Soaring soprano Shimona on top of the world in Llangollen

A gifted soprano from Singapore has been crowned the world’s best young opera singer at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Shimona Rose, 29, outshone competitors from all around the globe to win the prestigious Pendine International Voice of the Future title in a thrilling sing-off against talented Welsh soprano Manon Ogwen Parry.

A delighted Shimona was presented with the Pendine Trophy – a solid silver salver – and a £3,000 cheque by Mario Kreft MBE, proprietor of the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park, who sponsor the competition.

The prize came from the Pendine Arts and Community Trust which was founded by Mario and his wife, Gill, to support cultural and community initiatives across Wales.

Manon, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, received a runner’s up prize of £1,000.

Shimona was overwhelmed by her success especially as this was her first ever visit to Llangollen Eisteddfod.

She delivered dazzling performances to make it through initial rounds of the competition which attracted some of the best young singers from all around the globe.

An original 16 entrants in earlier heats were whittled down to six semi-finalists before Shimona and Manon were chosen to sing off in the final.

It is a flagship contest of the Eisteddfod and attracted a packed crowd into the main pavilion, cheering on the contestants in the finale night of competitions.

Shimona said: “It has been an absolute whirlwind.The other competitors were all immensely talented so it is an incredible honour to be awarded this title. More than that, it is a personal affirmation for me that this is absolutely what I am meant to do.”

The competition was judged by Martin Fitzgerald, head of music at the English National Opera, and operatic soprano Sarah Tynan, a voice professor at the Royal College of Music.

Presenting the Pendine International Voice for the Future prize, Mario Kreft said the performances of both finalists were “remarkable”.

He said: “The calibre of singing was outstanding. These are two such promising talents of the future. It is heartening to know that through our involvement in sponsoring this competition we are helping nurture the promising young stars of the future.

“This is exactly why Pendine Arts and Community Trust got involved in the Llangollen Eisteddfod, to champion the new generation of talents in music and the arts, to help them prosper and progress.

“The competition chimes perfectly with our ethos at Pendine Park because the arts in

general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything

we do to enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike and can play an incredibly important role in social care more widely.”

Born in Singapore, where her parents still live, Shimona started playing the piano aged five before eventually taking up singing and discovering her love of opera.

She also has experience with choral music and formed her own jazz band in 2014.

She has been living in London for the last six years where she is studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Having heard about the Llangollen International Eisteddfod from a friend and housemate, she said: “He told me how brilliant it is and he urged me to enter the Pendine International Voice of the Future contest, so I decided to give it a go.

“When I got here I realised how right he was. The atmosphere is so friendly and the level of talent from all over the world is amazing. Everyone supports each other and that takes a lot of the stress out of competing.

“I’ve been here four days and every minute it’s been wonderful. I am thinking of coming back next year just to enjoy the whole experience as a spectator.”

Shimona is no stranger to competitions. She has already scooped several other top prizes including the Robert Salzer Vocal Championship Award at the Boroondara Eisteddfod in Australia in 2017.

She graduated with a Master of Performance with Distinction at the Royal College of Music where she studied with Amanda Roocroft and became 2018 Opera Scholar of the Year.

She also was the 37th Annual Australian National Liederfest winner.

She has secured roles in operas in Britain, Australia and Singapore and she was asked to perform for the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 Judiciary Dinner at the President’s Palace in Singapore with the President and Chief Justice in attendance.

Runner up Manon said the second prize of £1,000 will also help her as she embarks on an opera study course at the Guildhall from September.

She said: “It will be a big help in furthering my musical ambitions.”

She congratulated Shimona on her win saying: “She is such a wonderful talent, with a warm and friendly personality. It’s been a pleasure to be in the final sing-off with her.”

Performing is in Manon’s blood having been taught to sing by her mother Angela Morris-Parry, an acclaimed music teacher, while her father is actor Erfyl Ogwen Parry.

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