Mary Nelson made her debut with English National Opera singing the role of ‘Woodnymph’ in Dvorák’s Rusalka and rejoined the company to sing ‘Amor’ in Orpheus and Eurydice and ‘Belinda’ in Dido and Aeneas. In addition, she has sung the roles of ‘Carolina’ in Cimarosa’s A Secret Marriage for Opera North, ‘Gilda’ in Rigoletto and ‘Micaela’ in Carmen for Castleward Opera and has appeared in the role of ‘Echo’ in a concert performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Barbican with the City of London Sinfonia conducted by Richard Hickox, all to critical acclaim. She also sang Poulenc’s Gloria and Faure’s La Fête Étrange at the Royal Opera House.
Mary Nelson was subsequently appointed as a company principal with English National Opera. Her roles included ‘Susanna’ in The Marriage of Figaro, ‘Pamina’ in The Magic Flute, ‘Dalinda’ in Ariodante (directed by David Alden), ‘Atalanta’ in Xerxes (directed by Nicholas Hytner), ‘Trash’ in The Fairy Queen (including performances in the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona), and ‘Lucia’ in the new David McVicar production of The Rape of Lucretia for ENO and the Aldeburgh Festival, which was also broadcast on BBC 2 and Radio 3. Other roles include ‘Ismene’ in Mitridate for the Classical Opera Comapany and Piacere in Il trionfo del Tempo e de Disinganno for The Early Opera Company.
An experienced oratorio and concert soloist, Mary has performed Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the City of London Sinfonia at the Barbican, Vivaldi’s La Senna Festeggiante with The King’s Consort in The Netherlands and Spain, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Handel’s Gloria with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Bach’s St. John Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In addition she has performed Mozart’s C Minor Mass, Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria with the English Chamber Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Handel’s Athalia with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Engagements have also included performances of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast with the Music of the Baroque in Chicago, Mozart’s Requiem with the Halle in The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Mozart’s Regina Coeli with The Academy of Ancient Music, Brahm’s Requiem with the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hansel and Gretel and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Nights Dream for the BBC Proms, Caldara and Vivaldi cantatas with La Serinissima in Spain, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Faure’s Requiem with the Northern Sinfonia, Handel’s Messiah with the Brno Philharmonic and Britten’s Les Illuminations with the Israel Camerata. Conductors she has worked with include Nicholas McGegan, Thierry Fischer, Christian Curnyn, Jane Glover, Kenneth Montgomery, Richard Hickox, Takuo Yuasa, Paul Daniel, Harry Christophers, Harry Bicket and John Nelson.
An experienced recitalist, Mary has given concerts at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, the Honiton, Chester, Gower, Cambridge festivals and Queen’s Festival, Belfast. She also recently undertook a recital tour of Argentina to great critical acclaim. Her recordings include Vivaldi Cantatas with The Band of Instruments, Mendelssohn’s Symphony 2 and Sacred Music by Georg Schumann.
Recent and forthcoming engagements include Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Ulster Youth Orchestra, ‘Pamina’ in The Magic Flute for English National Opera, ‘Nedda’ in I Pagliacci for Stanley Hall Opera, Elijah with the Cheltenham Bach Choir, Haydn’s Creation with the Prague Philharmonic and Jakub Hrusa, Orfeo and Eurydice and Judas Maccabeus at the Cadogen Hall, Messiah in Gloucester Cathedral ,Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Haydn’s Scena di Berenice with the Ulster Orchestra, Vivaldi’s Catone in Venice, Haydn’s Lo Speziale with the Israel Camerata, Pergolesi’s Stabet Mater with Monica Huggett and the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the RTE Symphony Orchestra and a CD recording of Georg Schumann Lieder.
In 2015, Mary became a Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music.
Daniel Norman was a choral scholar at New College Oxford, where he read Engineering. He went on to study in the US and Canada and at the Royal Academy of Music. In his first year out of college he made his debuts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with Trevor Pinnock, the Royal Festival Hall with David Atherton, the Wigmore Hall with Graham Johnson, Almeida Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival with David Parry and at the Barbican with Richard Hickox.
