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.
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.
Michael Stimpson has had works performed and commissioned by some of the UK’s most distinguished artists including the English Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Allegri and Maggini String Quartets, Bristol Bach Choir, Roderick Williams, Paul Agnew, David Campbell, Philippe Graffin, and Sioned Williams. The capital’s foremost venues have hosted his works, and international recognition has prompted performances in Europe, the USA, and Australia. His works are varied in their subject matter, the stimulus often from contemporary events, favourite authors, and poets. String Quartet No.1 (Robben Island) reflected the breakdown of apartheid; The Stars Have Withdrawn Their Shining (harp), the life of John Ruskin; The Angry Garden (choir and orchestra) explored the issue of global warming; A Walk Into War (tenor and piano quintet) was based on the writing of Laurie Lee; and Tales from the 15th Floor (cello and piano) was a personal account of over four months in intensive care. In 2005, his major work to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War 2, Clouds of War (choir and orchestra) was presented at Cadogan Hall in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent. 2009 focused on a four-stage work, Age of Wonders, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Beginning as a piece for violin and piano, it evolved through string quartet and string orchestra to a work for full orchestra, commissioned by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra in Australia. Since then, Michael has completed Preludes In Our Time for piano, a revision of his piano trio, two songs based on the poetry of Giovanni Pascoli, and a new work for solo harp, The Drowning of Capel Celyn. These were composed whilst writing his first opera, Jesse Owens, a work in four acts for soli, chorus, and full orchestra. Recordings available include Journeymen (Allegri Quartet), and Dylan & The Drowning of Capel Celyn (Roderick Williams, Sioned Williams). Age of Wonders has been recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra for future release. Michael lives in the Chalke Valley near Salisbury.
Jonathan Stone is a member of the Doric String Quartet, with whom he regularly performs at major festivals and venues throughout the UK and abroad. In 2008 they won 1st prize in the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, 2nd prize in the Premio Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy, where they also received a special mention for their performance of Haydn, and the Ensemble Prize in the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Jonathan is also the violinist of the Phoenix Piano Trio, with Sholto Kynoch and cellist Marie Macleod. He is Co-Artistic Director of the Bedford Chamber Music Festival and is a committed teacher, frequently giving master classes around Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Mark Stone studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1998 he was awarded the Decca Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
On the opera stage, his recent engagements have included the title role in ‘Don Giovanni’ for the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg and New Zealand Opera; Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) in Cologne and Tampere, Mountjoy (Gloriana), Mr Astley (The Gambler), Valvert (Cyrano de Bergerac) and Sonora (La fanciulla del West) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the title role in ‘Eugene Onegin’ at Glyndebourne; Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus) and Belcore (L’Elisir d’amore) at the Welsh National Opera; Demetrius (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at Opera North; Lescaut (Manon Lescaut) in Leipzig; Elviro (Serse) for the Royal Swedish Opera; and Yeletsky (Pique Dame), Danilo (Die lustige Witwe) and Ottakar (Der Freischütz) for Opéra de Montpellier. In the U.S. he has sung Germont (La traviata), the title role in ‘Gianni Schicchi’ and Ford (Falstaff) for Philadelphia Opera and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), in Santa Fe.
His many roles at the English National Opera have included the title role in ‘Don Giovanni’, Il Conte (Le nozze di Figaro), Guglielmo, Marcello (La bohème), Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Silvio (I Pagliacci), Chou-en-Lai (Nixon in China) and Prince Yamadori in Anthony Minghella’s production of ‘Madama Butterfly’.
His future appearances include Count Alamaviva in Hamburg Opera and Robert Storch in Intermezzo for Garsington Opera.
In concert, his recent engagements have included the London Symphony Orchestra with Harding and Sir Colin Davis; the Hallé Orchestra with Elder; the Gabrieli Consort with McCreesh; the Bamberger Symphoniker with Norrington; the Academy of Ancient Music with Daniel and appearances with the City of London Sinfonia; the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the CBSO. Engagements this season include concerts with Maazel and the Philharmonia (Mahler 8), Vladimir Jurowski and the Dresden Staatskapelle (Auerbach Requiem), Xian Zhang in Milan (Britten ‘War Requiem’), Michael Schoenwandt in Amsterdam (Jeths ‘Hotel de Pekin’), Donald Runnicles in Glasgow (MacMillan ‘Passion), Paul Goodwin in London (Bach ‘St Matthew Passion’) and James Judd at the Vienna Konzerthaus (Elgar ‘The Dream of Gerontius’).
