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The Glenarm Festival of Voice

The Glenarm Festival of Voice is our annual celebration of singing which usually takes place in the historic coastal village of Glenarm, Co. Antrim.

The festival features public recitals and events, including three concerts in partnership with and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and culminates in a vocal competition hosted by Northern Ireland Opera Patron and BBC Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty.

Singers from applicants across Ireland are chosen after submitting a recording and they spend four days working with top opera and song professionals including former Director of the National Opera Studio, Kathryn Harries, Simon Lepper, and Dr Ingrid Surgenor. 2021 saw a record number of entries from across the island of Ireland and six young opera singers were chosen as finalists – you can find out more about them by clicking in the link in the column on the left.

2021’s BBC Radio 3 recitals featured Ben McAteer (Baritone), Kathryn Rudge (mezzo soprano) and Louise Alder (soprano), each with Simon Lepper (piano). The recitals were broadcast in October 2021 and are available to listen to via these links until late November 2021.

  • Recital One: Harty, Boyle, Rachmaninov and Elaine Agnew: Listen here.
  • Recital Two: Reynaldo Hahn, Gerald Finzi, Roger Quilter and Mahler: Listen here.
  • Recital Three: Schumann, Delius and Strauss: Listen here.
  • Recital Four: Copland, Ned Rorem and Britten: Listen here.

The singers and pianists involved with the Glenarm Festival of Voice benefit from a highly focused experience and the opportunity to perform and make contacts with opera professionals. The winner of the competition is awarded the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize, and becomes the NI Opera Young Opera Voice for that year, also receiving a monetary prize which is crucial at the stage they are in their careers. There is also a monetary prize for the Audience Prize, decided by the audience’s votes. In 2021 for the first time there was a Song Prize, supported by The Priests Charitable Trust and presented by Fr Eugene O’Hagan of The Priests.

  • NI Opera Young Opera Voice 2021: Ellen Mawhinney
  • Audience Prize 2021: Katie Richardson McCrea
  • Song Prize 2021, sponsored by The Priests Charitable Trust: Caroline Behan
The Festival of Voice Finalists, 2021

The Peter Rankin Piano Internship is offered as part of the festival and each year a young pianist is chosen to work closely with the coaches and play for rehearsals and during the Irish song section of the competition finale.  The Peter Rankin Piano Intern for 2021 was Brendan Kennedy.

Performance highlights from the 2021 Festival of Voice Competition Finale will be available to view weekly on our YouTube channel from late October 2021.

The 11th Festival of Voice was held in Belfast but in common with every year in Glenarm, some of our Associate Artists with special guest Emma Morwood, who joined them from our ‘La Bohéme’ rehearsals, performed in a non-traditional opera venue for new audiences wanting to try out opera, often for the first time. ‘Puccini and a Pint’ was held in the Orpheus Ballroom on Hill Street in Belfast. When we are in Glenarm, this event is customarily held in The Londonderry Arms in Carnlough.

Click through our gallery below to see some images from previous Festivals over the last ten years.