Soprano Hilary Cronin wins First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2021 Handel Singing Competition

After a thrilling final, 29-year-old soprano Hilary Cronin won the £5000 First Prize and Audience Prize at the 2021 Handel Singing Competition last night.

Hilary Cronin impressed the judges with a performance which included works from Rinaldo, Semele and Brockes Passion alongside performances by baritone Kieran Rayner, mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallet and baritone Felix Kemp. All four finalists had the opportunity to sing with Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra in front of a live audience at St George’s, Hanover Square, London. The event was also live streamed on the London Handel Festival Youtube channel and Facebook page to music-lovers watching from home.

Click here to watch the finals

The jury for the Competition this year included Ian Partridge, Catherine Denley, Michael George, Tim Mead and Oliver Mears.

Bethany Horak-Hallett won the £2000 Second Prize. In addition to the cash prizes, the Competition supports the continuing professional development of the Finalists by offering them guaranteed performance opportunities at the London Handel Festival in the future.

Gregory Batsleer, the new Festival Director of the London Handel Festival, says: “The Handel Singing completion remains the jewel in the crown of the London Handel Festival. The standard across the entire competition has been one of the highest to date. Many congratulations to Hilary Cronin whose performance captivated us all who were there. We look forward to welcoming all finalists back to future festivals and watching their careers flourish. Nurturing the careers of young musicians is and will continue to be at the core of this festival’s mission. A huge thanks to all those particular individuals who supported this wonderful evening.”  

Laurence Cummings, Musical Director, says: “As ever its great privilege to work with such exceptional young singers, this year was no exception. As has been the case with all finalists of this competition,  I have no doubt that each of our finalists will go on to have careers of distinction. Particular congratulations to this year’s winner Hilary Cronin whose expression and commutation captured the true spirit of Handel.”

Hilary Cronin is a London-based soprano who trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and was a choral scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has sung lead roles for Grimeborn, Baroquestock, Spitalfields Music and The New Generation Festivals as well as covered roles for English Touring Opera and Nevill Holt Opera. Hilary has toured with The Monteverdi Choir, Arcangelo, Philharmonia Voices and the Dunedin Consort, and worked with the BBC Singers, London Voices, The Marian Consort and Sansara.

The Handel Singing Competition launched in 2002 and has since become an integral part of the London Handel Festival. The competition this year received nearly 200 applications from 22 countries, including Australia, Cuba, New Zealand, Panama and Ukraine. Previous finalists include Iestyn Davies, Lucy Crowe, Grace Davidson, Tim Mead, Christopher Ainslie, Rupert Charlesworth and Ruby Hughes.

The next Handel Singing Competition will take place in Spring 2022.

ABOVE: Hilary Cronin performing at the Handel Singing Competition © Chris Christodoulou