The Competition Final: Saturday 21st March 2020 2-7PM

The John Kerr Award was founded in 2006 as a biennial award competition.

2020 Entry Form Downloads

The Judges

We are delighted to welcome our judges: Neil Jenkins (Head Judge), Julie Kennard (John Kerr Award Specialist Judge), Peter Thresh (Senior Producer BBC Radio 3) and Christopher Grant (Accompanists Judge).

Rules, Requirements & Application Form for 2020

Participants must be aged between 21 and 32 at the date of the Final. They may be of any nationality, resident in the UK or elsewhere and of any voice range. The Entry form is to be submitted via email or post with your recording attached to the email or postal entries on a CD for the preliminary round.

Musical Requirements

Preliminary Round
Candidates are expected to supply a recording of 2 contrasting English songs, one from the 17th/18th centuries and one from the 19th/20th/21st centuries. The songs MUST based around the repertoire requirements below. The recording should be of as high a quality as possible. Candidates could be penalized for poor quality recordings.

A shortlist from the first round will be selected by the Committee and 6 (six) candidates will be invited to perform at the final in 2020 in front of an audience and the judges. Finalists will be notified in January 2020 that they have been selected and MUST respond within 14 days, confirming that they will perform in the final. Two further competitors will be nominated as ‘reserve finalists’ in the event that any of the chosen finalists are unable to confirm their place or are taken ill. If you confirm your place at the final, this will be regarded as a firm commitment, except in the case of illness. The awards and prizes will be announced after the last performance.

The finalists will be asked to perform a 25 minute contrasting programme based around the repertoire requirements below. One song from the preliminary recording may be presented in the final. A compulsory lute song must be included in your programme. You will be accompanied for this song by the John Kerr Award lutenist. Rehearsal time at Lauderdale House will be on the morning of the competition final and will be at a set time and duration.

Adjudication Criteria

The following criteria will form the basis of the adjudication (as appropriate) for both the first round and final :

  • Historical awareness in vocal matters
  • Performance style and manner
  • Audience engagement
  • Sympathy with and understanding of the words
  • Evidence of personal involvement and veracity
  • Ability to introduce the songs in a stylish manner


Vocalists are strongly encouraged to provide their own accompanists for the final. On the application form you MUST indicate whether you wish to use the house accompanist or your own accompanist. The name of your own accompanist MUST be included on the application form. Your own accompanist will automatically be entered into the accompanist prize if 35 years of age or younger.


You may perform more than one lute song, but the JKA lutenist must be used to accompany all of the lute songs.

Repertoire Requirements

For the 2020 competition songs from the 16th – 21st centuries may be included.
For the Final the programme must include at least one song from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th/21st centuries. A well balanced, themed programme and interesting or less well known repertoire will gain credit. The finalists will be expected to talk about their programme during the performance, but this should be kept to a maximum of 3 minutes. This time is not to be deducted from the programme length.

Below is some suggested repertoire :

Any song by John Dowland, Henry Purcell and/or Thomas Campion.
Any song by William and/or Henry Lawes.
Any song by Thomas Arne and/or Thomas Linley.
Any song originally written in English for the English market by a foreign composer, e.g. Haydn, Handel or Beethoven.
A Victorian song – by e.g. Henry Bishop, Charles Villiers Stanford, Maude Valerie White, Hubert Parry and/or Arthur Sullivan.

Location & Transport

Lauderdale House is situated half way up Highgate Hill. Free street parking is possible on Highgate Hill, however please note that it is often fully taken.

Archway tube station is at the bottom of Highgate Hill and is approximately a fifteen minutes walk.

Bus routes 143, 210 and 271 stop nearby.

Entry Fees

£25 (Full time student)

Closing date for entry
31st December 2019