The Courtney Kenny Award 2021

The final will take place at Tonbridge School on Sunday, March 7th at 2.00pm

The preliminary round will take place at a venue in London on March TBA

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, February 20th

Entrants are encouraged to explore the vast wealth of material from five hundred years of song writing, prose and poetry, of writers and composers world-wide who employ the English language. All songs must use the original English. English translations of original foreign words are not acceptable. Ideas can be found in the AESS Century of English Song – Volumes 1-10, details of which can be found at

The Courtney Kenny Award 2021



The purpose of the AESS Courtney Kenny Award, in accordance with the general aims of the AESS, is “to encourage the communication of English words, in singing and in speech, with clarity, understanding and imagination”.


Competitors are asked to present and sing a themed recital of classical ‘Art Songs’ and the spoken word, with original English texts. (N.B.’Art Songs’ does NOT include opera, oratorio, operetta or musical theatre). The integrated programme may include spoken links and must contain poetry and/ or prose. The programme should not exceed 20 minutes in total. Candidates should provide their own accompanist.

The entire programme must be delivered from memory in both rounds.

The judges will give equal emphasis to the spoken and sung elements of the programme.


The competition is open to young singers aged 18 to 23. The application form must be signed by an AESS member.

Age Limit:

Singers, together with pianists eligible for the accompanists’ prize, should be in the above age-range on or before the date of the final. In 2021 this is March 7th.


First Prize – £1,000
Second Prize – £500
Third Prize – £500
Accompanists’ Prize – £500

The Competition:

The competition will be in two stages.

Stage One:

There will be a preliminary session on London, date TBA. The panel of judges will be drawn from members of the Association, who have not themselves submitted candidates. They will select a maximum of 6 competitors for the final.

Stage Two:

The final will be held at Tonbridge School in Kent from 2.00pm on the afternoon of Sunday March 7th 2021.

Venue – The Recital Room,


A nominal, non-refundable, entry fee of £20.00 is charged to cover administrative expenses. Entries must be made on the official forms provided and must be received no later than February 21st 2021.

Entry Form:

Courtney Kenny Award Application Form 2020 to be updated

Previous Prize Winners:

2010 – Angharad Lyddon

2011 – Raphaela Papadakis

2012 – Elizabeth Desbruslais

2013 – Sinéad O’Kelly

2014 – Meilir Jones

2015 – Charlotte Yeoman

2016 – Leilani Barratt

2017 – Renee Michaela G Fajardo

2018 – Lila Chrisp

2019 – Annabel Kennedy

2020 – Benjamin Reason

Previous winners of this competition are not eligible to enter a second time.

Feedback from the judges will be given to all entrants as soon as is practicable for both rounds.


Brian Parsons – Co-ordintor
5 Montrose Avenue, London NW6 6LE
mobile  07973 818303

The article by 2014 Senior Prizewinner, Alexei Winter will be of use to those who are unsure of how to devise a recital for the AESS competitions. You can read it here: Devising a recital

Leilani Barratt, the Courntey Kenny 2016 winner has also written about how she came to devise her programme. Read here 

Read Caroline Taylor’s Blog about her experience in entering the 2016 Courtney Kenny Award


Courtney Kenny writes about his thoughts on the competition