Whether you agree or disagree with classical music competitions, they can provide a platform for young musicians to showcase their talent. Some musicians have voiced their concerns about them (read this article by cellist, Steven Isserlis). But for those who want to play professionally, the publicity and performance opportunities can be valuable to launching a musical career. (Read this post on How to Succeed in Music Competitions if you want some top tips).
Here, we take a look at the main 2022 classical music competitions in the UK. (Please refer to the relevant websites for full details and application forms. We cannot be held responsible for changes in deadlines/dates etc., particularly with dates being rescheduled due to COVID). For younger musicians, there are many excellent local festivals that offer the opportunity to perform and get valuable feedback. Check out the London Young Musician which is an online international seasonal music competition for young musicians under age 28. It opens to all classical musical instruments and vocal.
BBC Young Musician of the Year 2022
This biennial classical music competition, which is broadcast on BBC television and BBC Radio 3, is open to percussion, keyboard, string, brass and woodwind players, who are residents of the UK.
Deadline for entries: 17th December 2021. The competition’s first rounds will be held in March 2022.
Age Limit: applicants must be 18 or under on 1st January 2022.
Prizes: Each category winner will receive a prize of £1000, a trophy and a place in the BBC Young Musician Semi-Final. The winner of the Grand Final will receive a prize of £3000, a trophy, and the title BBC Young Musician 2022.
Full details: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3RSyRqD5y9QXlR38g0p5JX1/how-to-enter-bbc-young-musician-2022
Handel Singing Competition
George Frideric Handel was known to encourage and train young, unestablished singers, many of whom rose to fame as his star soloists. The London Handel Festival continues Handel’s great tradition of nurturing talent through their international Handel Singing Competition, which is presented as part of the annual London Handel Festival.
Deadline for entries: 28th January 2022. The competition’s first round will be held in February 2022.
Age limit: 23 to 34 years old as of 1 February 2022.
Prizes: First Prize: £5000; Second Prize: £2000; Audience Prize: £300; Finalist Award: £300
Full details: https://www.london-handel-festival.com/whats-on/2022-competition/
Only Stage International Conducting Competition
This online competition is open to musicians of any nationality. The jury will be composed by conductors, artistic directors and general managers of the following institutions: City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra (Japan), Real Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla (Spain), Beethoven Orchester Bonn (Germany), George Enescu Festival (Romania), Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (Italy), MAV Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Magna Grecia Orchestra (Italy), and Royal College of Music (UK).
Deadline for entries: 31st December 2021.
Age limit: No age limit
Prizes: First Prize: £2,000, Second Prize: £1,500, Third Prize: £1,000 plus concert opportunities
Full Details: http://www.onlystage.co.uk/only-stage-launches-its-first-international-conducting-competition/
Wigmore Hall/Bollinger International Song Competition 2022.
Celebrating the art of the song recital and honouring the Lied’s place at the heart of the genre, this biennial competition has grown in status and prestige, and continues to attract singers and pianists from around the world who are keen to embark on significant recital careers.
Deadline for entries: Applications open on October 25th 2021 and will close on April 28th 2022. The competition itself will take place between Saturday 3rd – Wednesday 7th September 2022.
Age limit: Both singers and pianists must be aged 34 or under on Saturday 3rd September 2022.
Watch an introduction to the competition:
The competition has four solo awards for Keyboard, Strings, Wind/Brass/Percussion and Singers, the winners of which compete for the Competition Gold Medal and First Prize. The solo awards are open to musicians from the UK, Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries, as well as from the USA, all EU and EEA countries and Switzerland.
Deadline for entries: 5pm on 6th January 2022.
Age limit: up to and including the age of 30.
Prizes: The competition offers more than £75,000 in awards with a £15,000 first prize for solo performers and two chamber ensemble awards of £10,000. The winners of the Wind & Brass, Singers, Strings, and Keyboard solo sections and the collaborative piano prize receive £5,000 each.
Full details: https://www.rosl.org.uk/amc/for-applicants
National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award
The National Centre for Early Music and BBC Radio 3 are calling for aspiring composers to create a new piece (3-4 minutes long) for string quartet, the Consone Quartet. Composers are invited to create a piece that evokes the sound world of one of the quartet’s favourite composers, Fanny Mendelssohn.
Deadline for entries: composers interested in entering the award must register their interest via an online form by 12 noon on 18th February 2022. The completed application form, along with your uploaded score should be submitted by 12 noon on 18th March 2022.
Age limit: Entry is open to all UK residents aged up to 25 at the time entry closes on 18 February 2022.
Prizes: The winning piece(s) will be performed by the Consone Quartet in a public concert at Boughton Aluph church, Kent, as part of Stour Music. BBC Radio 3 will record the concert for future broadcast.
Full details: https://www.youngcomposersaward.co.uk/
Kathleen Ferrier Awards Competition 2022
The competition is open to singers of any nationality who, on or before 1 February 2022, have completed at least one year of a continuous higher education course in music at a recognised conservatoire or music school in the UK or Republic of Ireland (RoI) or who have completed the equivalent year of continuous study in the UK or RoI with a recognised vocal coach; they must also be currently resident in the UK or RoI.