David Stout has rapidly established himself as one of the UK’s most versatile baritones. His repertoire ranges widely, encompassing early music with period instruments, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Britten, the bel canto repertoire and contemporary and twentieth-century works. He has earned a formidable reputation for his stage charisma, refined acting and presence on stage, as well as for being a great colleague whom other singers, conductors and directors are keen to work with again and again.
Recent highlights include a critically acclaimed Sancho Pança Don Quichotte(Grange Park); Paolo Simon Boccanegra and the title role of Falstaff with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra; Bach St John Passion with the Aurora Orchestra at King’s Place; Oromazes in Rameau’s Zaïs with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Aeneas Dido and Aeneas with the English Concert at the Bristol Old Vic.
Highlights this season include the title role of Le nozze di Figaro and Fritz Kothner Die Meistersinger (both English National Opera), Sandoval Le Duc d’Albewith Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 at the Royal Festival Hall.
Other operatic appearances include Axel Oxenstierna in Foroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia and The Dark Fiddler A Village Romeo and Juliet (Wexford Festival); Monterone Rigoletto, Schaunard La bohème, Zaretski Eugene Onegin and Pish Tush Mikado (English National Opera); Papageno Die Zauberflöte, Dr. Falke Die Fledermaus, Ping Turandot, Le Dancaïre Carmen, Harašta The Cunning Little Vixen and Buddha Wagner Dream (Welsh National Opera); Angelotti Tosca, Roucher Andrea Chenier, Gratiano The Merchant of Venice, Nikita Das Portraitand Mick Playing Away (Bregenzer Festspiele); Robin Oakapple Ruddigore (Opera North); Baron Douphol La traviata (Royal Opera House); Don Juan From the House of the Dead (Teatro Massimo di Palermo); Hercule Alceste (Chelsea Opera Group); and Alfio Cavalleria Rusticana (Endellion Festival).
Stout’s extensive concert repertoire includes Verdi Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall; Handel Messiah and Brahms Requiem with the Hallé Orchestra; Bach St John Passion with Polyphony at St John’s Smith Square, and Mozart Requiem with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, as well as Haydn Nelson Mass, Polyphemus Acis and Galatea, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Orff Carmina Burana, Tippett A Child of Our Time, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony, Walton Belshazzar’s Feast, Rossini Stabat Mater, Elgar The Dream of Gerontius, Mendelssohn Elijah and Britten War Requiem. Recent recordings include Sullivan The Beauty Stone, Haydn Creation, Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Wolf Eichendorff Lieder.
Stuart Stratford read music at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, studying conducting with David Parry and later in Russia, at the Saint Petersburg State Conservatoire, Symphonic and Operatic Conducting Faculty, for three years with the legendary conducting teacher, Ilya Aleksandrovich Musin. He was the Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in 1999 and 2000. Opera is at the core of his activities. In the UK Stuart has conducted for English National Opera, Opera North, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Birmingham Opera Company, Buxton Festival with repertoire including Giovanna d’Arco, The Barber of Seville, Khovanshchina, Orfeo ed Euridice, Don Giovanni, Satyagraha, Pagliacci, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Faust, The Turn of the Screw, Falstaff, La Boheme, Candide, Swanhunter (Dove),Tobias and the Angel (Dove), Ion (Param Vir), Kantan (Goehr), L’altra Euridice (Dove), Ariadne (Langer), The Embalmer (Batistelli). He has given the world staged premier of The Maiden in the Tower (Sibelius) and the UK staged premier of Kashchei the Immortal (Rimsky-Korsakov). He is a regular conductor at Opera Holland Park and has conducted performances of Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Jenůfa, Iolanta, Káťa Kabanová, La Forza del Destino, L’amico Fritz, Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, La Fanciulla del West and Il Trittico. Outside the UK Stuart has worked at the Finnish National Opera (Doctor Atomic), Hong Kong (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), at Theater St.Gallen, Switzerland (Un Ballo in Maschera), at the Birgitta Festival with the Estonian National Opera (Faust). He has conducted concerts with many of the UK orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata and Viva Sinfonia. Abroad Stuart works with the Porto Symphony Orchestra, Remix Ensemble, Orchestra of the Algarve, Perm Opera and Ballet Theater, Ural Symphony Orchestra in Yekaterinburg where he gave the Russian premiere of Momentum (Turnage) and Airport Scenes (Dove). With the Australian Chamber Orchestra in Sydney he has recorded a joint Channel 4 and Australian Broadcasting Corporation film opera, The Eternity Man, which was broadcast in both the UK and Australia. Stuart has been appointed the Music Director of Scottish Opera from the 1st June 2015.
