Just in: BBC gives Cardiff Singer streaming to Austrian firm

Just in: BBC gives Cardiff Singer streaming to Austrian firm


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2015

For reasons that could probably fill two whole episodes of W1A, the BBC has let an Austrian company organise the live-streaming of one of its most prestigious music productions, the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

This will be Cardiff’s first screening outside the UK.

It may well be that the BBC, which used to be in the forefront of broadcast innovation, felt that its constitution, governance and technology did not permit it to undertake live-streaming on the internet. Or it may just be another example of the BBC’s inability under Tony Hall to tie its own shoelaces without spending a year in committee.

Either way, it’s a tremendous coup for Vienna-based Sonostream, who say:

cardiff singers


For anyone who can’t make it to Wales this month, Sonostream.tv will be offering the first international broadcast outside the UK of one of the opera world’s most prestigious events: the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. The competition has launched the careers of major artists such as Bryn Terfel, Karita Mattila, Anja Harteros, Dmitry Hvorostovsky and Valentina Nafornita.

‘Every two years, a new star is born. Over 300 young singers from around the world applied to participate in the current edition, but only twenty artists were selected to perform with orchestra at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, Wales. You can follow the first four rounds via Sonostream every evening at 7:30PM GMT from June 16-19.

‘Then tune in for a live broadcast of the final round on June 21, featuring five promising singers. The winner will take home not just a cash prize and the Cardiff Trophy but sing a planned world premiere by composer John Lunn in 2016. In what will no doubt be the start of a major career.

‘Parallel to the main competition, there is also the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize, in which singers perform art songs to piano accompaniment at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and St. David’s Hall.   Sonostream brings you exclusive access to the final on June 20.’


UPDATE: Here’s the BBC’s press release, rippling with WIA jargon:

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World returns from 14 – 21 June to showcase the world’s most promising classical singing talent. As they take to the stage in the Welsh capital to compete for the coveted title, the 20 singers will not only be seen and heard across the BBC on television, Radio 3 and online but for the first time anyone in the world can sign up to watch all the BBC broadcasts following a new partnership with subscription service sonostream.tv


As well as making the world class performances available internationally, the partnership means even better value for UK audiences, with the BBC reinvesting revenue from the deal back into home-grown programming and content.


The biennial competition known throughout the classical music world as the premier showcase for opera and recital singers at the start of their careers is in its 32nd year, with David Jackson as Artistic Director for the first time.

David Jackson commented, ‘We’re really keen to make the best use of the licence fee and for many years we’ve had requests from music-lovers all over the world asking if they can see the competition for themselves. Now, for the first time, I’m absolutely delighted to be able to say Yes – if you have online access, Cardiff Singer can be yours to watch and enjoy. And with the value of the partnership reinvested into BBC programmes, it’s great news for UK audiences who love BBC content.’


  • Jon says:

    This deal is about making these programmes available outside the UK.

    The BBC will of course be streaming both the song prize final and the main final on the internet in the UK using its existing resource, BBC iPlayer. I believe that the iPlayer is not available outside the UK for copyright reasons (unless you have access to a proxy server).

    It is probably easier to do a one-off deal with Sonostream than make the Iplayer available worldwide for just two programmes.