Only one woman in Kathleen Ferrier finals

Only one woman in Kathleen Ferrier finals


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2017

These are the singers and pianists selected for the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final, which takes place at Wigmore Hall on Friday 28 April. Francesca Chiejina, of the ROH’s Jette Parker programme, is the only female singer.

James Way & Natalie Burch*

Daniel Shelvey & Dylan Perez*

Patrick Terry & Somi Kim*

Julien Van Mellaerts & Gamal Khamis*

Eduard Mas Bacardit & Dylan Perez*

Francesca Chiejina & Dylan Perez*

*accompanist prize contestants


  • Delphine1962 says:

    Dear Norman, I read this and decided to look at the website for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and see for myself if there was anything which might constituate gender bias.

    The description of the history of the Awards and the remit statement mention nothing other than the fact that the Awards are intended to support gifted young singers and accompanists, regardless of gender or voice-type.

    Furthermore, four out of the ten named trustees – including the chairperson – are female (among them two highly admired former winners of the Award), and so is the administrator. I also note that listed previous winners of the Awards – at least since 2001 – have comprised an even mixture of male and female singers; in 2014,I read that there were only female finalists.

    I am aware that gender bias does exist in the music profession, and that sometimes this needs to be revealed; I am tremendously grateful to you that your generally veryvaluable site is a place where one can read of such injustices (and others), but I feel that in this case I have to disagree with your strong implication that there is bias.

    The Katheleen Ferrier Award is a very important institution, dedicated to the memory of an exceptional, luminscent musician, whose great gifts – at least to my way of thinking – do not generate from the fact that she was a woman; she was an artist. Perhaps the tragic nature of her illness and death, at a time when so little could be done to treat breat cancer – should be highlighted – and I fully support that this is something connected very strongly with such issues, but this Award seems to me to celebrate the artist and these gifted singers who continue to benefit from it.

  • Malcolm James says:

    Having one woman out of six in the final on a single occasion is within the realms of normal random variation, particularly if, as Delphine1962 says, the finalists in 2014 were all female. However, when 21 finalists out of 22 in the Yehudi Menuhin prize were female, Tasmin Little saw it as a cause for celebration.

  • Una says:

    What a load of nonsense! If the women aren’t good enough, why should they be in the finals?

    My own teacher, Neil Howlett, won that competition many years ago.

  • Martin Robeson says:

    So who won this year?

  • James says:

    Baritone Julien Van Mellaerts won this year.

  • Elizabeth Muir-Lewis says:

    I do hope that this modern gender debate stays out of the singing business. Any vocal competition chooses the best regardless of sex. Anyway, the business has never, in my experience, had a problem, as both genders are inevitably needed. Add to the mix counter tenors, and you have a bit of a conundrum, as they mostly sing what are female roles.
    Interesting, but let’s not start that!
    Elizabeth Muir-Lewis (The Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks vocal award at the Royal Academy of Music)