First-ever Eastbourne International Singing Competition launches

Strong interest is expected as The Eastbourne International Singing Competition makes its debut this spring – a brand-new competition for classical singers aged 18-30.
Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)
Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)

It will happen across five sessions – four first rounds plus the final – from May 31-June 2 in The Birley Centre, Eastbourne, the creation of opera singer and teacher Christopher Dixon. Applications will close at the end of March. The first prize will be £7,000 and a trophy, the second prize will be £3,500, the third prize will be £2,000 and there will be joint fourth prizes of £1,000. Applications via

Christopher is drawing on his own experience of competitions in creating the event: “It is happening for a variety of reasons but my history is that I am still a professional opera singer even though I don't do it full time now.

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"But I used to do competitions 25 years ago and be zipping around various parts of the UK. As a postgraduate student and as an undergraduate student it was a really good opportunity to get out there and show people what you can do and perhaps just have a change of routine.”

Now Christopher is bringing the idea to Eastbourne: “I want to whittle the entries down to 40 but obviously I hope to have a lot more applicants than that. There are hundreds of undergraduates and singing students studying at the ten or maybe 12 world-class classical music conservatoires that we have got, and I'm lucky enough to have good contacts. I've been in touch with most of them to tell them about the competition.

“The idea is that you have to be between 18 and 30 on the first day of the competition. You don't have to be in full-time education. You don't have to be a student. What I ask is that you fulfill the age criterion.”

Applicants will also have to have an accompanying letter of support from a member or former member of the classical music profession: “Really it is about quality control.”

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“There will be ten singers per session, 40 singers in all and then for the final there will be five singers who will sing a much longer programme, maybe double the length. And the reason I'm putting five through to the final, rather than seven or eight, is that I really want to be able to see what they can do. They will be singing for something like 20 minutes straight.

“I'm deliberately not on the adjudicating panel. I've employed four people to do that for me and the reason is that I want to be creating a really nice atmosphere for everyone including those people who don't get through. This really isn't the easiest career to be in so I'm wanting to make this as enjoyable as possible.”

The competition has been in the planning for a while: “One of the reasons I'm doing it is because I'm a part-time music teacher at Eastbourne College and I'm lucky enough to know just how good the facility is in The Birley Centre. When Covid came along we were not allowed back into the classes but we were allowed much more distanced work together and so I had some of my singing classes in the auditorium because it was a big enough for the rules. I got to know the auditorium and got to know just how good it is and I started thinking how good it would be for a competition. You can do opera arias in there but it is also really good for the more intimate pieces.

“And I think it will just be a really good place for the applicants to come down to this great facility that is just 150 metres from the beach. Just think how lovely that would be to come down from Glasgow or Manchester or London. The point is it is such a great auditorium and I just wish it was more used.”

Christopher is already starting booking the adjudicators for next year.

“We are very much hoping that this will be an annual thing.”

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