Voice of Black Opera (VOBO) Competition 2022

Presented by the Black British Classical Foundation in collaboration with Welsh National Opera, this competition showcases the Commonwealth’s finest Black and South Asian singers as they launch their international operatic careers. Up to twenty singers will be shortlisted and brought to the UK in November 2022. After a series of Preliminary Rounds, five singers will be chosen to perform a twenty-minute programme (with orchestra and piano) in the Final at Birmingham Town Hall on 5th December 2022. The Chair of the judging panel will be celebrated British Bass, Sir Willard White. After the competition, the winner of the Samuel Coleridge Taylor Award will perform a specifically commissioned song cycle (and a guaranteed three performances) with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

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Eligibility Criteria

  • Professional singers of Black or South Asian origin/heritage and holding a passport from one of the 54 Commonwealth member states.
  • A minimum age limit of 20 years on 5th December 2022.
  • Required to be available for competition commitments in Birmingham from 20th November to 6th December 2022, with the Final at Birmingham Town Hall on 5th December 2022.
N.B. Applicants must ensure they have the right to travel to/from and to remain in the UK for the purposes of competing in this competition.


Sir Willard White Trophy

  • £10,000 (subject to UK taxation).
  • Repertoire coaching with music staff at WNO.
  • A concert appearance with the WNO Orchestra.

Samuel Coleridge Taylor Award

  • £5,000 (subject to UK taxation).
  • A specifically commissioned new work for voice and ensemble (with a guaranteed three performances) with The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
  • This award will be presented to the singer who, in the Judges’ opinion, gives the best performance of a contemporary song or aria by a Black or South Asian Composer.


  • Designed by Birmingham City University School of Fashion & Textiles, the five finalists will be fitted with a bespoke fashion item to wear at the Final.
  • Finalists will also sing a duet with a leading operatic singer (TBA) as part of their 20-minute programme (preferred duet repertoire must be detailed at the point of application).


  • The fifteen non-finalists will be invited to perform in a public Masterclass with a leading operatic singer (TBA) and to attend personal development workshops.
  • Non-finalists are also invited to attend the Final at Birmingham Town Hall, and to prepare a group song/spiritual or chorus that will be sung before the announcement of the winners.
The deadline for singers wishing to enter the competition is midnight, Monday 25th April 2022. Applicants will be notified whether they have been shortlisted for the Preliminary Round by Monday 2nd May 2022. Any enquiries should be emailed to the Black British Classical Foundation at competitionmanager@bbcf.uk .

Please read the rules and regulations for full application requirements and see videos below showing how to take measurements and fill out the attached measurements chart.


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