2019 Awardee: Liam Bonthrone

"I enjoy using my voice not only through performance, but through enriching the lives of others"


Scottish tenor Liam Bonthrone was born in Perth, where he attended the High School and received free musical tuition as a member of the Perth Jambouree Singers. He credits the choir’s director Edna Auld for his musical inspiration, and his first singing teacher Fiona Brownsmith for nurturing his voice and musical ear from the age of 11.

A community-based project, the choir performed almost every weekend at local events. Liam was encouraged to develop his stage presence, his capacity as compere, and his ability to accompany other singers on piano. As Liam’s voice changed from treble to young tenor, Edna and Fiona guided Liam’s development.  He went on to successfully audition for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s undergraduate voice programme.

Whilst at the Conservatoire, Liam studied with Scott Johnson and won the Hugh S. Roberton Prize for Scottish Singing, the Leonie Kayser Prize and the Elgar/Spedding Lieder Duo Prize. He continued on to postgraduate study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, under the tutelage of Robert Dean and Adrian Thompson, and won First Prize in the GSMD English Song Competition.

As an Alvarez Young Artist in the Garsington Opera 2019 Season, Liam performed in the choruses of Don Giovanni and as an ensemble soloist in Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.  In September 2019, he made his role debut as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola with British Youth Opera and won both the Dame Hilda Bracket Prize from Sadler’s Wells and the Basil A. Turner Opera Award for his performances.

Liam has performed in masterclasses led by Sir Willard White, Malcolm Martineau, Ann Murray, John Treleaven, John Mark Ainsley and Roger Vignoles. On the concert platform, solo performances have included Handel Messiah and Samson, Mendelssohn Elijah, Mozart Requiem and Mass in C minor, Haydn The Creation, Bach St John Passion, Finzi For St. Cecilia and the Scottish premiere of Joubert’s St. Mark Passion. He also appeared in various roles in the ensemble for Bernstein’s Candide, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop, in the Barbican Centre.

Liam is in high demand as a recitalist; in 2019, he performed alongside the Prince Consort at the Wigmore Hall, and in Graham Johnson’s Song Guild at Milton Court. He was a featured soloist in the April 2019 BBC Boulanger sisters’ ‘Total Immersion’ weekend, later broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and he frequently performs in collaboration with pianist Alasdair Hogarth for Classic FM.

Highlights of the 2019/2020 season include an appearance in a concert celebrating the work of composer Julian Philips, Handel’s Samson at Haddo House, and performing his International debut as Bruno in Bellini’s I Puritani with the Rotterdam Operkoor, in De Doelen.

How the Award Helped

Liam received a Dewar Arts Award to support his postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Since the Award

Update 2020:

In February 2020, Liam sang Russian songs as part of an exchange project at the Mariinsky Theatre, in St Petersburg. He also gained the opportunity to undertake training as a Samling Young Artist.

Alongside a classical singing career, Liam appears regularly in theatres across the UK as part of ‘The Two Highland Lads’, a Scottish variety performing duo, with baritone Kenneth Maciver (also a member of Jambouree), Leonard Brown and his All-Star Band. He has since returned to his hometown of Perth to assist Edna Auld in the training of young voices in the choir, and to perform in charity fundraising concerts.

From September 2020, Liam will study at the Royal Academy Opera School, as a recipient of a Bicentenary Scholarship.

"I enjoy using my voice not only through performance, but through enriching the lives of others"