Martin Sturfält is a Swedish pianist who enjoys a busy international career as a concerto soloist and recitalist, and is also a passionate chamber musician. While his repertoire includes a large number of standard works from the baroque, classical and romantic periods, Martin is also keen to promote newer music and lesser known works in his concert programmes. In December 2009 Sweden’s main classical music magazine Opus placed Martin as number five in their New Year’s list of the most significant Swedish musicians.
Born near Katrineholm in Sweden in 1979, Martin started to play the piano around the age of four. He studied at the Stockholm Royal College of Music and at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. His principal teachers were Esther Bodin-Karpe and Stefan Bojsten in Stockholm, and Paul Roberts and Ronan O’Hora in London.
Martin began giving regular concerts at the age of 11, and has since performed extensively throughout Scandinavia, UK and the rest of Europe, as well as in Asia and the USA. Highlights in recent years have included solo and chamber music recitals at all major venues in Stockholm and the rest of Sweden as well as at London’s Purcell Room, Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Martin is regularly invited as a soloist with orchestras and has appeared with among others the Hallé Orchestra and most Swedish orchestras such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Symphony, collaborating with conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Andrew Manze and Alexander Vedernikov. His performances have been broadcast throughout Europe and the USA and he has made frequent television appearances. His critically praised début CD of the Wilhelm Stenhammar piano works was released by Hyperion Records in the autumn of 2008.
Martin has had considerable success in piano competitions, winning first prize in both the 1999 Swedish and the 2002 UK Yamaha competitions as well as the 2002 Malmö Nordic ‘Blüthner’ Piano Competition, the 2004 John Ogdon Prize, and the 2005 Terence Judd Award.
Lydia Teuscher was born in Freiburg, Germany and studied at the Welsh College of Music and Drama and at the Hochschule für Musik in Mannheim. She collaborates regularly with conductors such as René Jacobs, Jonathan Cohen, Emmanuelle Haïm, Sir Roger Norrington, Helmuth Rilling and Markus Stenz and highlights in her 2016/17 season include Susanna Le nozze di Figaro (Staatstheater Karlsruhe and at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Japan); Serpetta in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera (Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Andrew Parrott); Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire(Ensemble of the Bayerische Staatsoper); Messiah (Orchestre National de Lille/Jan Willem de Vriend); Cantatas by Bach and Handel (Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen) and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (Wiener KammerOrchester/Bernard Labadie). Her operatic appearances include Pamina Die Zauberflöte at the Salzburg Mozartwoche, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Bolshoi and at the Bayerische Staatsoper and Deutsche Staatsoper; Susanna Le nozze di Figaro at the Glyndebourne Festival and the Dresden Semperoper; Zerlina Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi and Gretel Hänsel und Gretel for the Glyndebourne Festival, the Dresden Semperoper and Saito Kinen Festival.
William Towers read English at Cambridge University and was a postgraduate scholar at the Royal Academy of Music. He appeared extensively as a soloist in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage and his performances in the complete Bach series have been issued on CD.
His opera engagements have included roles at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro La Fenice Venice, Glyndebourne Festival, Oper Frankfurt, Göttingen Handel Festival, Gothenburg Opera, Linbury Theatre, La Monnaie Brussels, Aldeburgh Festival, Canadian Opera Company, National Theatre Prague, Teatro Real Madrid, Bregenz Festival, Opera Theatre Company, London Handel Festival and at Grange Park.
