Peter Hulsen Song Award | Southbank Sinfonia

Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award

Applications for the 2018 Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award are now closed, but the information will remain on this page as a reference for all who applied. Further details of the live final will appear here shortly.

Are you a graduate singer? Would you enjoy the opportunity to perform with an orchestra? Now is your chance, as Southbank Sinfonia welcomes applications for the prestigious Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award.

The winner – chosen in a live final with the orchestra in October 2017 – will not only win a prize of £1000 but will also become an Associate Artist of Southbank Sinfonia for 2018-19, resulting in at least one public performance with the orchestra.


Established in 2008, the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award is a biennial award for outstanding young singers embarking on the profession. While the Kathleen Ferrier Award is for recital with piano and Cardiff Singer of the World for operatic arias, the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award distinctly offers emerging artists a much-valued opportunity to explore the treasures of the orchestral songbook and perform with Southbank Sinfonia, nominated for the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award.

The award is named after the late Peter Hulsen, a remarkable music lover and longstanding friend and supporter of Southbank Sinfonia. A native of Breslau, Peter came to England as a boy on one of the last Kindertransport trains out of Germany. In the face of such stark origins in life, he found great consolation in classical music and its enduring spirit manifest in outstanding young artists who may champion it for decades to come. In his lifetime, it was his wish to establish an award offering young voices the opportunity to perform with orchestra, and it has been Southbank Sinfonia’s honour to make this happen every alternate year.

The Award is adjudicated by Southbank Sinfonia Music Director & Principal Conductor Simon Over alongside distinguished specialists who in previous years have included Sir Thomas Allen, Sally Matthews, Della Jones, Susan Gritton and Paul Nilon. The 2017 panel will be announced shortly.

Previous winners are soprano Soraya Mafi and bass-baritone Bozidar Smiljanic (2015), baritone Gavan Ring (2013), soprano Susanna Hurrell (2011) and baritone Gerard Collett (2009).

Commenting on the Award, soprano Susan Gritton says ‘Orchestral song demands both great artistry and great singing. Listening to these wonderful young singers specifically for orchestral song is a fantastic way to find our great artists of the future.’

Who can apply

In 2017, singers who have completed a postgraduate course at a British music college in the last ten years may apply.

Additionally, the Heads of Vocal Studies at four London music colleges – the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban – are invited by Southbank Sinfonia to nominate two outstanding postgraduate students each. If you are nominated in this way, please nonetheless complete the application form to ensure we get all the details we need from you. Please note, it is not otherwise possible to apply as a student, but do consider applying in a future year when you have completed your studies.

If shortlisted, all applicants must be available on Monday 4 September (Piano Round), Wednesday 25 October (rehearsals) and Thursday 26 October (Final) in order to be able to participate fully. All these take place at Southbank Sinfonia’s home, St John’s Waterloo in central London.

It is not essential that you are currently living in the UK but you must nonetheless be able to attend all the dates above, at your own expense.

Please note you must also have your own accompanist available to join you if selected for the Piano Round on 4 September.

Application process

Graduate singers who are interested in applying must submit the following items:

  • a completed application form (see below)
  • a recent colour, low resolution photo (headshot) of yourself
  • your up-to-date CV (strictly no more than two pages)

Your CV must include details of two referees, stating their name, role, how they know you (eg. teacher) and contact details. The first of these should be your most recent singing teacher. You should alert both that you are including them as referees, and Southbank Sinfonia may contact them at any time for their view on your singing ability.

The application form asks you to list 10 minutes’ worth of repertoire that you would sing if shortlisted for the Piano Round in September. This should ideally be orchestral song, but not opera. We recommend you choose multiple pieces that demonstrate different vocal qualities. If you prepare in excess of 10 minutes’ music, the panel may only choose to hear select passages. The repertoire you choose here need not be the same pieces you would sing if selected to proceed to the Final with orchestra, but it is worth bearing in mind now that the Final involves a chamber orchestra so anything you may hope to perform in the Final should be for chamber orchestra forces.

The application deadline was Friday 30 June 2017. We regret that incomplete or late applications cannot be considered.

Applications will then be reviewed, and the Administrator will contact you in mid-July to let you know if you are one of the eighteen singers shortlisted to participate in the Piano Round on 4 September.

You must bring your own accompanist to the Piano Round. You will have the opportunity to warm up briefly together in an adjacent room prior to your audition.

Following the Piano Round, the Administrator will contact you to let you know if you are one of the five singers chosen to perform in the Final in October. At this stage, the Administrator will arrange for you to talk with Simon Over to agree a 15 minute programme to sing in the Final, suitable for Southbank Sinfonia’s chamber orchestra forces. Final repertoire will be agreed in September and a schedule confirmed for rehearsals on 25 and 26 October.

At the Final on 26 October, each of the five finalists will sing, followed by time for adjudication, after which the winner of the 2017 Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award will be announced to the audience. First prize is £1000 and the title of Associate Artist of Southbank Sinfonia for 2018-19 resulting in at least one public performance with the orchestra, to be agreed in due course with Simon Over.

While we regret it is not possible to provide feedback for all applicants, those who have participated in the Piano Round and Final may request feedback from the panel, and we will aim to supply some insightful and constructive insights from them that we hope will be of use to you. If you would like this feedback, please email the Administrator at after the Piano Round or Final with the following subject heading: Feedback – Forename Surname. It may take some time before we can send you feedback, so thank you for your patience.

If you have any queries about applying for the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award, you are warmly welcome to email Jess Cresswell, Administrator, on and she will be happy to help you.

Download Application Form