Norcop Prize 2023

Thursday lunchtime in Walter Hall saw the winner of the 2023 Norcop Song Prize, Jamal Al-Titi give his prizewinner recital accompanied by Koldolsky Prize winner Indra Egan.  It was an interesting selection of material for baritone in English, French, Italian and Russian.  Starting off with Butterworth’s Loveliest of Trees and Vaughan Williams’ Silent Noon was bold.  The standard for these songs is particularly high and I don’t think they are Al-Titi’s sweet spot.  We would see laster in the recital a leaning towards a very operatic approach that didn’t work so well here.


Sets of songs by Robert Franz and Francesco Santoliquido worked much better for me.  Again, I’m sure there are those who would prefer less drama and more subtlety in the German Lieder but I thought the approach was valid enough and it worked really well for the Italian songs.  There was lots of Russian rep too.  This is not my strong spot but Al-Titi seemed most at home here as well, perhaps less obviously, in a setting of Maeterlinck’s Cantique by Nadia Boulanger.

My overall feeling is that this young man has a beautiful voice with lots of power and he has considerable dramatic flair.  I’d like to see more of him in opera which feels to me like a better fit than song.  Accompaniment throughout was sympathetic and in tune with the singer.

But you don’t have to take my word for any of this.  The whole recital is available on Youtube.


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