AESS Speech Prize Results 2019

On Saturday April 27ththe finals of the Timothy West & Prunella Scales Prize for Actors took place at
the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. 

There were eleven finalists, and the judges, led by Timothy West all agreed that it has been a
competition of the highest standards. 

The first prize of £1000 was awarded to Thomas Josling, 21, from The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. 

The second prize of £600 was awarded to Thara Schon, 23, from Guildford School of Acting 

The third prize of £400 was awarded to Connor Jones, 23, from The Royal Academy of Music MT post graduate course. 

The judges were Jonathan Courage, Martin Parr and Timothy West.

The judges for the preliminary round were Jonathan Courage and Gay Soper.  

The AESS is very grateful to Timothy West & Prunella Scales, and John and Julia Dewhurst for
sponsoring the competition. 

Special thanks go to the competition administrator, Stephen Varcoe, for all his hard work to make
this the most successful actors prize so far. 

Thomas Josling, Timothy West, Thara Schon and Connor Jones.

Timothy West, Martin Parr, Thomas Josling, Thara Schon, Connor Jones and Jonathan CourageO

All the finalists and the judges

AESS AGM and Dinner 2019

The AESS AGM and Dinner took place at the Royal Over-Seas League on Sunday, April 14th The AGM was well attended. Members heard reports from the chairman, membership secretary and treasurer. The chairman’s speech, the accounts and Trustees’ Report will be uploaded to the AESS website in due course under ‘Past Events’. Forty-one people attended the dinner. Rosamund Shelley and Gavin Roberts presented a vivid, amusing and moving recital on the subject of war from various standpoints and periods. It was enthusiastically received by the audience. Hon. President, Michael Chance CBE, was the guest speaker and addressed his attention to the aspects of expression which might often be overlooked, namely exhalations which convey mood and are an emotional, non-verbal precursor to text.   

Gavin Roberts and Rosamund Shelley
Michael Chance CBE and Chairman, Sarah Leonard

AESS Courtney Kenny Award 2019

AESS Prize Winners Concert – London Song Festival 2018


2.00pm Saturday November 3rd 2018 Hinde Street Methodist Church Hinde Street
London W1U 2QJ

Ailsa McTernan – winner of the 2017 Catherine Lambert Prize

Lila Chrisp – winner of the 2018 Courtney Kenny Award

Emily Gray – 2nd prize winner of the Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition 2018

Nicole Johnson – winner of the Patricia Routledge accompanists prize 2018

Composers prize:            First prize – Dreamers – by Tim Ravalde
Second prize – Anthem for Doomed Youth – Robert Crehan                                                                   Sung by Florian Panziere Tenor

Tickets for AESS members special concessionary rate of £10 at the door.London Song Festival website:


Tim Ravalde, Robeet Crehan, Ailsa McTernan, Lila Chrisp, Nicole Johnson, Florian Panzieri, Emily Gray, Sarah Leonard, Nigel Foster

AESS Prize Winners Concert 2018 Review

A full house waited in anticipation for the second AESS Competitions Prize-Winners Concert which is now held as part of the London Song Festival. The AESS is grateful to artistic director,Nigel Foster, for hosting this showcase for the excellent performances which were enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience.

The theme of the hour-long concert was Conflict in all it Forms and included the first and second prize winning songs from the recent Song Composition Competition.

The concert included a wide-ranging repertoire of English song from the 18th to the 21st centuries. In spite of the seriousness of the theme, there was a great variety of emotional responses to the texts, from Gurney and Harvey’s In Flanders, via Britten and Auden’s Johnny, to Dring and Shakespeare’s Take o take those lips away.

Nicole Johnson proved to be a sympathetic, stylish and technically assured colleague for the four singers who all gave heartfelt and engaging performances with varied tonal expression of songs performed from memory. Particularly memorable in the opening group was Emily Gray’s performance of In Flanders, marrying text and meaning, and shaping melody to produce a moving feeling of home sickness with a wonderful sense of stillness.

Ailsa McTernanbrought a bright, fresh sound with excellent diction to the text of Everyone Sang with a plangent sincerity that brought alive the sense of hope in the poem.