Concert performances have included Wozzeck with Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Evangelist in Bach St John Passion at the Festival Hall, Tippett A Child of Our Time with the CBSO and the Northern Sinfonia, Britten Les Illuminations and Mozart Requiem with Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic, Britten Nocturne with Edward Gardner, Britten Serenade in Tel Aviv, Britten St Nicolas at the Gulbenkian in Porto and for the BBC Concert Orchestra, Stravinsky Les Noces with Martha Argerich, Bach St Matthew Passion at the Concertgebouw and for the Sønderjyllands Symfonieorkester in Denmark, Beethoven 9th Symphony for Minnesota Orchestra, Holst Savitri with London Sinfonietta, Sam Kaplan in Weill’s Street Scene at the BBC Proms, St John Passion for The King’s Consort (Matthew Halls), Judas in Birtwistle’s The Last Supper for London Sinfonietta in Italy, Argento’s Jonah & the Whale in Boston, Messiah at the Royal Festival Hall, Delius Mass of Life with the BBC Philharmonic, Haydn Stabat Mater with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi, Stravinsky’s In Memoriam Dylan Thomas with the CBSO, Renard (Helsinki & Paris), Britten War Requiem for Southbank Sinfonia and for Philharmonia Taiwan and recitals at Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and for Oxford Lieder.
Opera credits include Peter Quint The Turn of the Screw and Dr Blind Die Fledermaus for Glyndebourne on Tour, his Covent Garden debut as Borsa Rigoletto, Flavio Norma, Goro Madama Butterfly and Tchekalinsky Queen of Spades with Opera North, Tanzmeister in concert performances of Ariadne auf Naxos with Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO, Mao in Nixon in China for Opera Boston and at the Teatro Filharmonico for Fondazione di Arena di Verona, Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos for L’Opéra National de Paris and Tanzmeister Ariadne, Elemer in Arabella and Basilio Le Nozze di Figaro at Garsington, and the Electrician in the Channel 4 film of Adès’s Powder Her Face (Almeida/Aldeburgh), as well as in its Vienna and Boston premieres, and at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. With the Early Opera Company he played the title role in Arne’s Alfred at the Covent Garden Festival. He sung Fenney/Hugo Mines of Sulphur at the Wexford Festival, Bob Boles Peter Grimes at the Endellion Festival, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Zuid, Hermes in Tippett’s King Priam with the Nationale Reisopera, Eurimaco in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and Valetto in L’Incoronazione di Poppea for the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich and New Israeli Opera and, to critical acclaim, performed the first official staging of all five Britten Canticles in Westminster Abbey with Streetwise Opera. Daniel also appeared in Nuno Corte Real’s The Bronze Boy, in Porto and Lisbon and as White Minister Le Grand Macabre and Squeak Billy Budd for English National Opera, Maxwell Davies Taverner with BBC Scottish Symphony, Messiah for the Minnesota Orchestra & Chorale and Carmina Burana for the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia. Further engagements include title role Hugh the Drover for New Sussex Opera, Beethoven 9th Symphony (Marriner), Moser Die Meistersinger for Glyndebourne Festival and Schwanengesang for the Oxford Lieder Festival.
Charles Owen is widely recognised as one of the leading British pianists of his generation. He has performed at such venues as the Barbican Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Lincoln Center and Weill/Carnegie Hall in New York, the Brahms Saal in Vienna’s Musikverein, the Paris Musée d’Orsay, and the Moscow Conservatoire. His chamber music partners include Julian Rachlin, Chloe Hanslip, Adrian Brendel, and Nicholas Daniel and the Takacs, Vertavo, Carducci and Elias Quartets. He also has a highly successful piano duo partnership with Katya Apekisheva. He studied in London at the Menuhin School, the Royal College of Music with Irina Zaritskaya and Imogen Cooper. He has won numerous awards, including the Silver Medal at the Scottish International Piano Competition and the Parkhouse Award. A regular guest at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Bath, Cheltenham, West Cork and Perth, Australia, he has performed with the Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National and London Philharmonic orchestras. His solo recordings include discs of Janácek, Poulenc and Fauré. Together with Natalie Clein, he has recorded the cello sonatas of Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Chopin for EMI. He is a Professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Raphaela Papadakis studied with Janice Chapman on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her roles included Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aurore in Massenet’s Le portrait du Manon, and Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
Her other operatic roles include Gretel Hansel and Gretel for Clonter Opera, Dido (cover)at l’Opéra de Dijon, Pamina with Hampstead Garden Opera, and Branghien in Frank Martin’sLe vin herbé with Ardente Opera, as well as Dido Dido and Aeneas, Lauretta GianniSchicchi, La Marchande Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and the title role in Holst’s Savitri for Cambridge University Opera. Before studying at the Guildhall, she was a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, where she gained a first class Honours Degree in English Literature, graduating in 2009.