His oratorio and recital schedule has featured appearances in many major venues and festivals in the UK and abroad, including the BBC Proms, with distinguished conductors such as Sir Roger Norrington, Paul McCreesh, Richard Hickox, Laurence Cummings Emmanuelle Haïm, Barry Wordsworth, Stephen Layton and Jeffrey Skidmore. Orchestras he has worked with include the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Gabrieli Consort and Players, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, The Sixteen, Le Concert d’Astrée and Netherlands Bach Society. He has sungOrlando and Belshazzar in the US with Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque.
Kasparas Uinskas is an internationally acclaimed pianist, praised by critics for his virtuosity and romantic style. He has played at the world’s most important concert halls, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, London Wigmore Hall, Madrid Auditorio Nacional, and Washington’s J.F. Kennedy Center, where his performances have been received to great acclaim by both the public and critics. He was born in Lithuania, and began studying the piano at the age of six. He studied at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he graduated his Doctoral studies, the Frédéric Chopin Music University in Warsaw (with professor Bugaij) and The Juilliard School, New York (with the professor Kalichstein) as a recipient of the Vladimir Horowitz Scholarship. Highlights of the current season include his concerts with Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia (Belgium), Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Czech Republic), Philharmonie Südwestfalen (Germany), Liepaja Symphony Orchestra at Piano Stars Festival (Latvia), Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), as well as solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, the Baerum Kulturhus as part of the Piano Master Series (Norway), the BoZar concert hall in Brussels, the Brussels piano festival, the Festival Nordland Musikkfestuke in Bodø (Norway), and the Fantastic Pianist Series tour in Japan. He also regularly collaborates with other renowned musicians: he is appearing in a chamber recital tour of Norway and Lithuania with the International Tchaikovsky Competition laureate, violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky; he is undertaking a piano duo concert tour with pianist Evgeni Bozhanov; and is making a chamber concert tour with one of the world’s greatest cellists, Alexander Kniazev. He is a frequent guest at many international music festivals throughout Europe and the USA, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Music Festival of the Hamptons, the South Shore Music, and Holland Music Sessions. He has also appeared as a soloist at the Verbier Festival as recipient of the Reuter’s Grand Prix, awarded by the festival. He is a frequent guest on the Radio and TV programs, including BBC Radio 3, The New York Times classical music radio station, WQXR, and Lithuanian National Television and Radio. In 2010 he became an artistic director of the New Musical Generation summer festival and academy. He regular teaches students in masterclasses and, alongside his concert career, participates in outreach programs to promote classical music for the youth. Since 2006 he has run a classical music educational program in Lithuanian high schools, presenting live classical music to young people.
Pilar Vázquez, mezzo-soprano, was born in León (Spain) and studied in Madrid. She has performed as a soloist with conductors including Víctor Pablo Pérez, Josep Pons, Antoni Ros Marbá, Thomas Neuhold and Sir Neville Marriner. She performs regularly at all the major theatres in Spain (including Teatro Real in Madrid, Liceo in Barcelona and Les Arts in Valencia) as well as many theatres and festivals abroad (including Capitole in Toulouse and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino). A recognised Wagnerian mezzo-soprano, Pilar has performed the roles of Waltraute (Die Walküre) and Second Norna (Götterdämmerung) in a Spanish-Italian co-production, artistically directed by Zubin Mehta and staged by La Fura dels Baus. She made her debut as Waltraute (Götterdämmerung) with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia and as Flosshilde (Rheingold) in Oviedo.
Harriet Walter trained at LAMDA and has worked extensively in theatre, television, film and radio. Most recently she was Livia in Women Beware Women at the Olivier NT. She is an associate artist with the RSC, where she played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra alongside Patrick Stewart, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Lady Macbeth opposite Anthony Sher, The Duchess of Malfi, All’s Well That Ends Well (with Peggy Ashcroft) Twelfth Night and Three Sisters (winning an Olivier award for the last two). Harriet played Elizabeth Ist in Mary Stuart (Donmar, West End) for which she won the Evening Standard Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway transfer. Earlier theatre credits include Dinner, The Children’s Hour and Arcadia all at the NT and Three Birds Alighting on a Field, Cloud Nine, Hamlet and The Seagull all at the Royal Court.
