NEW! Grace Bumbry and Xian Zhang Join Jury for Cardiff Singer of the World 2017

21/10/2016

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BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017

Grace Bumbry and Xian Zhang will join Thomas Quasthoff, Sumi Jo and Chair David Pountney as jury members for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 competition.

“This is the most exciting and diverse mix of musicians and experts we’ve had in the competition’s 30 year history,” says David Jackson, Artistic Director of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, “I’m honoured that they have all agreed to take part in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017.”

Grace Bumbry is one of the leading opera voices of her generation. After studying in Boston, Chicago, and Santa Barbara, California, Bumbry made her opera debut at the age of 23. She has performed around the world and mastered the great mezzo-soprano and soprano roles in the classical opera repertoire in a career that spans over 50 years. Grace will join the jury for the Main Prize and Song Prize competitions which are broadcast on television, radio and online.

Xian Zhang was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales – the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra. She is Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi and recently appointed Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Recent operatic engagements include English National Opera and her debut with Den Norske Opera. In the summer of 2016, Xian made her debut with the Savolinna Opera Festival, following her hugely successful Welsh National Opera production of Nabucco. She will join the Main Prize jury.

Grace Bumbry and Xian Zhang will join the competition’s patron Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and fellow jury members for the eight day competition, which will now take place 11-18 June 2017.

On the panel for the Song Prize competition, alongside Chair David Pountney, will be Director of Wigmore Hall and Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society John Gihooly and Ailish Tynan, winner of the 2003 Song Prize. Grace Bumbry and Thomas Quasthoff will also join them on the Song Prize jury.

Grace Bumbry says, “I’m very pleased to be joining the jury of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, and looking forward to hearing the talented young singers who come to Cardiff next June. It will be an interesting addition to the other events planned for my 80th birthday year!”

Xian Zhang says, “Competitions like BBC Cardiff Singer of the World are the best way to be recognised as a young artist, and are really important for discovering new talent. I’ve conducted a lot of opera and know that singers consider it to be an honour to be part of this great competition; I look forward to being on the jury and finding the next great voice.”

During the competition, all competitors perform their choice of music in front of the distinguished jury at St David’s Hall, Cardiff accompanied either by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Thomas Søndergård, or the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, conducted by Tomáš Hanus. The Song Prize, awarded to the best singer of Lieder and art song, takes place in the Dora Stoutzker Hall at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. The singers will be accompanied by Simon Lepper and Llŷr Williams, and the Song Prize Final takes place at St David’s Hall.

Highlights and extensive coverage of all the rounds and more are broadcast on television, radio and online.

Established in 1983 by BBC Wales’ then Head of Music, J Mervyn Williams, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World was devised to identify the classical singing stars of the future, and the ambition is to deliver the lucky break all artists need to get them launched on the road to success. Past winners include the very first winner Karita Mattila, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anja Harteros, Jamie Barton, and the 2015 winner Nadine Koutcher.

For more information see bbc.co.uk/cardiffsinger.

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