Major new singing competition enjoys huge response in Eastbourne

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Competition sponsor Elizabeth Muir-Lewis wants everyone to know: Eastbourne has got something very special on its hands with the debut this spring of The Eastbourne International Singing Competition, a brand-new competition for classical singers aged 18-30.

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 closed at the end of March, drawing a response way beyond the expectations of everyone concerned. 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. If you want to attend, all the details are on

Elizabeth said the competition is already confirmed for next year and she is excited at just how it might develop in the years to come: “I feel really strongly that Eastbourne must realise what is going to happen in Eastbourne. Choral singers should be piling in to look and listen and learn. It's about awareness. You look at Cardiff Singer of the World and that started small. With our competition one day we might be able to do a final with an orchestra. That's in the future but already what is happening this year in the first year is beyond our wildest dreams.

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“When we first talked about the competition we thought it's going to be a nice little competition. We just had no idea how it was going to happen. We had 120 people writing in wanting to take part and from that Chris has chosen 69 who will be coming to Eastbourne including five from Russia and people from Switzerland and France but mostly from the Royal Academy, Guildhall and all the top colleges. The quality is going to be fantastic. I am on the adjudicating board and it's going to be jolly difficult to pick the winner. What we're looking for is somebody that has got the potential to be an international singer. There is no point just saying ‘Oh, she's got a nice little voice.’ It has to be somebody with personality and presentation skills and the ability to sing oratorio or opera or song and to sing in foreign languages and someone who could stand on the stage in an international opera house and make people listen. That's not easy to find but you can find it if you know what you're looking for. It is the quality of voice that comes first.”

Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)
Christopher Dixon (contributed pic)

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. 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: “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.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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