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The Glenarm Festival of Voice

The Glenarm Festival of Voice is our annual celebration of singing which 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.

The 14th Festival of Voice will take place in Glenarm from 23rd to 25th August 2024.

Applications are now open for singers aged 18-28, born on the island of Ireland and pursuing voice at third level or opera as a career to enter the Vocal Competition and also for a pianist born on the island of Ireland and between 18-28 to apply for a position as a Piano Intern for the Festival. Find out more here.

BBC Radio 3 Recitals

The BBC Radio 3 recitals are free and open to members of the public to come and watch and listen in St Patrick’s Church. These three recitals are recorded live by BBC Radio 3 and subsequently edited into four lunchtime concerts which are broadcast nationally on BBC Radio 3 a few weeks after the festival.

The BBC Radio 3 Recital theme for 2023 was From the Salons of Great Women and featured mezzo soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons, tenor Robin Tritschler and baritone James Atkinson with pianist Simon Lepper who also curates the series. These recitals were broadcast as the Lunchtime Concerts on BBC Radio 3 in September 2023.

Vocal Competition

Singers are chosen from applications from across the island of Ireland after submitting a recording and they spend four days working with top opera and song professionals who in 2023 were Simon Lepper, Dr Ingrid Surgenor, Professor Mark Wildman and baritone Ben McAteer – the first ever winner of the competition in 2010.

The singers and pianists involved with the Glenarm Festival of Voice competition 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. The judges also choose the winner of the Song Prize, sponsored by The Priests Charitable Foundation, and the audience vote for the winner of the Kathryn Harries Audience Prize.

The 2023 Finalists were sopranos Anna Gregg and Petra Wells, mezzo soprano Anna-Helena Maclachlan, tenor Cathal McCabe and baritone Ryan Garnham, with Doireann O’Carroll joining them as the Peter Rankin Piano Intern. Pianist Tristan Russcher accompanied the arias and ensemble pieces with Doireann O’Carroll accompanying the Irish Song section.

You can read all their biographies by clicking on the link on the sidebar to the left.

The singers performed the following repertoire:

  • Caro Bella – Giulio Cesare, Handel (Petra Wells and Anna-Helena Maclachlan)
  • Aprite un po’ quegl occhi – Le Nozze de Figaro, Mozart (Ryan Garnham)
  • PIangero la sorte mia – Giulio Cesare – Handel (Anna Gregg)
  • Bester Jungling – Der Spieldirektor – Mozart (Petra Wells)
  • Tous les trois – La Fille due Regiment – Donizetti (Anna Gregg, Cathal McCabe, Ryan Garnham)
  • Polina’s Aria – The Queen of Spades – Tchaikovsky (Anna-Helena Maclachlan)
  • Una Furtiva – L’elisir d’amore – Donizetti (Cathal McCabe)
  • Ah lo Sento – Il Pirata – Bellini (Anna Gregg and Ryan Garnham)
  • A Man who would woo a Fair Maid – Gilbert and Sullivan – The Yeoman of the Guard (Petra Wells, Anna-Helena Maclachlan, Cathal McCabe)
  • Wee Hughie – Dorothy Parke (Petra Wells)
  • Flower of Magherally – Traditional (Ryan Garnham)
  • Evening – EJ Moeran (Anna Gregg)
  • Star of the County Down – arr. Hughes (Cathal McCabe)
  • Lake Isle of Innisfree – Muriel Herbert (Anna-Helena Maclachlan)

Anna Gregg won the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize, Cathal McCabe won the Song Prize and Anna-Helena Maclachlan won the Kathryn Harries Audience Prize. Find out more here.

L-R Cathal McCabe, Petra Wells, Anna-Helena Maclachlan, Peter Rankin Piano Intern Doireann O’Carroll, Anna Gregg, Ryan Garnham.

Discover more about the five finalists for 2023 and the Peter Rankin piano intern for 2023 in the column on the left.

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. 

Outreach Programme

Outreach activities in the form of creative and musical workshops are an integral part of the Festival, with the ‘Singing Explorers’ having been a feature of the festival for a number of years. In 2023 the workshops took place in Seaview Integrated Primary School on Saturday 26th August.

The theme for 2023 was Music, Magic and Mystery and you can find out all about the day’s events by clicking here.

Here are some images from the 2022 Outreach Events in the stableyard in Glenarm Castle.

Each year on the Saturday of the festival, an afternoon recital takes place in the historic Londonderry Arms Hotel in the next-door village of Carnlough. This usually features a past winner of the Festival and in 2023 we welcomed back soprano Hannah O’Brien to perform from 3-4pm. Hannah was winner of the Song Prize at the 2022 Festival of Voice.

Patrons of The Glenarm Festival of Voice

Patrons: The Earl and Countess of Antrim

Vice-Patron: Ben McAteer, baritone and winner of the first Glenarm Festival of Voice in 2010.

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