Raphaela was a finalist in the London Handel Competition and won the York Early Music Festival Prize. She is also the winner of the Association of English Singers and Speakers Courtney Kenny Award 2011 and the Guildhall English Song Competition 2010, and was a finalist in the Jackdaws Awards 2010 at the Wigmore Hall. Last year, she was awarded a place on the inaugural Internationale Meistersinger Akademie, which took her to Neumarkt, Germany in the summer for six weeks of intensive study under renowned international teachers and artists, including Edith Wiens, Malcolm Martineau, Brian Zeger, Siegfried Jerusalem and Rudolf Piernay.
Raphaela is just as happy on the concert platform as she is on the stage. Recent highlights include performances of Schoenberg’s melodrama Pierrot Lunaire in Cambridge, Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the Thomas Tallis Society, Britten’s Les Illuminations in St James’s Piccadilly and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Bach’s B Minor Mass in St John’s Smiths Square, London. She also performed Mozart’s Requiem with Stephen Cleobury, the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, and the Aurora Orchestra in Kings Place, London, in a performance that was streamed live through the Guardian website. Plans for 2012/13 include Haydn’s The Creation with Stephen Cleobury, Pierrot Lunaire at Sutton House, London, and performances in the London Handel Festival and the York Early Music Festival.
Heralded by The Globe and Mail as “a superb piano partner … gorgeously accompanied.” Steven Philcox is regarded as one of Canada’s finest collaborators. He is a frequent partner of Canada’s vocal elite performing in concert halls across North America where he continues to garner the reputation as one of this country’s most expressive and colorful interpreters.
As a member of the music staff of the Canadian Opera Company he served as répétiteur and assistant conductor on more than 35 productions and was the pianist of choice for the continuo of Handel and Mozart. Increasingly recognized for his teaching, Philcox has given masterclasses throughout Canada and is regularly invited to mentor young artists at many of Canada’s prestigious summer programs. Recent highlights include Opera on the Avalon, Toronto Summer Music, Vancouver International Song Institute, and the Centre for Operatic Studies in Italy. In 2011, Philcox co-founded the Canadian Art Song Project with tenor Lawrence Wiliford.
A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Mr. Philcox pursued his love of vocal literature at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. Subsequently, he went on to receive his Master of Music Degree in Vocal Accompanying from the Manhattan School of Music. Philcox is currently Associate Professor and Head of Collaborative Piano Studies at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.
The Phoenix Piano Trio, formed in 2010, is fast establishing itself as one of today’s leading ensembles. Their concerts to date have drawn universal high praise; the Oxford Times described the playing in their debut concert as “a common approach to the music… a well-rounded concert from three consummate musicians.” In 2011, after an extremely successful first season, they undertook a major series performing all of Beethoven’s piano trios in London, Oxford and various other venues, as well as commissioning five new works to be performed alongside them.
In 2012, the Trio will give its debut recital at London’s Wigmore Hall. They also release their first CD; a live recording from the “Beyond Beethoven” series recorded in 2011, featuring the “Archduke” trio and the trio in E flat, Op. 70 no. 2.
Violinist Jonathan Stone is also a member of the Doric String Quartet, hailed as the eminent quartet of its generation. Cellist Marie Macleod is a renowned soloist, a member of the Lendvai String Trio, the Aronowitz Ensemble (BBC New Generation Artists) and Ensemble 360. Pianist Sholto Kynoch works with many outstanding string players and singers, recently launched his debut CD at Wigmore Hall and is the founder and artistic director of the Oxford Lieder Festival.