Deadline for entries: 1st February 2022.
The competition will start with preliminary rounds held in March 2022.
Age limit: All singers must be 28 or under on 22 April 2022.
Prizes: As well as a first prize of £12,500 and a second prize of £6,000, there is the Ferrier Loveday Song Prize of £5,000 and the Help Musicians UK Accompanists Prize of £5,000.
Full details: https://ferrierawards.org.uk/2021-competition/
Tunbridge Wells International Music Competition
This prestigious competition, held every other year, provides a platform for outstanding young musicians. There are currently three sections – piano, strings and wind.
Deadline for entries: 12 noon on 15th February 2022. The competition will take place during the week beginning 25th April 2022.
Age limit: competitors must be aged 16 or over and not more than 27 years old on 1st May 2022.
Prizes: the overall winner will be selected from one of the section winners and will receive: the TWIMC crystal trophy, £2000 in addition to their section prize of £1500, performance opportunity at the Mayfield Festival in 2024. The winner of each section will receive a cash prize of £1500 and a recital opportunity at St Martin-in-the-Fields, or a venue of similar standing in London. The second prize winner in each section will receive £1000, and the third prize winner in each section £500. There will also be an audience prize, and other performance opportunities.
Full details: https://twimc.org.uk/competitors/competition/
London International Choral Conducting Competition
This is the UK’s first competition dedicated to choral conducting. It supports emerging choral conductors and provides a platform for collaboration in the choral community.
Deadline for entries: the application date has not yet been released; however, the competition is scheduled to take place in October 2022.
Age limit: between 19 and 32 years of age
Prizes: First Prize: £5000; Second Prize: £1000; Additional special prizes from the competition sponsors.
Full details: https://www.liccc.co.uk/
Birmingham International Piano Competition
The Birmingham International Piano Competition remains committed to the art of the piano recital, and provides young pianists the chance to further their careers and perform in world class venues.
Deadline for entries: the opening date of receipt of applications will be announced soon for 2022.
Age Limit: applicants must be aged 18 – 28 on 7th May 2022
Prizes: First Prize: £3000, plus a recital engagement; Second Prize: £2000; Third Prize: £1000; Audience Prize: £500.
Full details: http://www.bipcomp.co.uk/entry-details.html
Wigmore Hall/International String Quartet Competition 2022
The Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition (formerly The London International String Quartet Competition) embraces the entire string quartet tradition and requires contestants to perform Classical, Romantic and contemporary repertoire.
Wigmore Hall has announced that due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the decision has been taken to postpone the 2021 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition until April 2022 (April 5th- 10th).
Deadline for entries: applications are now closed.
Age limit: under 35.
Prizes: First Prize: £10,000; Second Prize: £6000; Third Prize £3000. There are other special prizes awarded too.
Full details: https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/string-quartet-competition/wigmore-hall-international-string-quartet-competition
Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition
This event was founded in 1993 by the late Evelyn Barbarolli, an outstanding oboist. The festival, now based in the Erin Arts Centre, Isle of Man, attracts competitors from as far away as Australia, China and the United States.
The 5th Barbirolli Festival was due to be held from March 28th to April 4th 2020, but was cancelled due to Covid-19. The next competition will now take place in March 2023.
Prizes: First prize is £4,000 and a London recital; second prize is £2,000; third prize is £1,000. There will be other subsidiary prizes.
Full details: http://www.erinartscentre.com/oboe.html
The Leeds Competition
The Leeds is a triennial piano competition which has launched the careers of many famous pianists including Andras Schiff and Murray Perahia. It is open to pianists from all round the world.
Deadline for entries: applications are now closed. The next competition will take place from 4-14th September 2024.
Age limit: 30 and under.
Prizes: a prize package including: worldwide management with Askonas Holt, a debut recording with Warner Classics, recitals at Wigmore Hall and the Southbank in London, tours of Europe and the Far East in association with Steinway & Sons, broadcast opportunities with the BBC and an extensive package of national and international engagements with a range of promoters and orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Full details: https://www.leedspiano.com/2021-competition/
JMIPC – RNCM James Mottram International Piano Competition
Inaugurated in 2008, this biennial competition aims to provide a platform for talented pianists. The competition will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music, and the finalists will be accompanied by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Joshua Weilerstein.
Deadline for entries: applications are now closed.
Age Limit: Under 30.
Prizes: First prize is £10,000; Second prize is £5000; Third prize is £2500.
Full Details: https://www.rncm.ac.uk/jmipc-info/
The Hastings International Piano Competition
This is one of the UK’s fastest growing premier piano competitions for international pianists. The next competition will take place from 24th February – 5th March 2022.
Deadline for entries: applications are now closed.
Age limit: 16 – 31.
Prizes: First prize: £15,000 plus concerto performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and other concert engagements. 2nd prize: £7,000, 3rd prize: £3,000, 4th prize: £1,500, 5th prize: £850, 6th prize: £600, semi-finalists who do not reach the final: £150 each, Orchestra prize: £500, Special Prize (awarded at the discretion of the jury): £1,000.
Full details: https://hastingsconcertocompetition.co.uk/