The fourth round of the Helen Wareham Competition on February 24th saw three senior singers go through to the next round. Such was the quality of the nine vocalists that the chair of the adjudicators, Catherine Beddison, also gave an honourable mention to Teresa Yoon for her Mozart aria. There were, too, some in the audience who were so taken with Jonathan Oldfield’s ‘Total Eclipse’ (Handel) that they would have wished for more than three singers performing again in the final. And, of course, such is the depth of singing talent (under a number of distinguished singing coaches) at Cranleigh these days, that there were many fine voices who did not even take part in this first round.
The three who won through were Charlotte Bradbrook, Henry Harrod and Tom Hollister. The first sang Poulenc’s beautiful ‘Fleurs’ with exquisite languor; Henry gave us a sturdy Michael Head song; and Tom ended a wonderful evening with Don Ottavio’s ‘Dalla Sua Pace’, done with perfect poise and rare beauty of tone. Both vocal classes benefited from the sensitive support of the three pianists: Marie Ward, Philip Scriven and Richard Saxel.
The seven juniors also impressed the packed audience in the MMS. Third prize was awarded to Phoebe Bagge for a masterful rendition of a lovely song by Armstrong Gibbs and second was Theo Golden, who sang Fauré’s adorable ‘Les Berceaux’ with an even tone and lyrical line that I have rarely, if ever, heard from so young a male tenor. He may even be a genuine baryton-martin one day, provided he works on his French pronunciation! The winner was Noah Frett who gave us a very idiomatic Sportin’ Life from ‘Porgy and Bess’: this had humour, pizzazz and also subtlety. In past years and also in other schools one might expect more singing prizes to go to girls than boys but Noah, Theo (and Tom and Henry) proved that it ain’t necessarily so.