Brennan Alleyne and Alex Bradford win the Williams-Howard Prize

Tenor Brennan Alleyne and pianist Alex Bradford have won the third annual Williams-Howard Prize.

An internal prize award for RNCM singers and collaborative pianists, the Williams-Howard Prize promotes and celebrates the study and performance of arts songs of composers of the African diaspora.

Brennan Alleyne (tenor, right) and Alex Bradford (pianist, middle) with RNCM professor Michael Harper, founder of the Williams-Howard Prize.

Brennan Alleyne (tenor, right) and Alex Bradford (pianist, middle) with RNCM professor Michael Harper, founder of the Williams-Howard Prize.

The first of its kind in Europe, the prize, was established by internationally-renowned countertenor and RNCM professor Michael Harper, in honour of his grandfather Chester Ambrose Williams and teacher and mentor Helen Palmer Howard, who encouraged him to sing from an early age.

Brennan and Alex secured the £1200 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor First Prize with a programme featuring Roland Haye’s Lit’l Boy, Margaret Bonds’ He Never Said a Mumbl’in’ Word and Peter Ashbourne’s Long Time Gal.

Brennan said: ‘It was an honour to work with Alex to present this wonderful and important repertoire. This award is an energising, inspiring celebration of music and its power to touch people’s minds and hearts each year. Alex and I hope that this prize continues for a long time to come, so that more people can bring this repertoire forward into their programmes and careers.’

The £600 Avril Coleridge-Taylor Second Prize went to mezzo-soprano Merel-Magali Cox and pianist Marianne Huyang Yueyin and the £200 Amanda Ira Aldridge Honourable Mention, went to baritone James Connolly and pianist Marianne Huyang Yueyin. All prizes are divided equally between singer and pianist.

This year’s panel of adjudicators included Dr Louise Toppin, critically acclaimed coloratura soprano; Nadine Benjamin MBE, British lyric soprano; and Dr Nico de Villiers, Deputy Head of Vocal Studies at the RNCM.

In addition to financial prizes, first prize winners will receive a repertoire coaching session and recital at the Buxton International Festival this summer, with first and second prize winners also receiving a performance workshop at the Cooper Hall Foundation in Frome, Somerset.

Thank You

The competition has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Michael Harper, the Cooper Hall Foundation, Buxton International Festival, the RNCM, Antony Wiens Page, The RNCM Principal’s Circle and an anonymous donor. Thank you also to the many other donors who have helped make this competition possible.

18 March 2024