Tom Poster has been described as “a marvel, [who] can play anything in any style” (The Herald), “mercurially brilliant” (The Strad), and as having “a beautiful tone that you can sink into like a pile of cushions” (BBC Music).
Tom has performed more than 40 concertos ranging from Bach to Ligeti with Aurora Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, China National Symphony, Hallé, Royal Philharmonic and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, under conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nicholas Collon, James Loughran, En Shao, Robin Ticciati and Yan Pascal Tortelier. He features regularly on BBC Radio 3 as soloist and chamber musician, and has appeared several times at the BBC Proms. Tom’s chamber music collaborators include Alison Balsom, Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis, Guy Johnston and Elena Urioste, and as pianist of the Aronowitz Ensemble (former BBC New Generation Artists), he has appeared at the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall and the Aldeburgh, Bath and Cheltenham Festivals.
Tom has recorded for Champs Hill Records, Chandos, Decca Classics, Edition Classics, EMI, Sonimage and Warner Classics. He studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and at King’s College, Cambridge. He is also a successful composer, and a lifelong fan of dugongs.
Elisa Rapado, pianist from Zamora (Spain) discovered her passion for Lied and vocal accompaniment while studying chamber music in Moscow with Georgi Fedorenko. She has appeared in many voice recitals, the international masterclasses Cordes et Pics (France) and the last masterclasses given by Teresa Berganza in León. As a professor of piano and accompaniment at León’s conservatoire, Elisa helps many young singers at the beginning of their careers by evangelising Lied and art song through lessons, as well as her frequent concerts and activities aimed at children, young people and amateurs.
Christine Rice is one of the leading British mezzo sopanos of her generation. A regular performer at the major European opera houses including Covent Garden; the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich; Frankfurt Opera; the Teatro Real, Madrid and English National Opera she has built a reputation both as a singing actress and a Handelian of the highest order.
For the Royal Opera, Covent Garden her roles have included Judith Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Concepcion L’Heure Espagnol, Miranda Ades’ The Tempest the title role in The Rape of Lucretia, Sonyetka Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Ariadne in the world premiere of Birtwistle’s The Minotaur, Giulietta Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Maddalena Rigoletto and Carmen. For English National Opera her roles include Marguerite La damnation de Faust and Arsace Penelope. Other notable roles include Penelope Il Ritorno d’Ulisse for Frankfurt Opera; Dorabella Cosi fan tutte for Seattle Opera and the Bayerische Staatsoper; Diana La Calisto for Geneva Opera; Beatrice Beatrice et Benedict for the Opera Comique in Paris and the title roles of Ariodante and Rinaldo for the Bayerische Staatsoper.
Christine also has a very busy concert career, appearing throughout the UK, Europe, North America and at the BBC Promenade Concerts and Edinburgh International Festival working with conductors that include Antonio Pappano and Sir Charles Mackerras.
Sam Robson is a twenty-three year old musical prodigy and multi instrumentalist who is the son of classically trained violinist parents – his father plays in the London Symphony Orchestra. After finding trouble settling into mainstream education it became clear to him that music was the desired path. At this point he discovered the Brit School from where he would eventually graduate with distinction, immediately showing himself to be an exceptional student and winning their prestigious competition for song writing in his second year. At the Brits School he studied with the hugely successful act Rizzle Kicks, whom he supported regularly at live shows in their formative years. He also wrote, recorded, produced and arranged for many of the students at the school, building a studio in his parent’s house that often accommodated all-night full band recordings. As well as being an accomplished guitarist and drummer Sam has always been fascinated with the voice as an instrument in its own right, and a cappella has been a natural vehicle for him in that regard. He has created versions of s Mirrorball – which after its upload to YouTube was mentioned by the band’s singer Guy Garvey, during their tour of the United States – and a version of the theme tune for TV show Family Guy, which was broadcast on BBC TV prior to an episode. Always experimenting with arrangement and musicality, Sam has created nine-part harmony versions of some of his favourite hymns that he originally posted on his YouTube channel; these songs have now received combined views well in excess of two million hits from all over the world.
Matthew Rose is one of the most exciting singers of his generation. In the 2012/13 season he returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Talbot in a new prodction of Maria Stuarda, he makes his role debut as Sarastro Die Zauberflöte at Covent Garden and his concert appearances include the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Dutoit, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique with Gardiner.
