ROMANIA WINS BIG AT 11TH INTERNATIONAL VOICE OPEN COMPETITON WORLD FINALS IN MALAYSIA!

Romania emerged the big winner at the 11th International Vocal Open Competition when 3 of their delegates took home first prizes in various vocal categories at the world final which was held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in Sentul East from 30th January to 1st February 2024. One of their first prize winners also took home the grand prize of RM 20,000 at the international competition which is organised by the Hong Kong International Musician Association (HK IMA). Founded in 2011, it was the very first time the competition was being held outside of Hong Kong, and Malaysia were fortunate to be given the opportunity to play host.

Malaysia was also fortunate to see 19-year-old Sabahan student Yico Wong Yee Khe from Kota Kinabalu emerging first in the Pop Song Open category and making our nation proud. The Romanians who were declared first prize winners include 20-year-old undergraduate music student Diana Rad Maria (Operatic Open), 24-year-old postgraduate student Bianka Dora Blatniczki (Operatic Aria & Art Song) and 36-year-old professional singer Ana-Maria Zota (World Folk Song). They received RM 3,000 for each first prize achievement. Zota also won the Grand Prize, as well as the fifth prize in both the Art Song & Pop Song categories, taking her grand total to RM 23,000.

Only those receiving 94 points and above from the judges were eligible to receive the first prize award. The first prize winners from all classes were also selected and given the Rare Echo Award along with a tailored original song.

The HK IMA which was founded in 2010, has been focused on international art communications and artistic level qualification and offers an international stage for all musicians to communicate and develop further through the holding of concerts, masterclasses, lectures and competitions.

“The three-day long International Vocal Open competition this year saw the participation of close to 500 international delegates from all age groups in a variety of vocal categories,” expressed HK IMA’s Executive Chairman Jye Lee.

“Even more importantly the competition is fairly judged by a panel of 23 highly recognised jury members from 9 countries led by internationally renowned soprano Nancy Yuen, who is currently the Head of Vocal Studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The contest this year has been quite intense with so many top quality delegates competing at the highest level making it rather difficult for the jury to find the winners,” added Lee enthusiastically.

The jury members were made up the who’s who in the global music industry. Among them were celebrity musician, singer, teacher and adjudicator Stewart Kempster from Wales, UK, renowned vocal educator and bass singer Hong Luo from China, tenor and US-based music professor Israel Lozano from Spain, Romanian vocal professor Anca-Daniela Mihut, lyricist and well–known music producer Collin Qi from Singapore and Australian mezzo-soprano Melody Lee, among many other notable professionals.

Malaysia was also well represented with coloratura soprano, music producer & music director Syafinaz Selamat, singer, music producer & arranger Lee Nai Kong, music producer & composer Helen Yap, songwriter & educator Chew Paul Wah, songwriter & music producer Abraham Tee and renowned soprano Cecilia Yap.

Apart from judging the two days of competition, members of the jury were also involved in conducting masterclasses, lectures and talks.

Masterclasses were conducted on the second day by Mihut, Hong, Lozano, Chew, Kempster, Nicoleta Ardelean and Ioan Ardelean both from Romania, and supported by most of the other jury members. Yuen’s lecture on “Singers Diction – The Art of Enunciation & Pronunciation” was very well received as was the panel talk entitled “Great Singers On Great Singing” presented by Yap, Melody Lee, mezzo-soprano Cynthia Yim from Hong Kong, soprano Dr Geng Yan from China and vocal art instructor Iulia Sucia from Romania.

The final day of the 3- day event saw an refreshing outdoor garden pop concert presented by some of the delegates. It was followed by the official awards presentation ceremony and a Special Opera Concert presented by some of the operatic judges. The event concluded with an exciting celebratory concert presented by the outstanding performers of the competition which ended with the announcement of the Grand Prize winner as selected by jury members during the concert performance.

The 11th International Vocal Open Competition saw a spectacular range of global delegates showcasing their incredible talents under the scrutiny of the reputable, credible and renowned panel of judges. It also gave them the opportunity to meet and communicate with fellow musicians from all over the world and share their different cultures and musical heritage. It was a great platform for the exchange of ideas and also the building of everlasting friendships. Regardless of the prizes being handed out, everyone came out a winner and will go home with great memories, a wealth of knowledge, and a higher appreciation of the artistic pursuit they are involved in.

The organiser HK IMA and International Musicians Alliance, and co-organisers Kinetic Music Entertainment did an incredible job of putting together the much heralded 11th International Vocal Open Competition in Malaysia. The well received event was supported by HOM Music, Training Qualifications UK, Rindlisbacher, Graceful Piano, UniEffectus, TME Institute of Music, GMTV, Music Hive and Apexstar Academy.

The Judges

Nancy Yuen (Hong Kong) – Chief Judge
Jye Lee (Hong Kong)
Stewart Kempster (Wales, UK)
Willian Lim (Singapore)
Loraine Nawa Jones (Italy)
Israel Lozano (Spain)
Nicoleta Ardelean (Romania)
Ioan Ardelean (Romania)
Cynthia Yim (Hong Kong)
Anca-Daniela Mihut (Romania)
Cecilia Yap (Malaysia)
Dr Geng Yan (China)
Syafinaz Selamat (Malaysia)
Peter Wong (Singapore)
Iulia Sucia (Romania)
Helen Yap (Malaysia)
Chew Paul Wah (Malaysia)
Abraham Tee (Malaysia)
Wang Bei (China)
Hong Luo (China)
Lee Nai Kong (Malaysia)
Melody Lee (Australia)
Collin Qi (Singapore)

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