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
Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-born Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire ranging from works by Monteverdi to contemporary composers. Critics have acclaimed him as an “amazing tenor” (Vancouver Sun) having “exceptional power throughout his range” (Boston Globe), with a “vivid response to each line of word and music” (Philadelphia Inquirer) and as a “phenomenal” and “matchless artist” (Globe & Mail).
Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors such as Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Grant Llewellyn, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundijan, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, Nathalie Stutzmann and Pinchas Zukerman. His diverse opera credits include Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail; Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Albert Herring and The Turn of the Screw; Lully’s Persée and Rameau’s Pygmalion and La Guirlande. Mr. Wiliford has been involved in a number of world premiere performances featuring works by Benjamin Britten, Derek Holman, James Rolfe, John Greer, Marjan Mozetich, Norbert Palej, Erik Ross and Zachary Wadsworth. His recorded projects appear on the ATMA Classique, Bridge Records, Centrediscs and NAXOS labels and include J.S. Bach’s Johannes-Passion under the direction of Alex Weimann; Divine Musick: The Late Works for Tenor and Harp by Benjamin Britten and Ash Roses, songs by Canadian composer Derek Holman.
In addition to his performing schedule, Mr. Wiliford is co-founder and co-artistic director of Canadian Art Song Project with pianist Steven Philcox.
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.
Roderick Williams encompasses a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music, in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital.
He works regularly with the major British Opera companies, and is particularly associated with the baritone roles of Mozart. Abroad he has worked for Netherlands Opera and Florida Grand Opera. He has sung world premieres of operas by, among others, David Sawer, Sally Beamish, Michael van der Aa, Robert Saxton and Alexander Knaifel.
He has worked with orchestras throughout Europe, including all the BBC orchestras in the UK, and his many festival appearances include the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Cheltenham and Aldeburgh.
Recent and future engagements include Count/Le nozze di Figaro for Scottish Opera, Ned Keene/Peter Grimes for ROH, Goryanchikov/From the House of the Dead for Opera North, Oronte in Medée, Pollux in Rameau’s Castor and Pollux and Toby Kramer in Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden for English National Opera, Van der Aa’s After Life at Melbourne State Theatre, as well as concerts with Le Concert Spirituel, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia, King’s College Cambridge, the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Rias Kammerchor, Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bach Collegium Japan, Pax Christi Chorale in Toronto, The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, London Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Delius’ Cynara with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2012 BBC Proms, the Britten War Requiem with the Maggio Musicale and Semyon Bychkov in Florence and the UK premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream with BBC Symphony Orchestra.
He is an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at venues and festivals including the Wigmore Hall, the Perth Concert Hall, Howard Assembly Room, the Musikverein, Vienna and on Radio 3.+
He has an extensive discography and his recordings of English song with Iain Burnside have received particular acclaim. His recording of Schumann’s Kernerlieder with Helmut Deutsch has recently been released on Wigmore Hall Live. He is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio
Sioned Williams is an international soloist and Principal Harpist of the BBCSO. She has appeared in recital with the Brodsky Quartet, William Bennett, Michael Chance, Michael Cox, Paul Edmund-Davies, Martyn Hill, Garfield Jackson, Steven Isserlis, Neil Mackie, Lisa Milne, Aurèle Nicolet, Mark Padmore and Andrew Watts. Sioned also performs with the BBC Singers, Cantamus, Tenebrae and other choirs. Many of Sioned’s commercial recordings on Chandos, Collins Classics, EMI Classics, Guild Records, Hyperion and Meridian have received international awards; she has partnered James Galway, the Holst Singers, Lisa Milne, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Frederica von Stade, the Choir of Kings College Cambridge, The Sixteen, Westminster Cathedral Choir, Winchester Quiristers, Oxford Voices and the Brodsky Quartet on disc. Sioned is renowned for her research on harp music from many eras; she is equally passionate about commissioning and premiering new works for harp solo, concerto and chamber music, resulting in creative presentations with words, poetry and film. Highly acclaimed as an educator, she regularly gives masterclasses and illustrated lectures, appears on selection and examination boards and edits and contributes critical editions, articles and reviews. Sioned is President of the UK Harp Association, and Emeritus Fellow of Harp Studies, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Kaoru Yamada enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and an orchestra player. She made her debut at Wigmore Hall in 2006 with her duo partner Sholto Kynoch (supported by the Kirckman Concert Society) and was invited back there in 2008 and 2010. Recent appearances include the Chichester Festivities and the Maldon Arts Festival, as well as two tours of Scotland as a recipient of a Tunnell Trust Award. Concerto appearances include Haydn’s C major Concerto with the Elgar Chamber Orchestra and the Berg Chamber Concerto with the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra at St. John’s, Smith Square. She has worked with numerous orchestras in the UK, including the Northern Sinfonia, the Hallé, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra.