In 2006 he made an acclaimed debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Bottom A Midsummer Night’s Dream – for which he received the John Christie Award – and he has gone on to sing the role at La Scala, at Covent Garden, the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Houston Grand Opera. Other highlights have included included Sparafucile Rigoletto at Covent Garden; Colline La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera; Mozart’s Figaro at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich; Claggart Billy Budd at the English National Opera and Leporello Don Giovanni and Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Future seasons will see him sing Leporello at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and Henry VIII Anna Bolena for the Opéra de Bordeaux; return to Covent Garden, to the Glyndebourne Festival and to the Metropolitan Opera and make his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
He has appeared in concert at the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms and at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York and recent engagements have included the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Colin Davis; the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Dudamel; the Swedish Radio Orchestra with Harding; the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis, the Dresden Staatskapelle with Mackerras and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano.
In recital his appearances include the Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Brighton, Edinburgh, Chester and Cheltenham International Festivals.
Patricia Rozario, born in Bombay, studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music, winning the Gold Medal and Maggie Teyte Prize. She also studied at the National Opera Studio in London, and won prizes at the Salzburg Mozarteum, S’Hertogenbosch International Singing Competition, Benson and Hedges Competition at Aldeburgh, and International Young Artist Competition at Tunbridge Wells. She developed a career in opera, concert work, recording and broadcasting. Her unique voice and artistry inspired over 15 established composers to write for her, notably Arvo Pärt and the late Sir John Tavener. She has sung under Pritchard, Solti, Ashkenazy, Jurowski, Belohlavek, Gardiner, Pinnock, Ivan Fischer, Hickox and Andrew Davis, has sung opera at Aix-en-Provence, Amsterdam, Lyon, Lille, Bremen, Antwerp, Wexford, ENO, Glyndebourne and Opera North, and performed concerts in Canada, USA, Russia, the Far East, Australia, Europe, and UK. She has appeared frequently at the BBC Proms. In 2010 together with pianist Mark Troop, she started a singing course, Giving Voice Society, to improve western music in India. She is Professor of singing at the Royal College of Music. She was awarded an OBE in 2001, Asian Women’s Award of Achievement in 2002, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, President’s Award in 2013, and FRCM in 2014.
Sergey Rybin was born in the city of tomsk in siberia, russia. he began playing the piano aged seven, studying at the specialised music school for gifted children, attached to the conservatory of Novosibirsk. subsequently, he studied at the moscow state university of culture and arts where, having gained a ph.D., he became professor of piano and taught for four years. since completing his studies at the royal academy of music in london under the tutelage of malcolm martineau, sergey has worked extensively for city of birmingham opera, english touring opera, garsington opera, opera holland park and grange park opera. as a recitalist he performed at the leeds lieder festival, hampstead and highgate festival, beaminster festival and in other prominent venues in the uk alongside Joan rodgers, Justina gringyte, katherine broderick, Nelly miricioiu, sergey leiferkus and others. in 2015 sergey was elected an associate of the royal academy of music, london and joined the coaching staff of the Jette parker young artists programme at the royal opera house. future engagements include Eugene Onegin for grange park opera and the royal opera house, covent garden, and Pelléas et Mélisande for english touring opera.
Mikhail Shilyaev was born in 1979 in Izhevsk, Russia. He started learning the piano at the age of six and won several regional piano competitions at a young age. In 1992 he entered the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatoire and in 1998 became a full-time student at the Moscow State Conservatoire, where he studied with Olga Zhukova, Elisso Virsaladze and Mikhail Lidsky. In October 2003 he gained a DAAD scholarship which enabled him to study at the Munich Hochschule with Franz Massinger.
Mikhail is the prize-winner of many competitions, and has been supported in his studies by many awards. In 2005 he won both second prize in the Ibiza International Piano Competition and first prize in the Intercollegiate Beethoven Competition organized by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. In July 2006 he won second prize in the Amy Brant Piano Competition in Birmingham. He has also been awarded the Myra Hess Award from the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, the 2006 Ricci Foundation Award and the 2006 Maisie Lewis Award.