Film credits include The Young Victoria (Queen Adelaide) Atonement, Bright Young Things, Sense and Sensibility and Louis Malle’s Milou et Mai.
She has published three books: Other People’s Shoes and Macbeth for the Faber series ‘Actors on Shakespeare’ & Facing It.
She was appointed a CBE in 2000 and DBE in the Honours List 2011
Michelle studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and at the National Opera Studio winning the prestigious Maggie Teyte Prize.
She made her critically acclaimed soprano debut as Fiorilla in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia for the Buxton Festival. She made her English National Opera debut singing the role of Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, following which she sang the title role in John Copley’s production of Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Mimi in Jonathan Miller’s production of La Boheme. Michelle covered the title role of Madam Butterfly in Anthony Minghella’s production also for E.N.O. She recently sang the role of Anna in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for Opera North and Liu in Puccini’s Turandot for Welsh National Opera for whom she will sing Mimi in Annabel Arden’s La Boheme this autumn.
Other roles include Pannochka in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Maiskaya Noch (Garsington Opera), Giulietta in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno (Buxton Festival), Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Garsington Opera), Ramiro in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera (Garsington Opera) and Ascanius in Berlioz’s Les Troyens (Edinburgh International Festival).
As a mezzo-soprano she was a company principal at Scottish Opera and also worked for Glyndebourne, Buxton Festival, Garsington Opera, Opera Holland Park, English Touring Opera, Raymond Gubbay, Lille and Opéra Comique Paris in roles such as Rosina, Cherubino, Dorabella, Annio and Hermia.
In concert she has performed with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, the Sorbonne Paris, the Britten Sinfonia, the Hallé Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Tibor Varga Sion Festival Switzerland, the Manchester Camerata, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera.
Richard Watkins has become one of the most sought-after horn players of his generation and is well-known as a concerto soloist and chamber music player. He was Principal Horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1985 until 1996, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founder member of London Winds and the Transatlantic Horn Quartet.
He has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues in the UK, Europe and the USA, and has worked with conductors such as Giulini, Sawallisch, Salonen, Slatkin, Sinopoli, Rozhdestvensky, Andrew Davis and Mark Elder.
Richard Watkins is closely associated with promoting contemporary music for the horn. He has given premieres of concertos by Maxwell Davies, Osborne, Lindberg, Muldowney, Lefanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Recent premieres include Bleak Moments by Mark Anthony Turnage for horn and string quartet, Colin Matthews’s Time stands still for horn violin and piano, a performance of Colin Matthews’ Horn Concerto at the 2006 BBC Proms, and a horn quintet by James MacMillan which was premiered at the 2007 Cheltenham International Festival.
Hugh Webb studied with Renata Scheffel-Stein, Sioned Williams and Susan Drake. He has worked extensively in the contemporary music field and Javier Alvarez, Robert Keely and Ian Dearden have all written solo works for him with funding from the Arts Council of England. Recent CD recordings include Bax’s Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet with the Academy of St Martin’s Chamber Ensemble (Chandos), a collection of French music for flute and harp, Villa Lobos’ Quartet (Clarinet Classics) and Bax’s Fantasy Sonata (Koch International). He gave the first performance of Cyril Scott’s Celtic Rhapsody as part of Sidonie Goossens’ 100th Birthday Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall.
Katja completed her Bachelor of Science with a Diploma of Modern Languages in German in 2001 and her Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts in Classical Voice at the West AustralianAcademy of Performing Arts in 2004.
While completing her first degree, she played principal roles in many theatrical performances around Perth, including Cosette in ‘Les Miserables’, Lily Craven in ‘The Secret Garden’, Eliza Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’, as well as Julia in ‘The Grand Duke’, Aline in ‘The Sorcerer’ and Princess Zara in ‘Utopia Ltd.’ with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Katja has also appeared as Proserpina in the Academy’s production of Monteverdi’s ‘L’Orfeo’, Anna Maurrant in Weill’s ‘Street Scene’ and Cunegonde in Bernstein’s ‘Candide’, as well as singing excerpts from Donizetti’s ‘Don Pasquale’ , Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ and Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ and ‘Falstaff’. Katja is one of the West Australian Opera Company’s Emerging Artists for 2006, and made her debut singing the role of the First Sprite in ‘The Magic Flute’. She has also sung in the chorus of Mills’ ‘ Batavia ’, Gounod’s ‘Faust’, Bellini’s ‘Norma’, Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’.
