Singers are forever being compared to each other. At the moment it seems to be one of the routes to starting a career. Win the Kathleen Ferrier for example and you’re sure to land an agent and wide spread exposure.
So what makes a winning singer? A beautiful tone? A connection with the audience? Great repertoire? A cracking dress? Who knows? Probably a combination of all of those but one never really does know for sure.
All panels are all different and are looking for different qualities. Some will over look technical flaws for intelligent, text connective singing. Where as others will be purely about the sound even though the are faced with a plank.
One of the most difficult things about competitions is the lack of feed back. Often there are so many applicants that they simply don’t have time to forward comments on a particular performance. Secondly, the atmosphere is so sterile and unnatural to performers as they are used to feeding off the reactions of an audience. Most of the time you don’t get to hear the other performers and so it is hard to make a judgement as to whether you were even close to being what they were looking for.
Having said all this, musicians will always be subject to such comparisons. One has to have a thick skin and to remain focused on how well your own performance went. Remember to give yourself credit for a performance that you were proud of, whatever the outcome.