BBC Singer of the World in Cardiff 2003
BBC Canwr y Byd Caerdydd 2003

What is now the world's premier classical singing competition was founded in 1983 by BBC Wales, under the title Cardiff Singer of the World. It takes place every second June. The 2003 competition has a slight change in the wording of the title, and the main prize has just been won by the Finnish baritone Tommi Hakala. The song prize was won by Ireland's Ailish Tynan, and the audience prize by Chile's Angela Marambio.

It is a huge worldwide competition: this year 951 singers applied for an audition, and 483 got one. Of these, 25 make it to St David's Hall in Cardiff, and are heard over a number of nights on BBC television and Radio 3, and now over the Internet also. They are grouped into five lots of five, producing five round winners, and on the final night these have another opportunity to perform. The grand prize is based on a points total and need not be the highest scorer of the final night. The prize is £10 000 plus engagements with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera.

Past winners of the Cardiff competition have generally gone on to become stars. They are:

As well as arias from opera or other large concert works, most singers also perform some lieder or art songs, and so become eligible for the Song Prize. This began as the Lieder Prize in 1989, became the Song Prize in 1999, and this year has been elevated to a separate parallel competition, with the unwieldy name of BBC Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize. I think this is sponsored by an impresario called Ian Rosenblatt. The prize is £5 000, a concert at St John's Smith Square in London, and membership of Radio 3's New Generation Artists Scheme.

The first year, 1989, saw the great Bryn Terfel win the lieder prize, though he was pipped by Hvorostovsky for the main one. Subsequently lieder/song winners have been perhaps less famous: Neal Davies, Paul Whelan, Kirsi Tiihonen, Christopher Maltman, Dae-San No, Marius Brenciu (gaining both prizes), and tonight Ailish Tynan.

In 2003 an audience prize was launched, worth £2 500, with voting by the audiences in St David's Hall and at home receiving the broadcasts.

Members of the juries in this year's competitions included the singers Gundula Janowitz, Sherrill Milnes, Galina Vishnevskaya, and Christoph Prégardien.
/me having Radio 3 on in the background for the last week

Why are none of these singers noded? Do I have to do them all myself?

2005 competition: audience prize Ha-Young Lee soprano from South Korea; song prize Andrew Kennedy, tenor, England; main prize Nicole Cabell, US soprano.