Lila Chrisp’s real emotional commitment to text and a sense of urgency in her delivery, as well as a sense of fun, created well delineated vocal portraits of varied material.

In two world premier performances, Florian Panzieri gave smooth toned, considered and deeply felt performances of the new songs by Tim Ravalde and Robert Crehan. Crehan employed spare textures for Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth with a thumping ostinato pulse which gave way to almost plainsong like unaccompanied vocal melisma.

In the winning song of the composition competition, Ravalde used an aching rolling piano scheme with rhythmic martial punctuation in Sassoon’s Dreamers, the vocal line well suggesting the multi-faceted and fractured life of existence in the trenches.

This was a really excellent showcase for the aims of the AESS. Chairman, Sarah Leonard said it was very important to keep the tradition of creating new English Song alive and the occasional song composition competition was one way of achieving this. The previous winners in the first competition had been published in the latter volumes of A Century of English Song and it is to be hoped that possible further volumes will include the new additions to the genre. The AESS is grateful to The Thompson Educational Trust for its support of the Song Composition Competition.

Stephen Miles and Harold Lorenzelli

The AESS Catherine Lambert Junior Recital Prize 2018

The AESS Catherine Lambert Junior Recital Prize 2018

The final took place in the Carole Nash Hall at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester on Saturday November 17th. The hall is a stunning venue, with a glorious Bosendorfer piano and all our singers and pianists rose to the occasion.

We are very grateful to Chetham’s School for letting us use this wonderful space.

The judges were Jonathan Courage and Sarah Leonard. Due to the Northern Trains rail strike, our third judge, Eiddwen Harrhy was not able to be with us.

There were seven young singers aged between 14 – 17 in the finals. The prizes were awarded in the following order.
1st Prize £300 – Matilda Wale

2nd Prize £200 – Mia Serracino–Inglott

3rd Prize £100 – Nadia Potter (given by Coral Gould)

The Marian Lines Speech Prize £200 – Anna Haestrup

The judges particularly liked Matilda’s sense of communication in both song and poetry on her theme of “Everlasting Echoes; Greek Mythology in Song”

Jonathan Courage read a letter from Catherine Lambert wishing all the singers luck in the future and encouraging them really to understand and enjoy the words in prose and song.

The co-ordinator is Carolyn Richards. Our thanks to her.


From L to R – Sarah Leonard, Anna Haestrup, Matilda Wale, Nadia Potter, Mia Serracino-Inglott, Jonathan Courage


The Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition 2018



The AGM and Dinner took place at the
Royal Over-Seas League
on Sunday, April 15th.

After the AGM, entertainment was provided by Sarah Leonard, Nicola Harrison and Patricia Williams in a programme entitled From Dawn Till Dusk. The encore of The Owl & the Pussycat was written by Michael Pilkington for Patricia Routledge to sing in a production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in 1955!

Chairman, Sarah Leonard, introduced Honorary President, Dame Patricia as the guest speaker. Dame Patricia’s theme was of mentors who had influenced her life and guided her. She talked about how we all had such mentors in our lives and that we, no doubt, were mentoring the next generation.

Once again, the annual dinner was a chance to meet up with old friends and colleagues and to make new acquaintances.

Some happy diners…

Dame Patricia Routledge with Catherine Lambert.
Catherine will celebrate her 100th birthday on November 25th.
For information on Catherine and her long association with the AESS, visit: Catherine Lambert – a story in photographs (by permission of Catherine Lambert, Norbert Meyn and Janis Kelly) and The Founding of the AESS by Catherine Lambert.
Our thanks to Anthony Dawson who organised the evening


The Timothy West & Prunella Scales Speech Prize for Actors 2018 Final took place at
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
on Saturday April 14th

Ten young actors performed themed programmes of their own devising, lasting no more than seven minutes.

Several acting schools from around the country were represented.

