2020 Competition

London Handel Festival - 2020 Competition

We were pleased to have proceeded on Wednesday 2 December with the Final of the 2020 Handel Singing Competition, which we had to postpone from earlier in year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.  We live streamed the event in line with current UK lockdown guidelines and it is still available to view on our YouTube channel and you can also download the programme.

Here are the final results.

Winner of Carne Trust Prize (first) – JEROME KNOX Baritone

Winner of second prize, supported by Prof Schumann Gmbh – MORGAN PEARSE Baritone

Joint winners of Audience Prize – JESSICA CALE Soprano & MORGAN PEARSE

Winners of Finalists Prizes, supported by an endowment gift in memory of Howard & Nan Hopkin – RUAIRI BOWEN Tenor & JESSICA CALE


Ian Partridge
Catherine Denley
Michael George

Mhairi Lawson – Semi-Final; Christian Curnyn (Director, Early Opera Company) – Semi-Final

David Pickard – Final

We are very grateful to Prof Schumann GmbH for their sponsorship of this event.   Here is a statement from Robert Meters, their Head of Marketing & Sales, Financial Services & Global Business.

“This year the Handel Singing Competition is under the very special impression of the Corona Pandemic. Artists and cultural workers are particularly hard hit during this time. It is therefore all the more important that the young singers are able to present their extraordinary skills again this year.  Admirable is also the unconditional will of all finalists, even in difficult times, to bring the uniqueness of music to the people and to commit themselves to a vibrant, diverse cultural life. In times of crisis, people become more sensitive to their own view of the important things in life and how they relate to each other. In Handel’s music the diversity of human existence becomes audible and tangible. How wonderful that we are allowed to participate in the musical performances at the Handel Festival.

As a sponsor, we feel obliged to make a contribution so that young musicians enjoy recognition and support on their professional path. The Handel Singing Competition is a great opportunity to compete with other talented and hard working singers. But the competition also shows that musicians are subject to audience judgement at every performance. A very intensive preparation before each performance is necessary and this alone demands the respect of the audience.  And yet there is a magic in Handel’s music that captures the audience and makes the singers an immediate and indispensable part of the whole. Therein lies the special nature of the finalists’ art.

We wish all singers and musicians every success and much success in their future careers.”





Congratulations to the following singers who have made it through to the Semi-Final!

ELSPETH MARROW Mezzo-soprano
JUSTIN SCHÜTZ Countertenor
MEILI LI Countertenor
JOHN LEE Bass-baritone

Key Dates for 2020
  • 6 – 8 February – First Round (Craxton Studios)
  • 6 March – Semi-Final (St.George’s, Hanover Square)
  • 26 March – Final (St.George’s, Hanover Square)

Further details about the Competition can be found below, and by clicking 2020 HSC_NOTES FOR SINGERS.


The Handel Singing Competition was inaugurated in 2002 and has grown to become a major international singing event, attracting some 150 applicants from all over the world in recent years. Ian Partridge and James Bowman were the first adjudicators, and past finalists include Iestyn Davies, Ruby Hughes, Lucy Crowe, Tim Mead, Sophie Junker, Anna Starushkevych and Grace Davidson.

The 2020 Competition will comprise a preliminary round of reviewing files sent digitally, and then the first “live” round at Craxton Studios.  Then follows the Semi-Final with approximately 12-15 singers accompanied by harpsichord, and then the Final with 5 or 6 singers who are accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra, conducted by Laurence Cummings.  Both the Semi-Final and Final will be held at St George’s, Hanover Square (Handel’s own church) and are open to the general public as part of the annual London Handel Festival.  These events are well attended, including by many agents and promoters.  All competitors are required to submit all-Handel programmes at each stage.  Further details about repertoire will be available at the time of application.


First Prize: £5000
Second Prize: £2000
Audience Prize: £300
Finalist Prizes: £300

All Finalists in the Handel Singing Competition are guaranteed recitals in the 2021 London Handel Festival, and many past finalists are also asked to perform solos in other prestigious concerts during the Festival, and in other concerts and recitals both in the UK and abroad.  For example, the 2019 London Handel Festival featured no fewer than 20 past Finalists and there are also recent Finalists performing at the Handel Festivals both in Goettingen and Halle.  The winner of this year’s competition has also been invited to perform the solos in Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral Society, under the direction of Jane Glover, and also a prestigious recital with the City Music Society.

Age Limit

23 to 34 years old as of 1 February 2020 i.e. you must be at least 23 years old and no older than 34 on this date.