He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and in 2005-7 Mikhail studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Mark Ray, Alexander Melnikov and Nelson Goerner. He gave his Wigmore Hall debut recital in March 2007.
Mikhail has participated in masterclasses given by András Schiff, Charles Rosen, Stephen Hough, Barry Douglas and Stefano Fiuzzi and in Summer 2007 he took part in the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme. As a soloist with orchestra, he has recently performed with the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, with the RNCM Concert Orchestra and the Orchestra of Trinity Laban and the Gulbenkian Symphony Orchestra.
In July 2008 Mikhail appeared as a soloist at the Bridgewater Hall in Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra under Pascal Rophé. In 2008-2010 Mikhail was an appointed Junior Fellow in Accompaniment at the Royal College of Music. In 2009 Mikhail received a Golubovich Scholarship at Trinity Laban where he was worked on his Master degree with Professor Deniz Gelenbe. In July 2010 Mikhail won the Bronze Medal at the prestigious Vianna da Motta International Piano Competition in Lisbon.
Robert Smith is Organ Scholar at Somerville College, Oxford, where he regularly accompanies and occasionally directs the college choir for their regular services and concerts. He began musical life aged 5 on the piano, and moving to the organ aged 13 at the Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Henry Fairs, where he remained for 5 years.
Now at Oxford, Robert receives lessons from William Whitehead and was recently awarded an ARCO diploma, also winning the Sowerbutts Prize and Durrant Prize. He has had the pleasure of participating in numerous choir concerts and tours, notably at Blackburn Cathedral, Lancaster Priory, Birmingham Cathedral, Ampleforth Abbey and three times at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Robert regularly performs recitals as well as participating in masterclasses led by David Goode, Guy Bovet and Stephen Farr. He has twice been a finalist in the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition.
Future plans will see Robert feature on a BBC broadcast and a choir tour to America. In August 2014 he will undertake an extensive recital tour of Germany with concerts in Berlin, Brandenburg and Weimar. Robert also pursues piano studies with Margaret Newman, achieving a DipABRSM aged 16, winning numerous prizes in music competitions, both for his solo playing and as part of a piano trio.
The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford is coming to be seen as one of the best mixed-voice choirs in the university. It has sung at many of the great cathedrals in the UK – Wells, Winchester, Worcester, Southwark and most recently at St Paul’s who were so impressed the choir was invited to sing there as many time as they chose! They have toured Germany, Italy and North-West England in the last few years and have received stupendous reviews for their concerts – their concert in one of the major Berlin cathedrals was said to have been the best that year. They have been invited to be the only collegiate choir to take part in the Writing for Voices project as part of the Britten in Oxford 2013 festival.
Nicky Spence enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as their youngest singer, taking up a scholarship to complete his BMus, MMus and MMP studies with distinction, and where he has just completed their award-winning Opera Course. In demand as a tenor from a young age, Nicky’s voice and personality attracted the young Scotsman a long-term recording contract with Universal Classics and increasing recognition on stage, radio and television as a presenter and performer alike, having contributed to tours and Platinum-selling discs the world over.
Very experienced in recital, oratorio and opera, Nicky has performed on platforms all over the world from the Wigmore Hall to the Royal Albert Hall. As a soloist in diverse repertoire ranging from Handel and Mozart to Britten and Jonathan Dove he has collaborated with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, the RPO, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the RSNO, and the Southbank Sinfonia, and with artists which include Bryn Terfel, Graham Johnson, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, and even Dame Shirley Bassey. A proud Britten-Pears Young Artist and Samling Scholar, his awards include the Kathleen Ferrier Young Singer’s Bursary Award, the Young Classical Performer of the Year nomination at the Classical Brit Awards, and a place in the final of the Gold Medal at the Guildhall School.
Keen to work at the very highest level, Nicky continues his studies with vocal professor John Evans and has just been awarded a place at the National Opera Studio where he is generously supported by Scottish Opera, the Musicians Benevolent Fund, and The Countess of Munster Trust. Future plans include a collaboration with Malcolm Martineau for a BBC Radio 3 Britten Recording and Song-Cycle series, Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress for BYO, Jacquino Fidelio for Opera Holland Park, and a CD of Alun Hoddinott Songs to be internationally released later in the year.