Prior to the announcement of the prize winners, Timothy West talked about the need for actors to speak to the end of phrases whilst giving time for themselves and the audience to digest the meaning and intent of the text without rushing and risking losing words and meaning. He also felt that the quality of the vocal sound was more important than loudness and helped achieve clarity of expression.Mr West was joined by Eileen Battye and Jonathan Courage on the judging panel and they awarded the prizes in the following order:

1st Prize        Ed Piercy             £1,000                                                                                       Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

2nd Prize      Dominic Short      £500                                                                                        Guildford School of Acting

3rd Prize       Sophie Hammer   £250

Other entrants also represented Drama Studio London and Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

John & Julia Dewhurst sponsor the second and third prizes and the AESS is grateful to the generosity of all the sponsors of this worthwhile competition.

The AESS is grateful to the principal and staff of the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama for hosting the event.

Thanks also to the judges.

The co-ordinator is Stephen Varcoe, seen below with the judges and John & Julia Dewhurst

  The entrants, judges and Sarah Leonard
  From left: Eileen Battye, Sophie Hammer, Ed Pierce, Timothy West, Dominic Short,      Jonathan Courage
  The Prize Winners with Timothy West & Prunella Scales

Courtney Kenny Award Final Result 2018

The AESS Courtney Kenny Award

Final Result 2018

The final took place on Sunday, March 11th at Sevenoaks School.

The recital room of Sevenoaks School’s new Performing Arts Centre was a fine venue and there was an appreciative audience of supporters and friends. The AESS is grateful to the head teacher and staff for making the Recital Room available for the competition.

The judges were Richard Suart, Jean Hornbuckle and Clive Pollard. Our thanks to them.

It was extremely difficult to choose between all the performances, as the standard was uniformly high. Chairman, Sarah Leonard, remarked that the standard of the spoken element had never been higher.

The prizes were awarded in the following order:

1st Prize of £1,000                        Lila Chrisp
2nd Prize of £500                          Annabel Kennedy
3rd Prize of £500                           Ellen Mawhinney
Accompanists’ Prize of £500       George Needham

The  judges particularly enjoyed Lila Chrisp’s communication skills and the seamless nature of her programme in which she was wonderfully supported by George Needham.

Courtney Kenny was present to award the prizes and told everyone how much he had enjoyed the afternoon.

The AESS is grateful to Mr Kenny for his generosity in sponsoring this competition.

The AESS is also grateful to the preliminary round judges: Jean Hornbuckle and Judith Hildesley.

The Co-ordinator is Anthony Dawson

Courtney Kenny with the prize winners
From left: George Needham, Lila Chrisp, Annabel Kennedy, Ellen Mawhinney
Courtney Kenny with the judges and all the performers
Lila Chrisp
Lila graduated in 2017 with a First Class Honours degree in Music from Merton College, Oxford, and continues to study singing with Sally Burgess. While at Oxford, Lila took lead roles in several university opera productions, including Nancy, Albert Herring; Dido, Dido & Aeneas; Dorabella, Cosi fan Tutte; Annio, La Clemenza di Tito; Ottavia, L’incoronazione di Poppea; and Martha in the première of Marco Galvani’s chamber opera Rothschild’s Violin. In concert, Lila has performed as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with OU Chorus, sang the alto solo in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Oxford University Philharmonia at the Sheldonian Theatre, and performed Elgar’s Sea Pictures with Consortium Novum. Lila has given numerous solo recitals in Oxford and Rugby, and has performed in masterclasses with Jane Glover, Norbert Meyn, Joseph Middleton, Ian Partridge, and Graham Vick. She is also a keen choral singer, and has sung with Merton College Choir, Schola Cantorum of Oxford, The Oxford Bach Soloists, and Sansara Chamber Choir.
George Needham
George holds choral and academic scholarships at St Peter’s College, Oxford, where he is reading Music, and studies piano with Sam Armstrong in London. In September he will begin postgraduate study with Helen Krizos at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he holds an entrance scholarship. He is an active recitalist, chamber musician and accompanist, maintaining a busy schedule of performances in Oxford. His London concerto debut was in 2015 with Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2, and more recently he has performed Beethoven’s third concerto in Oxford. In December he sat the LRSM examination, and passed with distinction.