Bryony Williams Wins Strauss Prize

Postgraduate soprano Bryony Williams has won the 2013 Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss.

The annual competition, open to fourth year and postgraduate singers, was established by Joyce and Michael Kennedy 13 years ago with the intention of encouraging students to explore Strauss’s Lieder and incorporate it into their repertoire.

Dame Felicity Lott, who adjudicated the competition alongside Michael Kennedy and Thomas Schulze, RNCM Tutor in Vocal Studies, said: ‘The standard was very high and we were impressed with several singers. They had all worked extremely hard and their presentation was excellent. Some of the singing was absolutely outstanding and it was difficult to choose but we thought that on the night Bryony sang Strauss beautifully with a lovely creamy voice. She looked super and also made the audience relax, which is one of the most important things. It was stunning.’

When the Award was established the winner’s prize was £750. This year, thanks to the continuous generosity of many donors, Bryony – a Leverhulme Scholar – walked away with £5000, which will aid her studies during 2013/14 when she works towards an RNCM International Artist Diploma, the highest award offered by the College for solo performance.

On winning, Bryony, who sang An die Nacht Op 68 No 1, Epheu Op 22 No 3, Allerseelen Op 10 No 8 and O wie gerne blieb ich bei dir from the opera Daphne Op 82, said: ‘I’m totally thrilled to be named this year’s winner of the Strauss Award; I’m still waiting for it to sink in! It was a wonderful experience singing for Dame Felicity, Thomas and Michael, and for such a supportive and esteemed audience. It’s fantastic being part of an evening that focuses on the beautiful music of Strauss. Joyce and Michael Kennedy have created a very special competition for the RNCM and I am so grateful for their support.’

Dame Felicity added: ‘Financially, awards like these are vital for students. When I was studying we were so lucky in that things didn’t cost quite so much, but this competition in particular focuses on the Lieder repertoire and it was lovely to see so many students in the audience. It was super – everyone would learn from it. The department is very happy and flourishing and I was best impressed with it.’

The day proved even more special for the School of Vocal Studies as another Dame, mezzo-soprano Dame Felicity Palmer, was also at the RNCM, presenting performance classes and giving vocal coaching to students.

Lynne Dawson, Head of the School, said: ‘We were delighted to welcome two British Dames into the RNCM on the same day; Dames Felicity Lott and Dame Felicity Palmer. We ask our students to work at the highest possible level for their age and experience and to have such wonderful guests working with them is something for which we are extremely grateful. Our aim is to develop generous, affecting, professional singers who are also wonderful musicians (and have fun too) and the students could have no finer examples.’

7 March 2013