Stanislao Marco Spina was born in 1986. Under the supervision of Maestro Fulvio Panico, he graduated with Honours and Honourable Mention from the Conservatorio Tito Schipa in Lecce. He mastered his skills in Italy with Filippo Lattanzi, Danilo Grassi and Edoardo Giachino at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, in Germany with Marta Klimasara, professor at the Stuttgarter Musikschule and in Austria with Ulrike Stadler from the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst of Graz. He was awarded numerous scholarships from the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, the Ministry of Public Education of Italy, and the European Union. In 2009, he gave his solo debut with the Orchestra Tito Schipa of Lecce, performing the Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra by Milhaud conducted by Francesco Lanzillotta. He then began his concert career, performing works by Schwantner, Thomas, Reich, Ichiyanagi, Xenakis and Cowell. Later, he turned his attention to the Baroque and Classical music of Bach, Marais, Scarlatti and Mozart, and studied in depth with Emilia Fadini and Mariagrazia Lioy. He has won many awards in recognition of his work, including first prize in the LAMS City of Matera Music Competition, first prize in the Rome Premio Nazionale delle Arti 2009, third prize in the Cordoba International Marimba Competition 2011, the first Prize in the international music contest “Paolo Serrau” (Filadelfia) and the participation in the final phase of the “Southern California Marimba Competition 2014” (Los Angeles). He has worked with several orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Orchestra dell’Opera di Parma, Magna Grecia Orchestra, Tito Schipa Orchestra, Ensemble Ritratti 2010 – Monopoli, the Ensemble 900 of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, Wood Percussion Droops and Locomotive Percussion Orchestra, performing in Italy’s Auditorium Parco della Musica, Spain’s Euskalduna Palace and France’s Cellier Pontifical. He is professor of percussion at the Conservatorio Tito Schipa in Lecce.
Richard Stafford began his musical education as a chorister at Jesus College, Cambridge under the direction of Timothy Byram-Wigfield. Following music scholarships to Eton College and the Perse, he studied at Oriel College, Oxford and upon graduation worked at Wanganui Collegiate School where he studied the organ with Nicholas Grigsby. In 2011, he completed a Masters in Musicology at Durham University with specific study of the composer Gerald Finzi, and whilst there he was the Organ Scholar at University and St. John’s Colleges, studying with Francesca Massey. In September 2012, he took up a post as a teacher of music at Brighton College before becoming Head of Academic Music in 2013. He became Director of Music at Ardingly College in April 2016, where he oversees the direction of the Chapel Choir and Schola Cantorum.
Born in Burghausen/Bavaria, the soprano went to study in Salzburgwith Wilma Lipp, in Hanoverwith Charlotte Lehmann and in Baslewith Kurt Widmer. She made her opera debut at the Heidelberger Schlossfestspiele as Despina in Così fan tutte. After an engagement at the Opera Basle she became a member of the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper and Volksoper, where she soon became an audience favourite and performed in opera and operetta with equal success, for example as Mozart’s Pamina, Susanna, Despina, Zerlina, Servilia, asÄnnchen (Freischütz), Gretel (Hänsel and Gretel) and as Adele (The Bat), Valencienne (Merry Widow), Christel(Vogelhändler), The artist has recently been successful in repertoire as varied as Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore) and Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
The artist made guest appearances in Stuttgart, at the Bregenzer Festspiele, “Schubertiade” Feldkirch, Seefestspiele Mörbisch, repeatedly at the Berlin State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, where she sang Adele in the new production of The Bat (under Simone Young and Zubin Mehta).
Birgid Steinberger has also earned international reputation on the concert platform and in particular as a song interpreter and has performed in Vienna, Paris, London Wigmore Hall, New York, St Petersburg, Lisbon, Stuttgart, Cologne, Helsingborg, to name but a few. In 2008 she sang a Liedmatinee as Hommage to Dietrich Fischer Dieskau in the Oper Stuttgart.
Birgid Steinberger is a professor of song and oratorium at the Conservatory of Vienna City and was entitled “Kammersängerin” in 2009. Since 2010 she is also Professor at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
Her recordings include Mozart operas and songs by Schubert, Kraus and Wolf.