Kaoru was born in Shizuoka, Japan, beginning her violin studies there at the age of three. Following her studies with Namiko Umezu and Koichiro Harada at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, she gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music as a post-graduate where she studied with Richard Deakin, completed with Dip RAM (the Academy’s highest award for a final recital) in 2004. During this time, she performed regularly in Tokyo and played in the Seiji Ozawa Opera Project and Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. She completed her studies with Detlef Hahn at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Kaoru currently lives in London and is a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Su Zhen is an international viola performer and currently a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing, where she is also supervisor of orchestral training and research. In addition, she is a visiting professor at Royal Academy of Music in London, and she is a renowned instructor at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, ABRSM China Consultant and a much sought-after consultant for the Asian Youth Orchestra and the Syndicate of Beijing Musicians’ Association. She is highly honoured to be a representative of the Tenth Chinese National Women’s Congress.
After obtaining the highest possible marks in all subjects from the middle school of the Central Conservatory of Music, in 1991, Ms. Su Zhen was admitted to the orchestral music department of CCOM, where she studied with Professor Wang Zhenshan. While studying at CCOM, the string quartet to which she belonged won first place at the first China National Chamber Music Competition held in Beijing. After graduation, due to her outstanding achievements, she was appointed as Assistant Principal Viola in the China National Symphony Orchestra when she was only 23 years old.
In 1996, Ms. Su Zhen won a full scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London, where she pursued postgraduate studies with the distinguished professor John White. She won the majority of the viola awards at the RAM, and was a prize-winner at the 1997 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. Ms. Su Zhen was also the only violist ever to be awarded the Principal’s Prize at the RAM (the highest prize for graduates issued by RAM) since the Royal Academy was founded more than 180 years ago.
From 2000 to 2004, Ms. Su Zhen held the post of Assistant Principal Viola of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Furthermore, as a solo violist and chamber musician, she was invited to give solo and ensemble concerts all over the world, including the International Music Festivals in Edinburgh, Geneva, the International Arts Festival in Tokyo, and the International Viola Arts Festival in the UK.
In 2004, Ms. Su Zhen was invited to return to CCOM in Beijing to become the youngest full professor in CCOM. In 2006, Ms. Su Zhen was awarded the Huo Yingdong Outstanding Youth Teacher by the Ministry of Education of China. During this time, she also recorded a number of classical music pieces on the viola for Chinese Central Television’s music channel. She has been invited to teach at many international master classes, including the Great Mountains International Music Festival in Korea, the Great Wall International Music Festival, and at the Austria Academy of Music.
Ms. Su Zhen was a Jury Member of Taiwan’s biggest music competition in 2009, a Jury Member at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in 2010, a Jury Member at Beijing International Music Competition (String Quartet) in September 2011，a Jury Member at the most important China National Music Prize “Golden Bell” in both 2011 and 2013. She was also highly honoured to play as the renowned musician at the concerts of both the Menuhin Competition in Beijing in April 2012 and the International Music Festival in France in April 2012.