Slipped Disc editorial: A music competition that blanks out most of the world

Slipped Disc editorial: A music competition that blanks out most of the world


norman lebrecht

May 22, 2014

We reported earlier that there were no US or UK finalists in the Reine Elisabeth singing competition in Brussels. There are no Australians, Canadians or Africans, either. No Russians. No East Europeans.

What kind of ‘international’ competition is that?

Are we to believe that the greatest concentration of singing talent is now to be found in South Korea and… er, Belgium?

Apparently no Americans applied and only one Brit put in, deterred by the high cost and the likelihood of a warped verdict.

A observer tells us: It is very obvious that the jury has made some funny decisions. From the beginning there were singers with really bad pitch coming through, singers who had trouble getting to the end of their arias, but were pretty young women. Some of the competitors pumped the press with PR-driven interviews so that the audience applauded them frenetically even before they sang.

It cannot be coincidence that of 12 finalists three are Belgians , and two more study in Brussels.

Small-town stuff, then. Not really an international competition.

reine elisabeth




  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    So much of what happens in Belgium is small-town stuff. That’s what happens when the power base is tiny. Check out Rhode Island’s mayoral history around the nineties, for example…

  • Max Grimm says:

    Any competition that lists the egregious Serge Dorny as member of the jury has definitely made some “funny decisions”. Slight correction Norman, there were actually 3 Americans (two and a half technically, one was German-American) who were candidates in the first round; none advanced past the first round however.
    The only music competition I enjoy watching is the ARD International Music Competition, which I personally believe is and always has been very transparent and truly international.

  • Rainer Koehl says:

    I agree completely! The decision of this doubtful Jury was a big shame. Corruption, personal relationships made their complot. The best singers were thrown out, so that the poor belgium singers shouldn’t have any strong concurrents when it goes to the final round. It’s reallly a big, big scandal !!!