Announcing a New Competition for Countertenors

By  | February 1, 2011 | 3 Comments | Filed under: The Editor's Desk

In the latest sign that the countertenor voice type has achieved widespread acceptance, I am happy to pass along that a Swiss organization has created a competition for… countertenors! Someone ponied up a significant number of euros to fund the first ever Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award 2011: Countertenor Competition. Full information and an application can be found here.

The competition’s organizers were generous enough to answer my biggest question, “Why countertenors, why now?”

They responded that their competition was organized to give space to special instruments, compositions, and performers. The vocal competition was dedicated to countertenors this year specifically because the voice type is less frequent and well known. They are all about raising awareness.

From their website

The GIANNI BERGAMO CLASSIC MUSIC AWARD was created with the aim of discovering and encouraging new young talent in the different sectors of classical music. Maestro Gianni Bergamo wished to start this prize hoping that it will become a reference point and a solid support for talented young musicians from all over the world. The competition is open cyclically to the following fields: composition, instrument/voice and chamber music.

Prize money: Euro 25,000
The jury will decide autonomously how to distribute the prize money, though a division of Euro 12,000/8,000/5,000 for 1st-3rd prize is suggested.

The work awarded with the first prize will be performed by the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano.


Musicians of any nationality born in or after 1976 are eligible, and the application is due no later than April 30th, 2011 (due, not postmarked). The first round is by DVD (yes, you need to go borrow a video camera and make friends with someone who owns a Mac), and subsequent rounds take place in Lugano (Switzerland) from the 7th-11th of September, 2011. There does not appear to be an application fee, although the airfare may knock you back a bit. The complete list of requirements can be found here.

The Judges

Read their bios here

Maestro Gianni Bergamo
Daniel Gloger
Gudrun Hartmann
Kai Wessel

Although I have to wonder if having two German countertenors on the panel will result in a favoring of the German sound, I hope that this meeting of countertenors from all over the world will give us a snapshot of our evolving national styles.

If you apply, let us know!  We’ll let you liveblog here.

Good luck.

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Ian Howell is a countertenor based in Boston, Massachusetts. He regularly performs as a concert and operatic soloist all across North America and writes from time to time. He was educated at Yale and Capital Universities, sang with Chanticleer from 2000-04, and is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts student at the New England Conservatory of Music. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

  • Ben Justin

    wow! will this be held again next year?

    • Ian Howell

      Sadly no. The competition’s focus changes every time.

      • Ben Justin

        Thanks for the info.