprehensive Artist Support scheme. To date IO Artist Support has provided professional mentoring support together with funds worth more than £750,000 to 110 artists in the fields of singing, directing, design, choreography and production. William and Judith Bollinger were recognised as Philanthropists of the Year at the 2016 International Opera Awards.

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.

Ralph Kohn  cMauriceFutermanSir 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'.

Honorary Patrons

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