Earlier this year, Katja was thrilled to be able to sing a duet with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa during her Perth concerts. Katja also came second in the 2006 New York Study Award and was a finalist in the German Operatic Award and Barilla Italian Opera Award.
As a soloist, Katja has sung with choirs in Perth and in Germany , as well as performing recitals for the West Australian Lieder Society and The Society of WA Opera Lovers . Her repertoire includes Faure’s ‘Requiem’, Bach’s ‘Magnificat in D’, ‘Christmas Oratorio’ and ‘Mass in F’, Vivaldi’s ‘Dixit Dominus’ and ‘Gloria’, Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and ‘Acis and Galatea’, Mozart’s ‘Requiem’, ‘Coronation Mass’ and ‘Exsultate, Jubilate’, Hadyn’s ‘Nelson Mass’, Dvořák’s ‘Mass in D’ and Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solenelle’.
Andrew West accompanies many of Britain’s leading singers, and is Artistic Director of the Nuremberg Chamber Music Festival, now in its fifteenth year. He and Robert Murray have appeared together at major British festivals such as Aldeburgh and Oxford Lieder, as well as in France and Germany. He has particularly long-established partnerships with Mark Padmore (concerts at Wigmore Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center New York) and flautist Emily Beynon (Edinburgh Festival, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, BBC Proms). His keen interest in contemporary music has led to world premiere performances of song-cycles by Alexander Goehr (with Roderick Williams), Thomas Larcher and Harrison Birtwistle (both with Mark Padmore). Recordings include flute works by Les Six with Emily Beynon (Hyperion); Strauss Lieder with Emma Bell (Linn); and Parry songs with James Gilchrist, Susan Gritton and Roderick Williams (Somm). He has made solo recital tours to South Africa, South America and the United States. His 2016 diary includes a return visit to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, followed by further concerts in Melbourne and at Sydney Opera House; and a Schubert recital with Mark Padmore at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Andrew West studied with Christopher Elton and John Streets at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is now a professor.
David Wickham is one of Australia’s pre-eminent accompanists, and a lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He was a member of the music staff of the Australian Opera Studio from 2003 to 2006, where he was music director for productions of Julius Caesar, Don Quichotte, Carmen, Così fan Tutte, Rodelinda, Manon, Bastien and Bastienna and Trouble in Tahiti, as well as Elijah and three cabarets.
“David Wickham led from the front with a superb display of musicianship, playing the orchestral reduction with extraordinary flair and directing at the same time. He provided the bounce and rhythmic lift which permeated the entire production,” wrote Opera Opera of Così fan Tutte. Opera Opera also described him as “one of the finest exponents of keyboard skill when dealing with orchestral transcriptions”.
Before emigrating to Perth in 2003 he was resident in London. He has broadcast several recitals for ABC Classic FM, BBC Radio 3 and UK Classic FM. The Australian Opera Studio’s 2005 cabaret, of which David was music director, won an award for the best live broadcast in the ABC’s Sunday Live series.
As a repetiteur David worked for English National Opera, Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera, also spending nine seasons with Garsington Opera. He has also worked on several productions for West Australian Opera, including Richard Mills’ award-winning The Love of the Nightingale, described in the press as “the operatic event of the year.”
David conducted Mikado for West Australian Opera, and for WAAPA he has conducted Dialogues of the Carmelites, English Eccentrics, Candide and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“David Wickham did wonders from the podium”). He is much in demand as an accompanist, and has partnered Sara Macliver in several recitals. The West Australian, reviewing a performance of Grieg songs with Macliver, described David as “a musician whose fingers knew no fears, and who could shape even the subtlest nuances of the vocal line.” In recital with Aivale Cole at Government House in Perth, “Wickham’s pianism was exceptional throughout; his solo in Come Rain or Come Shine one of the highlights.” 2009 also saw a New Zealand tour with Aivale Cole, performing in all the major cities.