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Leeds Lieder/SIUK Song Prize

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

The winners of this year's Leeds Lieder/SIUK Young Artists Song Prize are Esme Bronwen-Smith and Avishka Edirisinghe, who both study at the Royal College of Music. Prizes were presented by James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook following their masterclass yesterday.

Esme Bronwen-Smith mezzo-soprano

British mezzo-soprano Esme Bronwen-Smith is in her last year of postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music, generously supported on the Leverhulme scholarship and studying under the tutelage of Rosa Mannion and Dinah Harris. She is also a 2019/20 Drake Calleja Trust Scholar and a 2020/21 Leeds Lieder Young Artist.

She made her professional singing debut as a soloist in the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony whilst at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama studying voice and composition.

Esme’s recent operatic engagements include the title role in Holst’s Sāvitri (HGO), Angelina (La Cenerentola, RCM Opera scenes), Unulfo (Rodelinda, RCM Opera Studio) and covering the role of Smeton (Anna Bolena, Longborough Opera Festival).

Esme has recently completed a 5 week course at the Gary Condès Acting studio and performed the role of ‘The Devil’ in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale this May, a collaboration project with Sir Thomas Allen, RCM and the Central School of Ballet. Theatre and film has always feature heavily in her career; she has worked closely with Danny Boyle on a variety of projects, including Frankenstein at the National Theatre (2010), Trance (2013), Trainspotting 2 (2017) and a collaboration with Underworld and Iggy Pop (Teatime Dub Encounters, 2018) in which The Guardian reviewed her voice as ‘Sublime’.

Esme was the winner of both the 2020 Royal College of Music Lieder competition and the 2021 Lies Askonas competition.

To find out more about Esme, visit her website,

Avishka Edirisinghe is a British-Sri Lankan pianist and a final year student on the joint Physics and Music Performance degree course at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, where he studies Piano with Nigel Clayton and Collaborative Piano with Simon Lepper. Avishka enjoys playing as a solo pianist, but has a special interest in the collaborative side of piano playing. At university, he regularly accompanies singers in performance classes, concerts and masterclasses, as well as accompanying choirs. His work with musicians at RCM has led him to win prizes such as the Gregynog Young Accompanist of the Year award in 2019, the Pianists Prize at the 2020 AESS Courtney Kenny awards, the pianists prize at the RCM English Song preliminaries, and he was selected to be a Leeds Lieder Young Artist for 2020 with mezzo-soprano Esme Bronwen-Smith.

Avishka also plays the violin and at university continues to play the violin in the Imperial College Symphony Orchestra where he leads the 2nd violin section. He also enjoys conducting and studies it as part of his degree. After completing his undergraduate degree, Avishka will go on to do a postgraduate degree course in Collaborative Piano with a second study in conducting at RCM for which he has been offered a scholarship, and subsequently go on to find work as a song accompanist and opera répétiteur/conductor. Avishka’s studies next year will be generously supported by Help Musicians, where he is a Henry Richardson Award holder.

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