Rising operatic stars perform alongside Southbank Sinfonia

With a week to go until the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award Recital, emerging artists Soraya Mafi and Bozidar Smiljanic are preparing for their orchestral song debut with the Southbank Sinfonia at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Tuesday 30 June. This is the first time that the opportunity has been offered to both a female and male singer, and the award-winners have created a varied programme to be conducted by the orchestra’s founder and Musical Director Simon Over.

We held auditions for the Award in November 2014 at the 1901 Arts Club. The panel was chaired by Simon Over and included previous Kathleen Ferrier award winners, soprano Susan Gritton, mezzo Della Jones and tenor Paul Nilon. Soraya and Bozidar now join the impressive cohort of Hulsen recipients including Susanna Hurrell and Gavan Ring.


Bass-Baritone Bozidar is currently on a Bach Cantata around the USA and Europe. He is particularly looking forward to performing a new arrangement, by Nicholas O'Neill, of Carl Loewe's setting of Goethe's famous Erlkönig. He is also incorporating jazz and English song into his performance.

Soraya has had a busy year since graduating from the International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, including a debut at Grange Park Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet and English National Opera. The Lancashire born Soprano is proud to achieve a programme of subtle and sharp contrasts.

We caught up with both singers on how they were feeling about the recital. Here’s what they said:

Bozidar: 'We young singers rarely have the opportunity to perform song repertoire with orchestra. The vast sound world offered by an orchestra combined with the increase in personnel offers something fresh and mysterious. I have been fortunate enough to be able to cherry-pick some of my favourite pieces of music for the programme. I am realising a dream of mine to perform the late, great Richard Rodney Bennett's 'Songs before sleep' with string orchestra.'

Soraya: 'A chance to perform a programme of my own choosing with the Southbank Sinfonia – how FABULOUS! What would I sing? What would I wear?!?! However, with the help of our conductor Simon Over, I have now created what I feel will be a truly enjoyable programme for myself as a performer, the orchestra and the audience. I’m hoping that once I feel 100% confident with these new song cycles, I can relax somewhat and find the time to address my latter question…what to wear.’

Full details about Programmes and ticket purchase can be found on the Southbank Sinfonia Website. We hope to see you there!

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